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(a) The city of Selah contains areas that can be identified and characterized as critical or environmentally sensitive. Such areas within the city include aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife habitat areas, wetlands and streams, flood hazard areas, and geologic hazard areas.

(b) The city finds that these critical areas perform a variety of valuable and beneficial biological and physical functions that benefit the city and its residents. Alteration of certain critical areas may also pose a threat to public safety or to public and private property or the environment. The city therefore finds that identification, regulation and protection of critical areas are necessary to protect the public health, safety and general welfare. The city further finds that the functions of critical areas and the purpose of these regulations include the following:

(1) Wetlands. Wetlands perform a variety of functions that include maintaining water quality; storing and conveying storm water and floodwater; recharging groundwater; providing important fish and wildlife habitat; and serving as areas for recreation, education and scientific study, and aesthetic appreciation.

Wetland buffers serve to moderate runoff volumes and flow rates; reduce sediment, chemical nutrient and toxic pollutants; provide shading to maintain desirable water temperatures; provide habitat for wildlife; and protect wetland resources from harmful intrusion.

The primary goals of wetland protection are to avoid adverse wetland impacts; to achieve no net loss of wetland function and value – acreage may also be considered in achieving the overall goal; to provide levels of protection that reflect the sensitivity of individual wetlands and the intensity of proposed land uses; and to restore and/or enhance existing wetlands, where possible.

(2) Streams. Streams and their associated riparian corridors provide important fish and wildlife habitat; help to maintain water quality; store and convey storm water and floodwater; recharge groundwater; and serve as areas for recreation, education and scientific study, and aesthetic appreciation. Stream buffers serve to moderate runoff volumes and flow rates; reduce sediment, chemical nutrient and toxic pollutants; provide shading to maintain desirable water temperatures; provide habitat for wildlife; and protect wetland resources from harmful intrusion.

The primary goals of stream protection are to avoid adverse impacts to streams and associated riparian corridors; to achieve no net loss of functions and values of the larger ecosystem in which the stream is located; to protect fish and wildlife resources; to protect water quality through appropriate management techniques; and, where possible, to provide for stream enhancement and rehabilitation.

(3) Fish and Wildlife Habitat. Fish and wildlife habitat areas provide opportunities for food, cover, nesting, breeding and movement for fish and wildlife, maintain and promote diversity of species and habitat; coordinate habitat protection with elements of the open space system; help to maintain air and water quality; help control erosion; serve as areas for recreation, education, scientific study, and aesthetic appreciation; and provide neighborhood separation and visual diversity within urban areas.

The primary goals of fish and wildlife habitat protection are to avoid adverse impacts to critical habitats for fish and wildlife; to achieve no net loss of functions and values of the larger ecosystem in which the fish and wildlife habitat is located; to implement the goals of the Endangered Species Act; to promote connectivity between habitat areas to allow for wildlife movement; to provide multi-purpose open space corridors; and, where possible, to provide for fish and wildlife enhancement and rehabilitation that reflects the sensitivity of the species.

(4) Aquifer Recharge Areas. Aquifer recharge areas provide a source of potable water and contribute to stream discharge/flow. Such areas contribute to the recharge of aquifers, springs and/or wells and are susceptible to contamination of water supplies through infiltration of pollutants through the soil.

The primary goals of aquifer recharge protections are to protect groundwater quality by maintaining the quality of recharge, avoiding or limiting land use activities that pose potential risk of aquifer contamination; and to minimize or avoid adverse impacts to aquifer recharge areas through the application of performance standards, and to comply with the requirements of the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Washington Administrative Code that require Group A public water systems to develop and implement a wellhead protection program.

(5) Flood Hazard Areas. Floodplains help to store and convey storm water and floodwater; recharge groundwater; provide important areas for riparian habitat; and serve as areas for recreation, education, and scientific study. Development within floodplain areas can be hazardous to those inhabiting such development, and those living upstream and downstream. Floods also cause substantial damage to public and private property which can result in significant costs to the public and individuals.

The primary goals of flood hazard protections are to limit or condition development within the one hundred-year floodplain to avoid substantial risk of damage to public and private property and that result in significant costs to the public and individuals; to avoid significant increases in peak storm water flows or loss of flood storage capacity.

(6) Geologic Hazard Areas. Geologic hazard areas include lands or areas characterized by geologic, hydrologic and topographic conditions that render them susceptible to varying degrees of risk of landslides, erosion, seismic or volcanic activity.

The primary goals of regulating geologic hazards are to avoid and minimize potential impacts to life and property by regulating and/or limiting land uses where necessary, and to conduct appropriate levels of analysis and ensure sound engineering and construction practices to address identified hazards.

(7) This chapter of the Selah Municipal Code and other sections incorporated by reference contain standards, procedures, criteria and requirements intended to identify, analyze, and mitigate potential impacts to the city's critical areas, and to enhance and restore degraded resources where possible. The general intent of these protections is to avoid impacts to critical areas. In appropriate circumstances, impacts to specified critical areas resulting from regulated activities may be minimized, rectified, reduced and/or compensated for, consistent with the requirements of this chapter. (Ord. 2032 § 1 (Exh. A), 2017; Ord. 2019 § 2, 2017; Ord. 1943 § 2, 2014.)