Grays Harbor County recognizes and seeks to protect  the beneficial functions performed by many wetlands, which include, but are not limited to, providing food, breeding, nesting and/or rearing habitat for fish and wildlife; recharging and discharging ground water; contributing to stream flow during low flow periods; stabilizing stream banks and shorelines; storing storm and flood waters to reduce flooding and erosion; and improving water quality through biofiltration, adsorption, and retention and transformation of sediments, nutrients, and toxicants.

Grays Harbor County regulates land uses to avoid adverse effects on wetlands and to maintain the functions and values of wetlands throughout the county. 

18.06 Article III - Development Standards for Wetland Areas  

Are there wetlands on my property?

One tool available to identify wetland areas on individual properties is the National Wetlands Inventory Mapper, an online mapping service provided by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.  The mapper is an indication of the presence of wetlands; however, the absence of mapped wetlands does not ensure that wetland areas do not exist on or near your property.  A wetland professional can help you determine whether your property has wetlands or wetland conservation buffers that are regulated through the Critical Areas Ordinance.

Setbacks to wetlands are determined by the Category and habitat score of the wetland itself. Grays Harbor County Code (GHCC) requires that a qualified professional wetland scientist with at least two years of full-time work experience as a wetland professional (GHCC 18.06.370) score the wetland.  The Washington State Department of Ecology provides further guidance regarding professional wetland scientist here.  Based on the professional’s determination, Planning Staff can identify the standard buffer width per GHCC 18.06.380Buffers can be as much as 300 feet or as little as 40 feet.

A wetland reconnaissance by a qualified consultant is necessary to verify site conditions and determine Code regulations regarding development of the subject property. A delineation (marking the boundaries) of the entire wetland may not be necessary but is required of the portion of the critical area that is within 300 feet of the project site.

Grays Harbor County does not maintain a list of qualified consultants.  Below are links to other county maintained lists. During your search, please be mindful that GHC outlines specific criteria to qualify as a professional wetland scientist (GHCC 18.06.370 (B)).  Some consultants listed may not meet these criteria.  The wetland report must be prepared in accordance with the provisions of GHCC 18.06.180 and address the provisions of GHCC 18.06.370.

The permitting process begins with a Site Plan Review application and site plan.  The wetland report may be submitted concurrently otherwise the application will be placed on hold pending receipt and review of a Special Study (wetland report/Critical Area Report).  Upon receipt of a complete submittal, the applicant will receive a letter with instructions and a checklist outlining the next steps in the permitting process along with the necessary applications.  This letter and checklist is customized according to the proposed project and transitions the applicant to Step 2 of the permitting process. 

Applications may be returned to ATTN: Permit Coordinator, 100 W. Broadway Avenue, #31, Montesano WA 98563 by mail, in person, or appointment.  Sorry, electronic submittals cannot be accepted at this time.  Please contact a Permit Coordinator if you have any additional questions with the permitting process or would like to schedule a submittal appointment at 360-249-4222.