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Island County > Planning > Critical Areas
What are Critical Areas?

Critical Areas in Island County are environmentally sensitive natural resources that have been designated for protection and management in accordance with the requirements of our State's Growth Management Act (GMA). Protection and management of these areas is important to the preservation of ecological functions of our natural environment, as well as the protection of the public health, safety and welfare of our community.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE to our email distribution list and stay informed on any proposed changes to the Critical Areas Ordinance.

Notice: As of April 13, 2020, Planning and Community Development (PCD) will no longer be providing Preliminary Critical Areas Determinations (PCAD’s); therefore, applications for PCADS will not be accepted by PCD. Please follow the links below for more information.

To learn more about each of these Critical Areas, click on the images below:

Fish & Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas (FWHCA)
Geologically Hazardous Areas





Frequently Flooded Areas
Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas

Critical Areas and

My Development Proposal


If you are submitting a development proposal (building permit or land use permit) , you need fill out and submit a Field Indicators Worksheet even if there are no known critical areas on your property .The Wetland I.D. Guide contains instructions for completing the Field Indicators Worksheet.


Follow these instructions to determine if Island County has a record of a wetland or stream on or near your property:

  • Click Here to access IC Geo Map
  • One you pull up the map, you can type your parcel number or address into the search bar.
  • Then click the layers button at the bottom left of your screen 
  • Check the box next to critical areas, and click the plus sign to expand the options below
  • Turn on the appropriate layers by clicking the boxes next to wetlands, strems regulatory, and streams cartographic
  • If your property is affected by a wetland, stream, wetland buffer, or stream buffer then complete the appropriate instructions listed in step 4.



If you are submitting a development proposal, you need to address all critical areas found on your parcel. View Island County's Critical Area Maps here to determine if other known critical areas are present on your property which include*:


  • Geologically Hazardous Areas
  • Frequently Flooded Areas
  • Critical Aquifer Recharge Area

*Marine Fish & Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas (MFWHCA) are not publicly available.  Planning Staff will determine whether your proposal is within a MFWHCA.

  • Applicants for single family structures (residences), whose property is affected by wetlands or wetland buffers, must also complete the Land Use Intensity Worksheetand the Wetland Buffer Worksheetfound in the back of the Wetland I.D. Guide


  • Applicants for subdivisions, non-residential or commercial uses, whose property is affected by wetlands or wetland buffers, must hire a wetlands professional and submit a Wetland Report that contains the elements of the Land Use Intensity and Wetland Buffer Worksheets found in the back of the  Wetland I.D. Guide



*Island County's Critical Area maps are helpful tools, however on-site conditions may be different and Island County's regulations are based on site conditions, not mapped features.

For more information about the Permit Process and updates to the Critical Areas Ordinance, check out the following links:

Who do I contact for help?   click on name to email

Wetlands and​

Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation 

Duty Planner              


Geologically Hazardous Areas and Steep Slopes

Will Hallberg or Alexandra Plumb


Frequently Flooded Areas (Flood Zones)





Public Benefit Rating System (PBRS) & Rural Stewardship Plans

Meredith Penny


(360) 678-7807