H-2144.1  _______________________________________________





State of Washington      55th Legislature     1997 Regular Session


By Representatives Thompson, Reams, Bush, Mielke, Sherstad, Pennington, Sheldon, Grant, Kastama, McMorris and Mastin


Read first time 02/25/97.  Referred to Committee on Government Reform & Land Use.

Establishing a joint select subcommittee on wetlands.

    WHEREAS, The legislature recognizes the importance of preserving the environment and protecting critical areas to ensure that the state retains its natural beauty and diversity of wildlife; and

    WHEREAS, The legislature recognizes the complexity of the challenge of balancing the interests of preserving the natural surroundings while ensuring that people may alter their surroundings in harmony with the environment if they are given proper guidance and direction by definitions set forth in the laws of the state; and

    WHEREAS, State law defines wetlands extremely broadly to include areas saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency or duration sufficient to support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions but provides little accurate criteria for determining that wetlands conditions exist; and

    WHEREAS, The current definition of wetlands places too great an emphasis on temporary rather than long-term conditions; and

    WHEREAS, Local governments interpret the definition of wetlands so broadly that the residents of this state are unduly encumbered and the quality of their lives threatened by arbitrary decisions with respect to wetlands classification or designation; and

    WHEREAS, The economic well-being of the state overall is threatened by lack of specificity in the definition of wetlands;

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, By the Senate of the state of Washington, the House of Representatives concurring, That a joint select subcommittee on wetlands be established to review the statutory definition of wetlands and related issues associated with the definition of wetlands to find a more reasonable, workable definition that provides guidance and notice to property owners; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the committee consist of eight members, four members each selected by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the committee report its findings and recommendations to the legislature at the regular session held in 1998.


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