State of Washington
65th Legislature
2018 Regular Session
By Senators Angel and Wagoner
Read first time 01/12/18. Referred to Committee on Local Government.
AN ACT Relating to defining best available science for the purposes of designating fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas; amending RCW 36.70A.172; and creating a new section.
Sec. 1.  RCW 36.70A.172 and 2010 c 211 s 3 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) In designating and protecting critical areas under this chapter, counties and cities shall include the best available science in developing policies and development regulations to protect the functions and values of critical areas. In addition, counties and cities shall give special consideration to conservation or protection measures necessary to preserve or enhance anadromous fisheries.
(2)(a) For the purposes of this section, "best available science" means the findings of peer-reviewed scientific studies or data collected using methods and processes widely accepted and utilized within the scientific community. Priority shall be given in the following order:
(i) Findings and data collected within or proximate to the county or city within the state of Washington; then
(ii) Findings and data collected in a location equivalent or similar to the county or city in elevation, latitude, topography, flora, fauna, soils, and climactic conditions.
(b) Findings and data collected and studied in other nonsimilar regions of the world or in other states within the continental United States, while informative, do not constitute best available science.
(3) In designating fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, counties and cities may designate areas for species proven by best available science, including population benchmarks and other relevant data, to exist within that jurisdiction.
(4) If it determines that advice from scientific or other experts is necessary or will be of substantial assistance in reaching its decision, the growth management hearings board may retain or may allow the parties to retain and examine scientific or other expert advice, as defined under the Washington rules of evidence, to assist in reviewing a petition under RCW 36.70A.290 that involves critical areas.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  Except as otherwise specifically provided, this act is prospective in effect and shall only apply to upcoming comprehensive plan reviews by counties and cities as authorized in RCW 36.70A.130 and shall not affect the validity of actions taken or decisions made before the effective date of this section.
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