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What are Critical Areas?
The Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) identifies 5 Critical Areas, which include Wetlands, Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas (CARA’s), Frequently Flooded Areas, Geologically Hazardous Areas, and Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas. Because Yakima County plans under the GMA, it is required to protect Critical Areas. Yakima County protects critical areas through administration of the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO).

Critical Areas requirements protect key functions that enhance our environment and protect us from hazards. Benefits of Critical Areas include aesthetics and recreation, clean drinking water, wildlife and aquatic life habitat, floodwater storage, and groundwater recharge, among others. Once these areas are damaged or lost, they are very expensive to restore. The costs of floods, landslides, and contaminated drinking water are not only monetarily expensive, but can also cost lives.

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1. What are Critical Areas?
2. Will my project need a Critical Areas Permit?
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