Chapter 89.08 RCW

CONSERVATION DISTRICTS

Sections

89.08.005Short title.
89.08.010Preamble.
89.08.020Definitions.
89.08.030Conservation commission.
89.08.040MembersCompensation and travel expensesRecords, rules, hearings, etc.
89.08.050EmployeesDelegationQuorum.
89.08.060Assistance of other state agencies and institutions.
89.08.070General duties of commission.
89.08.080Petition to form districtContents.
89.08.090Notice of hearingHearing.
89.08.100FindingsOrder.
89.08.110ElectionHow conducted.
89.08.120Ballots.
89.08.130Notice of election.
89.08.140Expense of hearing and election.
89.08.150Procedure after canvass.
89.08.160Appointment of supervisorsApplication to secretary of state.
89.08.170Secretary of state's certificateChange of name.
89.08.180Annexation of territoryBoundary changeCombining two or more districts.
89.08.185Petition to withdraw from districtApproval or rejectionDisputed petitions.
89.08.190Nomination and election of supervisorsAnnual meeting of voters.
89.08.200SupervisorsTerm, vacancies, removal, etc.Compensation.
89.08.210Powers and duties of supervisors.
89.08.215TreasurerPowers and dutiesBond.
89.08.220Corporate status and powers of district.
89.08.341Intergovernmental cooperationAuthority.
89.08.350Petition to dissolve districtElection.
89.08.360Result of electionDissolution.
89.08.370Disposition of affairs upon dissolution.
89.08.390Water rights preserved1939 c 187.
89.08.391Water rights preserved1973 1st ex.s. c 184.
89.08.400Special assessments for natural resource conservation.
89.08.405Rates and charges system.
89.08.410Grants to conservation districtsRulesReport to the legislature.
89.08.440Best management practices for fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and water quantity property tax exemptionListFormsCertification of claims.
89.08.450Watershed restoration projectsIntent.
89.08.460Watershed restoration projectsDefinitions.
89.08.470Watershed restoration projectsConsolidated permit application processFish habitat enhancement project.
89.08.480Watershed restoration projectsDesignated recipients of project applicationsNotice to commission.
89.08.490Watershed restoration projectsAcceptance of applicationsPermit decisions.
89.08.500Watershed restoration projectsAppointment of project facilitator by permit assistance centerCoordinated process for permit decisions.
89.08.510Watershed restoration projectsGeneral permitsCooperative permitting agreements.
89.08.520Water quality and habitat protection grant programsDevelopment of outcome-focused performance measures.
89.08.530Agricultural conservation easements program.
89.08.540Agricultural conservation easements account.
89.08.550Conservation assistance revolving account.
89.08.560Farm plansDisclosure of information.
89.08.570Crop purchase contracts for dedicated energy crops.
89.08.580Puget Sound partners.
89.08.590Administering fundsPreference to an evergreen community.

NOTES:

Duties of conservation commission and conservation districts for dairy waste management: Chapter 90.64 RCW.
Property tax exemption for district's personal property: RCW 84.36.240, 84.36.815.
State participation in soil conservation districtLimit: RCW 86.26.100.


89.08.005

Short title.

This chapter shall be known and cited as the conservation districts law.



89.08.010

Preamble.

It is hereby declared, as a matter of legislative determination:
(1) That the lands of the state of Washington are among the basic assets of the state and that the preservation of these lands is necessary to protect and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of its people; that improper land-use practices have caused and have contributed to, and are now causing and contributing to, a progressively more serious erosion of the lands of this state by wind and water; that the breaking of natural grass, plant, and forest cover have interfered with the natural factors of soil stabilization, causing loosening of soil and exhaustion of humus, and developing a soil condition that favors erosion; that the topsoil is being blown and washed off of lands; that there has been an accelerated washing of sloping lands; that these processes of erosion by wind and water speed up with removal of absorptive topsoil, causing exposure of less absorptive and less protective but more erosive subsoil; that failure by any land occupier to conserve the soil and control erosion upon his or her lands may cause a washing and blowing of soil from his or her lands onto other lands and makes the conservation of soil and control of erosion on such other lands difficult or impossible, and that extensive denuding of land for development creates critical erosion areas that are difficult to effectively regenerate and the resulting sediment causes extensive pollution of streams, ponds, lakes, and other waters.
(2) That the consequences of such soil erosion in the form of soil blowing and soil washing are the silting and sedimentation of stream channels, reservoirs, dams, ditches, and harbors, and loading the air with soil particles; the loss of fertile soil material in dust storms; the piling up of soil on lower slopes and its deposit over alluvial plains; the reduction in productivity or outright ruin of rich bottom lands by overwash of poor subsoil material, sand, and gravel swept out of the hills; deterioration of soil and its fertility, deterioration of crops grown thereon, and declining acre yields despite development of scientific processes for increasing such yields; loss of soil and water which causes destruction of food and cover for wildlife; a blowing and washing of soil into streams which silts over spawning beds, and destroys water plants, diminishing the food supply of fish; a diminishing of the underground water reserve, which causes water shortages, intensifies periods of drought, and causes crop failures; an increase in the speed and volume of rainfall runoff, causing severe and increasing floods, which bring suffering, disease, and death; impoverishment of families attempting to farm eroding and eroded lands; damage to roads, highways, railways, buildings, and other property from floods and from dust storms; and losses in navigation, hydroelectric power, municipal water supply, irrigation developments, farming, and grazing.
(3) That to conserve soil resources and control and prevent soil erosion and prevent flood water and sediment damages, and further agricultural and nonagricultural phases of the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water, it is necessary that land-use practices contributing to soil wastage and soil erosion be discouraged and discontinued, and appropriate soil-conserving land-use practices, and works of improvement for flood prevention of agricultural and nonagricultural phases of the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water be adopted and carried out; that among the procedures necessary for widespread adoption, are the carrying on of engineering operations such as the construction of terraces, terrace outlets, check-dams, desilting basins, flood water retarding structures, channel floodways, dikes, ponds, ditches, and the like; the utilization of strip cropping, contour cultivating, and contour furrowing; land irrigation; seeding and planting of waste, sloping, abandoned, or eroded lands to water-conserving and erosion-preventing plants, trees, and grasses; forestation and reforestation; rotation of crops; soil stabilizations with trees, grasses, legumes, and other thick-growing, soil-holding crops, retardation of runoff by increasing absorption of rainfall; and retirement from cultivation of steep, highly erosive areas and areas now badly gullied or otherwise eroded.
(4) Whereas, there is a pressing need for the conservation of renewable resources in all areas of the state, whether urban, suburban, or rural, and that the benefits of resource practices, programs, and projects, as carried out by the state conservation commission and by the conservation districts, should be available to all such areas; therefore, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the legislature to provide for the conservation of the renewable resources of this state, and for the control and prevention of soil erosion, and for the prevention of flood water and sediment damages, and for furthering agricultural and nonagricultural phases of conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water, and thereby to preserve natural resources, control floods, prevent impairment of dams and reservoirs, assist in maintaining the navigability of rivers and harbors, preserve wildlife, protect the tax base, protect public lands, and protect and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the people of this state. To this end all incorporated cities and towns heretofore excluded from the boundaries of a conservation district established pursuant to the provisions of the state conservation district law, as amended, may be approved by the conservation commission as being included in and deemed a part of the district upon receiving a petition for annexation signed by the governing authority of the city or town and the conservation district within the exterior boundaries of which it lies in whole or in part or to which it lies closest.



89.08.020

Definitions.

Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, as used in this chapter:
"Commission" and "state conservation commission" means the agency created hereunder. All former references to "state soil and water conservation committee", "state committee" or "committee" shall be deemed to be references to the "state conservation commission";
"District", or "conservation district" means a governmental subdivision of this state and a public body corporate and politic, organized in accordance with the provisions of chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess., for the purposes, with the powers, and subject to the restrictions set forth in this chapter. All districts created under chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess. shall be known as conservation districts and shall have all the powers and duties set out in chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess. All references in chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess. to "districts", or "soil and water conservation districts" shall be deemed to be reference to "conservation districts";
"Board" and "supervisors" mean the board of supervisors of a conservation district;
"Land occupier" or "occupier of land" includes any person, firm, political subdivision, government agency, municipality, public or private corporation, copartnership, association, or any other entity whatsoever which holds title to, or is in possession of, any lands lying within a district organized under the provisions of chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess., whether as owner, lessee, renter, tenant, or otherwise;
"District elector" or "voter" means a registered voter in the county where the district is located who resides within the district boundary or in the area affected by a petition;
"Due notice" means a notice published at least twice, with at least six days between publications, in a publication of general circulation within the affected area, or if there is no such publication, by posting at a reasonable number of public places within the area, where it is customary to post notices concerning county and municipal affairs. Any hearing held pursuant to due notice may be postponed from time to time without a new notice;
"Renewable natural resources", "natural resources" or "resources" includes land, air, water, vegetation, fish, wildlife, wild rivers, wilderness, natural beauty, scenery and open space;
"Conservation" includes conservation, development, improvement, maintenance, preservation, protection and use, and alleviation of floodwater and sediment damages, and the disposal of excess surface waters.
"Farm and agricultural land" means either (a) land in any contiguous ownership of twenty or more acres devoted primarily to agricultural uses; (b) any parcel of land five acres or more but less than twenty acres devoted primarily to agricultural uses, which has produced a gross income from agricultural uses equivalent to one hundred dollars or more per acre per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application for classification under this chapter; or (c) any parcel of land of less than five acres devoted primarily to agricultural uses which has produced a gross income of one thousand dollars or more per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application for classification under this chapter. Agricultural lands shall also include farm woodlots of less than twenty and more than five acres and the land on which appurtenances necessary to production, preparation or sale of the agricultural products exist in conjunction with the lands producing such products. Agricultural lands shall also include any parcel of land of one to five acres, which is not contiguous, but which otherwise constitutes an integral part of farming operations being conducted on land qualifying under this section as "farm and agricultural lands".



89.08.030

Conservation commission.

There is hereby established to serve as an agency of the state and to perform the functions conferred upon it by law, the state conservation commission, which shall succeed to all powers, duties and property of the state soil and water conservation committee.
The commission shall consist of ten members, five of whom are ex officio. Two members shall be appointed by the governor, one of whom shall be a landowner or operator of a farm. At least two of the three elected members shall be landowners or operators of a farm and shall be elected as herein provided. The appointed members shall serve for a term of four years.
The three elected members shall be elected for three-year terms, one shall be elected each year by the district supervisors at their annual statewide meeting. One of the members shall reside in eastern Washington, one in central Washington and one in western Washington, the specific boundaries to be determined by district supervisors. At the first such election, the term of the member from western Washington shall be one year, central Washington two years and eastern Washington three years, and successors shall be elected for three years.
Unexpired term vacancies in the office of appointed commission members shall be filled by appointment by the governor in the same manner as full-term appointments. Unexpired terms of elected commission members shall be filled by the regional vice president of the Washington association of conservation districts who is serving that part of the state where the vacancy occurs, such term to continue only until district supervisors can fill the unexpired term by electing the commission member.
The director of the department of ecology, the director of the department of agriculture, the commissioner of public lands, the president of the Washington association of conservation districts, and the dean of the college of agriculture at Washington State University shall be ex officio members of the commission. An ex officio member of the commission shall hold office so long as he or she retains the office by virtue of which he or she is a member of the commission. Ex officio members may delegate their authority.
The commission may invite appropriate officers of cooperating organizations, state and federal agencies to serve as advisers to the conservation commission.
[ 1987 c 180 § 1; 1983 c 248 § 13; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 4; 1967 c 217 § 1; 1961 c 240 § 3; 1955 c 304 § 3. Prior: 1951 c 216 § 3; 1949 c 106 § 1, part; 1939 c 187 § 4, part; Rem. Supp. 1949 § 10726-4, part.]



89.08.040

MembersCompensation and travel expensesRecords, rules, hearings, etc.

Members shall be compensated in accordance with RCW 43.03.250 and shall be entitled to travel expenses in accordance with RCW 43.03.050 and 43.03.060 incurred in the discharge of their duties.
The commission shall keep a record of its official actions, shall adopt a seal, which shall be judicially noticed, and may perform such acts, hold such public hearings, and adopt such rules as may be necessary for the execution of its functions under chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess. The state department of ecology is empowered to pay the travel expenses of the elected and appointed members of the state conservation commission, and the salaries, wages and other expenses of such administrative officers or other employees as may be required under the provisions of this chapter.
[ 2009 c 55 § 1; 1984 c 287 § 112; 1975-'76 2nd ex.s. c 34 § 179; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 5; 1961 c 240 § 4; 1955 c 304 § 4. Prior: 1951 c 216 § 4; 1949 c 106 § 1, part; 1939 c 187 § 4, part; Rem. Supp. 1949 § 10726-4, part.]

NOTES:

Legislative findingsSeverabilityEffective date1984 c 287: See notes following RCW 43.03.220.
Effective dateSeverability1975-'76 2nd ex.s. c 34: See notes following RCW 2.08.115.



89.08.050

EmployeesDelegationQuorum.

The commission may employ an administrative officer, and such technical experts and such other agents and employees, permanent and temporary as it may require, and shall determine their qualifications, duties, and compensation. The commission may call upon the attorney general for such legal services as it may require.
It shall have authority to delegate to its chair, to one or more of its members, to one or more agents or employees such duties and powers as it deems proper. As long as the commission and the office of financial management under the provisions of chapter 43.82 RCW deems it appropriate and financially justifiable to do so, the commission shall be supplied with suitable office accommodations at the central office of the department of ecology, and shall be furnished the necessary supplies and equipment.
The commission shall organize annually and select a chair from among its members, who shall serve for one year from the date of the chair's selection. A majority of the commission shall constitute a quorum and all actions of the commission shall be by a majority vote of the members present and voting at a meeting at which a quorum is present.
[ 2009 c 55 § 2; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 6; 1961 c 240 § 5; 1955 c 304 § 5. Prior: 1949 c 106 § 1, part; 1939 c 187 § 4, part; Rem. Supp. 1949 § 10726-4, part.]



89.08.060

Assistance of other state agencies and institutions.

Upon request of the commission, for the purpose of carrying out any of its functions, the supervising officer of any state agency or state institution of learning may, insofar as may be possible under available appropriations and having due regard to the needs of the agency to which the request is directed, assign or detail to the commission, members of the staff or personnel of such agency or institution of learning, and make such special reports, surveys, or studies as the commission may request.
[ 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 7; 1955 c 304 § 6. Prior: 1949 c 106 § 1, part; 1939 c 187 § 4, part; Rem. Supp. 1949 § 10726-4, part.]



89.08.070

General duties of commission.

In addition to the duties and powers hereinafter conferred upon the commission, it shall have the following duties and powers:
(1) To offer such assistance as may be appropriate to the supervisors of conservation districts organized under the provisions of chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess., in the carrying out of any of their powers and programs:
(a) To assist and guide districts in the preparation and carrying out of programs for resource conservation authorized under chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess.;
(b) To review district programs;
(c) To coordinate the programs of the several districts and resolve any conflicts in such programs;
(d) To facilitate, promote, assist, harmonize, coordinate, and guide the resource conservation programs and activities of districts as they relate to other special purpose districts, counties, and other public agencies.
(2) To keep the supervisors of each of the several conservation districts organized under the provisions of chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess. informed of the activities and experience of all other districts organized hereunder, and to facilitate an interchange of advice and experience between such districts and cooperation between them.
(3) To review agreements, or forms of agreements, proposed to be entered into by districts with other districts or with any state, federal, interstate, or other public or private agency, organization, or individual, and advise the districts concerning such agreements or forms of agreements.
(4) To secure the cooperation and assistance of the United States and any of its agencies, and of agencies of this state in the work of such districts.
(5) To recommend the inclusion in annual and longer term budgets and appropriation legislation of the state of Washington of funds necessary for appropriation by the legislature to finance the activities of the commission and the conservation districts; to administer the provisions of any law hereinafter enacted by the legislature appropriating funds for expenditure in connection with the activities of conservation districts; to distribute to conservation districts funds, equipment, supplies and services received by the commission for that purpose from any source, subject to such conditions as shall be made applicable thereto in any state or federal statute or local ordinance making available such funds, property or services; to adopt rules establishing guidelines and suitable controls to govern the use by conservation districts of such funds, property and services; and to review all budgets, administrative procedures and operations of such districts and advise the districts concerning their conformance with applicable laws and rules.
(6) To encourage the cooperation and collaboration of state, federal, regional, interstate and local public and private agencies with the conservation districts, and facilitate arrangements under which the conservation districts may serve county governing bodies and other agencies as their local operating agencies in the administration of any activity concerned with the conservation of renewable natural resources.
(7) To disseminate information throughout the state concerning the activities and programs of the conservation districts organized hereunder, and to encourage the formation of such districts in areas where their organization is desirable; to make available information concerning the needs and the work of the conservation district and the commission to the governor, the legislature, executive agencies of the government of this state, political subdivisions of this state, cooperating federal agencies, and the general public.
(8) Pursuant to procedures developed mutually by the commission and other state and local agencies that are authorized to plan or administer activities significantly affecting the conservation of renewable natural resources, to receive from such agencies for review and comment suitable descriptions of their plans, programs and activities for purposes of coordination with district conservation programs; to arrange for and participate in conferences necessary to avoid conflict among such plans and programs, to call attention to omissions, and to avoid duplication of effort.
(9) To compile information and make studies, summaries and analysis of district programs in relation to each other and to other resource conservation programs on a statewide basis.
(10) To assist conservation districts in obtaining legal services from state and local legal officers.
(11) To require annual reports from conservation districts, the form and content of which shall be developed by the commission.
(12) To establish by rule, with the assistance and advice of the state auditor's office, adequate and reasonably uniform accounting and auditing procedures which shall be used by conservation districts.
(13) To seek and accept grants from any source, public or private, to fulfill the purposes of the agency. The commission may also accept gifts or endowments that are made from time to time, in trust or otherwise, including real and personal property, for the use and benefit consistent with the purposes of this chapter.
(14) To conduct conferences, seminars, and training sessions consistent with the purposes of this chapter, and may accept grants, gifts, and contributions, and may contract for services, to accomplish these activities. The commission may recover costs for these activities, whether the activity is sponsored or cosponsored by the commission, at a rate determined by the commission. The commission may provide reimbursement to participants in these activities and other commission sponsored meetings and events, as appropriate and approved by the commission, consistent with applicable statutes. The commission may provide meals for participants in working meetings.
(15) To adopt rules to implement this section as it deems appropriate.
[ 2009 c 55 § 3; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 8; 1961 c 240 § 6; 1955 c 304 § 7. Prior: 1949 c 106 § 1, part; 1939 c 187 § 4, part; Rem. Supp. 1949 § 10726-4, part.]



89.08.080

Petition to form districtContents.

To form a conservation district, twenty percent of the voters within the area to be affected may file a petition with the commission asking that the area be organized into a district.
The petition shall give the name of the proposed district, state that it is needed in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare, give a general description of the area proposed to be organized and request that the commission determine that it be created, and that it define the boundaries thereof and call an election on the question of creating the district.
If more than one petition is filed covering parts of the same area, the commission may consolidate all or any of them.
[ 1999 c 305 § 2; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 9; 1961 c 240 § 7; 1961 c 17 § 1. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 5, part; RRS § 10726-5, part.]



89.08.090

Notice of hearingHearing.

Within thirty days after a petition is filed, the commission shall give due notice of the time and place of a public hearing thereon. At the hearing all interested persons shall be heard.
If it appears to the commission that additional land should be included in the district, the hearing shall be adjourned and a new notice given covering the entire area and a new date fixed for further hearing, unless waiver of notice by the owners of the additional land is filed with the commission.
No district shall include any portion of a railroad right-of-way, or another similar district. The lands included in a district need not be contiguous.
[ 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 10; 1955 c 304 § 9. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 5, part; RRS § 10726-5, part.]



89.08.100

FindingsOrder.

After the hearing, if the commission finds that the public health, safety, and welfare warrant the creation of the district, it shall enter an order to that effect and define the boundaries thereof by metes and bounds or by legal subdivisions.
In making its findings the commission shall consider the topography of the particular area and of the state generally; the composition of the soil; the distribution of erosion; the prevailing land use practices; the effects upon and benefits to the land proposed to be included; the relation of the area to existing watersheds and agricultural regions and to other similar districts organized or proposed; and consider such other physical, geographical, and economic factors as are relevant.
If the commission finds there is no need for the district, it shall enter an order denying the petition, and no petition covering the same or substantially the same area may be filed within six months thereafter.
[ 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 11; 1955 c 304 § 10. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 5, part; RRS § 10726-5, part.]



89.08.110

ElectionHow conducted.

If the commission finds that the district is needed, it shall then determine whether it is practicable. To assist the commission in determining this question, it shall, within a reasonable time, submit the proposition to a vote of the district electors in the proposed district.
The commission shall fix the date of the election, designate the polling places, fix the hours for opening and closing the polls, and appoint the election officials. The election shall be conducted, the vote counted and returns canvassed and the results published by the commission.
[ 1999 c 305 § 3; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 12; 1955 c 304 § 11. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 5, part; RRS § 10726-5, part.]



89.08.120

Ballots.

The commission shall provide the ballots for the election which shall contain the words
"□ For creation of a conservation district of the lands below described and lying in the county or counties of . . . . . ., . . . . . . and . . . . . .," and
"□ Against creation of a conservation district of the lands below described and lying in the county or counties of . . . . . ., . . . . . . and . . . . . ."
The ballot shall set forth the boundaries of the proposed district, and contain a direction to insert an X in the square of the voter's choice.
[ 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 13; 1961 c 240 § 8; 1955 c 304 § 12. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 5, part; RRS § 10726-5, part.]



89.08.130

Notice of election.

The commission shall give due notice of the election, which shall state generally the purpose of the election, the date thereof, the place and hours of voting, and set forth the boundaries of the proposed district.
Only qualified district electors within the proposed district as determined by the commission may vote at the election. Each voter shall vote in the polling place nearest the voter's residence.
[ 1999 c 305 § 4; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 14; 1955 c 304 § 13. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 5, part; RRS § 10726-5, part.]



89.08.140

Expense of hearing and election.

The commission shall bear all expense of giving the notices and conducting the hearings and election, and shall issue regulations governing all hearings and elections and supervise the conduct thereof. It shall provide for registration of eligible voters or prescribe the procedure to determine the eligible voters. No informality in connection with the election shall invalidate the results, if the notice thereof was substantially given, and the election fairly conducted.
[ 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 15; 1955 c 304 § 14. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 5, part; RRS § 10726-5, part.]



89.08.150

Procedure after canvass.

If a majority of the votes cast at the election are against the creation of the district, the commission shall deny the petition. If a majority favor the district, the commission shall determine the practicability of the project.
In making such determination, the commission shall consider the attitude of the voters of the district; the number of eligible voters who voted at the election; the size of the majority vote; the wealth and income of the land occupiers; the probable expense of carrying out the project; and any other economic factors relevant thereto.
If the commission finds that the project is impracticable it shall enter an order to that effect and deny the petition. When the petition has been denied, no new petition covering the same or substantially the same area may be filed within six months therefrom.
[ 1999 c 305 § 5; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 16; 1955 c 304 § 15. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 5, part; RRS § 10726-5, part.]



89.08.160

Appointment of supervisorsApplication to secretary of state.

If the commission finds the project practicable, it shall appoint two supervisors, one of whom shall be a landowner or operator of a farm, who shall be qualified by training and experience to perform the specialized skilled services required of them. They, with the three elected supervisors, two of whom shall be landowners or operators of a farm, shall constitute the governing board of the district.
The two appointed supervisors shall file with the secretary of state a sworn application, reciting that a petition was filed with the commission for the creation of the district; that all required proceedings were had thereon; that they were appointed by the commission as such supervisors; and that the application is being filed to complete the organization of the district. It shall contain the names and residences of the applicants, a certified copy of their appointments, the name of the district, the location of the office of the supervisors and the term of office of each applicant.
The application shall be accompanied by a statement of the commission, reciting that a petition was filed, notice issued, and hearing held thereon as required; that it determined the need for the district and defined the boundaries thereof; that notice was given and an election held on the question of creating the district; that a majority vote favored the district, and that the commission had determined the district practicable; and shall set forth the boundaries of the district.
[ 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 17; 1955 c 304 § 16. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 5, part; RRS § 10726-5, part.]



89.08.170

Secretary of state's certificateChange of name.

If the secretary of state finds that the name of the proposed district is such as will not be confused with that of any other district, he or she shall enter the application and statement in his or her records. If he or she finds the name may be confusing, he or she shall certify that fact to the commission, which shall submit a new name free from such objections, and he or she shall enter the application and statement as modified, in his or her records. Thereupon the district shall be considered organized into a body corporate.
The secretary of state shall then issue to the supervisors a certificate of organization of the district under the seal of the state, and shall record the certificate in his or her office. Proof of the issuance of the certificate shall be evidence of the establishment of the district, and a certified copy of the certificate shall be admissible as evidence and shall be proof of the filing and contents thereof. The name of a conservation district may be changed upon recommendation by the supervisors of a district and approval by the state conservation commission and the secretary of state. The new name shall be recorded by the secretary of state following the same general procedure as for the previous name.



89.08.180

Annexation of territoryBoundary changeCombining two or more districts.

Territory may be added to an existing district upon filing a petition as in the case of formation with the commission by twenty percent of the voters of the affected area to be included. The same procedure shall be followed as for the creation of the district.
As an alternate procedure, the commission may upon the petition of a majority of the voters in any one or more districts or in unorganized territory adjoining a conservation district change the boundaries of a district, or districts, if such action will promote the practical and feasible administration of such district or districts.
Upon petition of the boards of supervisors of two or more districts, the commission may approve the combining of all or parts of such districts and name the district, or districts, with the approval of the name by the secretary of state. A public hearing and/or a referendum may be held if deemed necessary or desirable by the commission in order to determine the wishes of the voters.
When districts are combined, the joint boards of supervisors will first select a chair, secretary, and other necessary officers and select a regular date for meetings. All elected supervisors will continue to serve as members of the board until the expiration of their current term of office, and/or until the election date nearest their expiration date. All appointed supervisors will continue to serve until the expiration of their current term of office, at which time the commission will make the necessary appointments. In the event that more than two districts are combined, a similar procedure will be set up and administered by the commission.
When districts are combined or territory is moved from one district to another, the property, records, and accounts of the districts involved shall be distributed to the remaining district or districts as approved by the commission. A new certificate of organization, naming and describing the new district or districts, shall be issued by the secretary of state.



89.08.185

Petition to withdraw from districtApproval or rejectionDisputed petitions.

The local governing body of any city or incorporated town within an existing district may approve by majority vote a petition to withdraw from the district. The petition shall be submitted to the district for its approval. If approved by the district, the petition shall be sent to the commission. The commission shall approve the petition and forward it to the secretary of state and the boundary of the district shall be adjusted accordingly. If the petition is not approved by the district, the district shall adopt a resolution specifying the reasons why the petition is not approved. The petition and the district's resolution shall be sent to the commission for its review. The commission shall approve or reject the petition based upon criteria it has adopted for the evaluation of petitions in dispute. If the commission approves the petition, it shall forward the petition to the secretary of state and the boundaries of the district shall be adjusted accordingly. The criteria used by the commission to evaluate petitions which are in dispute shall be adopted as rules by the commission under chapter 34.05 RCW, the administrative procedure act.



89.08.190

Nomination and election of supervisorsAnnual meeting of voters.

Within thirty days after the issuance of the certificate of organization, unless the time is extended by the commission, petitions shall be filed with the commission to nominate candidates for the three elected supervisors. The petition shall be signed by not less than twenty-five district electors, and a district elector may sign petitions nominating more than one person.
In the case of a new district, the commission shall give due notice to elect the three supervisors. All provisions pertaining to elections on the creation of a district shall govern this election so far as applicable. The names of all nominees shall appear on the ballot in alphabetical order, together with instructions to vote for three. The three candidates receiving the most votes shall be declared elected supervisors, the one receiving the most being elected for a three-year term, the next for two and the last for one year. An alternate method of dividing the district into three zones may be used when requested by the board of supervisors and approved by the commission. In such case, instructions will be to vote for one in each zone. The candidate receiving the most votes in a zone shall be declared elected.
Each year after the creation of the first board of supervisors, the board shall by resolution and by giving due notice, set a date during the first quarter of each calendar year at which time it shall conduct an election, except that for elections in 2002 only, the board shall set the date during the second quarter of the calendar year at which time it shall conduct an election. Names of candidates nominated by petition shall appear in alphabetical order on the ballots, together with an extra line wherein may be written in the name of any other candidate. The commission shall establish procedures for elections, canvass the returns and announce the official results thereof. Election results may be announced by polling officials at the close of the election subject to official canvass of ballots by the commission. Supervisors elected shall take office at the first board meeting following the election.

NOTES:

IntentEffective date2002 c 43: See notes following RCW 29A.04.330.



89.08.200

SupervisorsTerm, vacancies, removal, etc.Compensation.

The term of office of each supervisor shall be three years and until his or her successor is appointed or elected and qualified, except that the supervisors first appointed shall serve for one and two years respectively from the date of their appointments, as designated in their appointments.
In the case of elected supervisors, the term of office of each supervisor shall be three years and until his or her successor is elected and qualified, except that for the first election, the one receiving the largest number of votes shall be elected for three years; the next largest two years; and the third largest one year. Successors shall be elected for three-year terms.
Vacancies in the office of appointed supervisors shall be filled by the state conservation commission. Vacancies in the office of elected supervisors shall be filled by appointment made by the remaining supervisors for the unexpired term.
A majority of the supervisors shall constitute a quorum and the concurrence of a majority is required for any official action or determination.
Supervisors shall serve without compensation, but they shall be entitled to expenses, including traveling expenses, necessarily incurred in discharge of their duties. A supervisor may be removed by the state conservation commission upon notice and hearing, for neglect of duty or malfeasance in office, but for no other reason.
The governing board shall designate a chair from time to time.
[ 2013 c 23 § 550; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 21; 1961 c 240 § 12; 1955 c 304 § 21. Prior: 1949 c 106 § 2, part; 1939 c 187 § 7, part; Rem. Supp. 1949 § 10726-7, part.]



89.08.210

Powers and duties of supervisors.

The supervisors may employ a secretary, treasurer, technical experts, and such other officers, agents, and employees, permanent and temporary, as they may require, and determine their qualifications, duties, and compensation. It may call upon the attorney general for legal services, or may employ its own counsel and legal staff. The supervisors may delegate to their chair, to one or more supervisors, or to one or more agents or employees such powers and duties as it deems proper. The supervisors shall furnish to the commission, upon request, copies of such internal rules, regulations, orders, contracts, forms, and other documents as they shall adopt or employ, and such other information concerning their activities as the commission may require in the performance of its duties under chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess. The supervisors shall provide for the execution of surety bonds for officers and all employees who shall be entrusted with funds or property.
The supervisors shall provide for the keeping of a full and accurate record of all proceedings, resolutions, regulations, and orders issued or adopted. The supervisors shall provide for an annual audit of the accounts of receipts and disbursements in accordance with procedures prescribed by regulations of the commission.
The board may invite the legislative body of any municipality or county near or within the district, to designate a representative to advise and consult with it on all questions of program and policy which may affect the property, water supply, or other interests of such municipality or county. The governing body of a district shall appoint such advisory committees as may be needed to assure the availability of appropriate channels of communication to the board of supervisors, to persons affected by district operations, and to local, regional, state and interstate special-purpose districts and agencies responsible for community planning, zoning, or other resource development activities. The district shall keep such committees informed of its work, and such advisory committees shall submit recommendations from time to time to the board of supervisors.
[ 2013 c 23 § 551; 2000 c 45 § 1; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 22; 1955 c 304 § 22. Prior: 1949 c 106 § 2, part; 1939 c 187 § 7, part; Rem. Supp. 1949 § 10726-7, part.]



89.08.215

TreasurerPowers and dutiesBond.

(1) The treasurer of the county in which a conservation district is located is ex officio treasurer of the district. However, the board of supervisors by resolution may designate some other person having experience in financial or fiscal matters as treasurer of the conservation district. The board of supervisors shall require a bond, with a surety company authorized to do business in the state of Washington, in an amount and under the terms and conditions which the board of supervisors by resolution from time to time finds will protect the district against loss. The premium on this bond shall be paid by the district.
(2) All district funds shall be paid to the treasurer and disbursed only on warrants issued by an auditor appointed by the board of supervisors, upon orders or vouchers approved by it. The treasurer shall establish a conservation district fund into which shall be paid all district funds. The treasurer shall maintain any special funds created by the board of supervisors for the placement of all money as the board of supervisors may, by resolution, direct.
(3) If the treasurer of the district is the treasurer of the county all district funds shall be deposited with the county depositaries under the same restrictions, contracts, and security as provided for county depositaries. If the treasurer of the district is some other person, all funds shall be deposited in a bank or banks authorized to do business in this state as the board of supervisors, by resolution, designates.
(4) A district may provide and require a reasonable bond of any other person handling moneys or securities of the district, if the district pays the premium.
(5)(a) A district may disburse funds in payment of salaries, wages, and any other approved financial reimbursement to any employee or contractor of the district to any financial institution for either: (i) Credit to the employees' or contractors' accounts in such financial institution; or (ii) immediate transfer therefrom to the employees' or contractors' accounts in any other financial institutions.
(b) As used in this subsection (5), "financial institution" has the definition in RCW 41.04.240.



89.08.220

Corporate status and powers of district.

A conservation district organized under the provisions of chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess. shall constitute a governmental subdivision of this state, and a public body corporate and politic exercising public powers, but shall not levy taxes or issue bonds and such district, and the supervisors thereof, shall have the following powers, in addition to others granted in other sections of chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess.:
(1) To conduct surveys, investigations, and research relating to the conservation of renewable natural resources and the preventive and control measures and works of improvement needed, to publish the results of such surveys, investigations, or research, and to disseminate information concerning such preventive and control measures and works of improvement: PROVIDED, That in order to avoid duplication of research activities, no district shall initiate any research program except in cooperation with the government of this state or any of its agencies, or with the United States or any of its agencies;
(2) To conduct educational and demonstrational projects on any lands within the district upon obtaining the consent of the occupier of such lands and such necessary rights or interests in such lands as may be required in order to demonstrate by example the means, methods, measures, and works of improvement by which the conservation of renewable natural resources may be carried out;
(3) To carry out preventative and control measures and works of improvement for the conservation of renewable natural resources, within the district including, but not limited to, engineering operations, methods of cultivation, the growing of vegetation, changes in use of lands, and the measures listed in RCW 89.08.010, on any lands within the district upon obtaining the consent of the occupier of such lands and such necessary rights or interests in such lands as may be required;
(4) To cooperate or enter into agreements with, and within the limits of appropriations duly made available to it by law, to furnish financial or other aid to any agency, governmental or otherwise, or any occupier of lands within the district in the carrying on of preventive and control measures and works of improvement for the conservation of renewable natural resources within the district, subject to such conditions as the supervisors may deem necessary to advance the purposes of chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess. For purposes of this subsection only, land occupiers who are also district supervisors are not subject to the provisions of RCW 42.23.030;
(5) To obtain options upon and to acquire in any manner, except by condemnation, by purchase, exchange, lease, gift, bequest, devise, or otherwise, any property, real or personal, or rights or interests therein; to maintain, administer, and improve any properties acquired, to receive income from such properties and to expend such income in carrying out the purposes and provisions of chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess.; and to sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of any of its property or interests therein in furtherance of the purposes and the provisions of chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess.;
(6) To make available, on such terms, as it shall prescribe, to land occupiers within the district, agricultural and engineering machinery and equipment, fertilizer, seeds, seedlings, and such other equipment and material as will assist them to carry on operations upon their lands for the conservation of renewable natural resources;
(7) To prepare and keep current a comprehensive long-range program recommending the conservation of all the renewable natural resources of the district. Such programs shall be directed toward the best use of renewable natural resources and in a manner that will best meet the needs of the district and the state, taking into consideration, where appropriate, such uses as farming, grazing, timber supply, forest, parks, outdoor recreation, potable water supplies for urban and rural areas, water for agriculture, minimal flow, and industrial uses, watershed stabilization, control of soil erosion, retardation of water runoff, flood prevention and control, reservoirs and other water storage, restriction of developments of floodplains, protection of open space and scenery, preservation of natural beauty, protection of fish and wildlife, preservation of wilderness areas and wild rivers, the prevention or reduction of sedimentation and other pollution in rivers and other waters, and such location of highways, schools, housing developments, industries, airports and other facilities and structures as will fit the needs of the state and be consistent with the best uses of the renewable natural resources of the state. The program shall include an inventory of all renewable natural resources in the district, a compilation of current resource needs, projections of future resource requirements, priorities for various resource activities, projected timetables, descriptions of available alternatives, and provisions for coordination with other resource programs.
The district shall also prepare an annual work plan, which shall describe the action programs, services, facilities, materials, working arrangements and estimated funds needed to carry out the parts of the long-range programs that are of the highest priorities.
The districts shall hold public hearings at appropriate times in connection with the preparation of programs and plans, shall give careful consideration to the views expressed and problems revealed in hearings, and shall keep the public informed concerning their programs, plans, and activities. Occupiers of land shall be invited to submit proposals for consideration to such hearings. The districts may supplement such hearings with meetings, referenda and other suitable means to determine the wishes of interested parties and the general public in regard to current and proposed plans and programs of a district. They shall confer with public and private agencies, individually and in groups, to give and obtain information and understanding of the impact of district operations upon agriculture, forestry, water supply and quality, flood control, particular industries, commercial concerns and other public and private interests, both rural and urban.
Each district shall submit to the commission its proposed long-range program and annual work plans for review and comment.
The long-range renewable natural resource program, together with the supplemental annual work plans, developed by each district under the foregoing procedures shall have official status as the authorized program of the district, and it shall be published by the districts as its "renewable resources program". Copies shall be made available by the districts to the appropriate counties, municipalities, special purpose districts and state agencies, and shall be made available in convenient places for examination by public land occupier or private interest concerned. Summaries of the program and selected material therefrom shall be distributed as widely as feasible for public information;
(8) To administer any project or program concerned with the conservation of renewable natural resources located within its boundaries undertaken by any federal, state, or other public agency by entering into a contract or other appropriate administrative arrangement with any agency administering such project or program;
(9) Cooperate with other districts organized under chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess. in the exercise of any of its powers;
(10) To accept donations, gifts, and contributions in money, services, materials, or otherwise, from the United States or any of its agencies, from this state or any of its agencies, or from any other source, and to use or expend such moneys, services, materials, or any contributions in carrying out the purposes of chapter 184, Laws 1973 1st ex. sess.;
(11) To sue and be sued in the name of the district; to have a seal which shall be judicially noticed; have perpetual succession unless terminated as hereinafter provided; to make and execute contracts and other instruments, necessary or convenient to the exercise of its powers; to borrow money and to pledge, mortgage and assign the income of the district and its real or personal property therefor; and to make, amend rules and regulations not inconsistent with chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess. and to carry into effect its purposes;
(12) Any two or more districts may engage in joint activities by agreement between or among them in planning, financing, constructing, operating, maintaining, and administering any program or project concerned with the conservation of renewable natural resources. The districts concerned may make available for purposes of the agreement any funds, property, personnel, equipment, or services available to them under chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess.;
Any district may enter into such agreements with a district or districts in adjoining states to carry out such purposes if the law in such other states permits the districts in such states to enter into such agreements.
The commission shall have authority to propose, guide, and facilitate the establishment and carrying out of any such agreement;
(13) Every district shall, through public hearings, annual meetings, publications, or other means, keep the general public, agencies and occupiers of land within the district, informed of the works and activities planned and administered by the district, of the purposes these will serve, of the income and expenditures of the district, of the funds borrowed by the district and the purposes for which such funds are expended, and of the results achieved annually by the district; and
(14) The supervisors of conservation districts may designate an area, state, and national association of conservation districts as a coordinating agency in the execution of the duties imposed by this chapter, and to make gifts in the form of dues, quotas, or otherwise to such associations for costs of services rendered, and may support and attend such meetings as may be required to promote and perfect the organization and to effect its purposes.



89.08.341

Intergovernmental cooperationAuthority.

Any agency of the government of this state and any local political subdivision of this state is hereby authorized to make such arrangements with any district, through contract, regulation or other appropriate means, wherever it believes that such arrangements will promote administrative efficiency or economy.
In connection with any such arrangements, any state or local agency or political subdivision of this state is authorized, within the limits of funds available to it, to contribute funds, equipment, property or services to any district; and to collaborate with a district in jointly planning, constructing, financing or operating any work or activity provided for in such arrangements and in the joint acquisition, maintenance and operation of equipment or facilities in connection therewith.
State agencies, the districts, and other local agencies are authorized to make available to each other maps, reports and data in their possession that are useful in the preparation of their respective programs and plans for resource conservation. The districts shall keep the state and local agencies fully informed concerning the status and progress of the preparation of their resource conservation programs and plans.
The state conservation commission and the counties of the state may provide respective conservation districts such administrative funds as will be necessary to carry out the purpose of chapter 184, Laws of 1973 1st ex. sess.



89.08.350

Petition to dissolve districtElection.

At any time after five years from the organization of a district, twenty percent of the voters in the district may file with the commission a petition, praying that the district be dissolved. The commission may hold public hearings thereon, and within sixty days from receipt of the petition, shall give due notice of an election on the question of dissolution. It shall provide appropriate ballots, conduct the election, canvass the returns, and declare the results in the same manner as for elections to create a district.
All district electors may vote at the election. No informality relating to the election shall invalidate it if notice is substantially given and the election is fairly conducted.
[ 1999 c 305 § 9; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 25; 1955 c 304 § 25. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 15, part; RRS § 10726-15, part.]



89.08.360

Result of electionDissolution.

If a majority of the votes cast at the election are for dissolution, the district shall be dissolved.
[ 1999 c 305 § 10; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 26; 1955 c 304 § 26. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 15, part; RRS § 10726-15, part.]



89.08.370

Disposition of affairs upon dissolution.

If the district is ordered dissolved, the supervisors shall forthwith terminate the affairs of the district and dispose of all district property at public auction, and pay the proceeds therefrom to pay any debts of the district and any remaining balance to the state treasurer.
They shall then file a verified application with the secretary of state for the dissolution of the district, accompanied by a certificate of the commission reciting the determination that further operation of the district is impracticable. The application shall recite that the property of the district has been disposed of, that the proceeds therefrom have been used to pay any debts of the district and any remaining balance paid to the treasurer, and contain a full accounting of the property and proceeds. Thereupon the secretary shall issue to the supervisors a certificate of dissolution and file a copy thereof in his or her records.
[ 1999 c 305 § 11; 1973 1st ex.s. c 184 § 27; 1955 c 304 § 27. Prior: 1939 c 187 § 15, part; RRS § 10726-15, part.]



89.08.390

Water rights preserved1939 c 187.

Insofar as any of the provisions of this chapter are inconsistent with the provisions of any other law, the provisions of this chapter shall be controlling: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That none of the provisions of this chapter shall be construed so as to impair water rights appurtenant to lands within or without the boundaries of any district or districts organized hereunder.
[ 1939 c 187 § 17; RRS § 10726-17.]



89.08.391

Water rights preserved1973 1st ex.s. c 184.

Insofar as any of the provisions of this chapter are inconsistent with the provisions of any other law, the provisions of this chapter shall be controlling: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That none of the provisions of this chapter shall be construed so as to impair water rights appurtenant to lands within or without the boundaries of any district or districts organized hereunder.



89.08.400

Special assessments for natural resource conservation.

(1) Special assessments are authorized to be imposed for conservation districts as provided in this section. Activities and programs to conserve natural resources, including soil and water, are declared to be of special benefit to lands and may be used as the basis upon which special assessments are imposed.
(2) Special assessments to finance the activities of a conservation district may be imposed by the county legislative authority of the county in which the conservation district is located for a period or periods each not to exceed ten years in duration.
The supervisors of a conservation district shall hold a public hearing on a proposed system of assessments prior to the first day of August in the year prior to which it is proposed that the initial special assessments be collected. At that public hearing, the supervisors shall gather information and shall alter the proposed system of assessments when appropriate, including the number of years during which it is proposed that the special assessments be imposed.
On or before the first day of August in that year, the supervisors of a conservation district shall file the proposed system of assessments, indicating the years during which it is proposed that the special assessments shall be imposed, and a proposed budget for the succeeding year with the county legislative authority of the county within which the conservation district is located. The county legislative authority shall hold a public hearing on the proposed system of assessments. After the hearing, the county legislative authority may accept, or modify and accept, the proposed system of assessments, including the number of years during which the special assessments shall be imposed, if it finds that both the public interest will be served by the imposition of the special assessments and that the special assessments to be imposed on any land will not exceed the special benefit that the land receives or will receive from the activities of the conservation district. The findings of the county legislative authority shall be final and conclusive. Special assessments may be altered during this period on individual parcels in accordance with the system of assessments if land is divided or land uses or other factors change.
Notice of the public hearings held by the supervisors and the county legislative authority shall be posted conspicuously in at least five places throughout the conservation district, and published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper in general circulation throughout the conservation district, with the date of the last publication at least five days prior to the public hearing.
(3) A system of assessments shall classify lands in the conservation district into suitable classifications according to benefits conferred or to be conferred by the activities of the conservation district, determine an annual per acre rate of assessment for each classification of land, and indicate the total amount of special assessments proposed to be obtained from each classification of lands. Lands deemed not to receive benefit from the activities of the conservation district shall be placed into a separate classification and shall not be subject to the special assessments. An annual assessment rate shall be stated as either uniform annual per acre amount, or an annual flat rate per parcel plus a uniform annual rate per acre amount, for each classification of land. The maximum annual per acre special assessment rate shall not exceed ten cents per acre. The maximum annual per parcel rate shall not exceed five dollars, except that for counties with a population of over one million five hundred thousand persons, the maximum annual per parcel rate shall not exceed ten dollars.
Public land, including lands owned or held by the state, shall be subject to special assessments to the same extent as privately owned lands. The procedures provided in chapter 79.44 RCW shall be followed if lands owned or held by the state are subject to the special assessments of a conservation district.
Forestlands used solely for the planting, growing, or harvesting of trees may be subject to special assessments if such lands benefit from the activities of the conservation district, but the per acre rate of special assessment on benefited forestlands shall not exceed one-tenth of the weighted average per acre assessment on all other lands within the conservation district that are subject to its special assessments. The calculation of the weighted average per acre special assessment shall be a ratio calculated as follows: (a) The numerator shall be the total amount of money estimated to be derived from the imposition of per acre special assessments on the nonforestlands in the conservation district; and (b) the denominator shall be the total number of nonforestland acres in the conservation district that receive benefit from the activities of the conservation district and which are subject to the special assessments of the conservation district. No more than ten thousand acres of such forestlands that is both owned by the same person or entity and is located in the same conservation district may be subject to the special assessments that are imposed for that conservation district in any year. Per parcel charges shall not be imposed on forestland parcels. However, in lieu of a per parcel charge, a charge of up to three dollars per forest landowner may be imposed on each owner of forestlands whose forestlands are subject to a per acre rate of assessment.
(4) A conservation district shall prepare an assessment roll that implements the system of assessments approved by the county legislative authority. The special assessments from the assessment roll shall be spread by the county assessor as a separate item on the tax rolls and shall be collected and accounted for with property taxes by the county treasurer. The amount of a special assessment shall constitute a lien against the land that shall be subject to the same conditions as a tax lien, collected by the treasurer in the same manner as delinquent real property taxes, and subject to the same interest rate and penalty as for delinquent property taxes. The county treasurer shall deduct an amount from the collected special assessments, as established by the county legislative authority, to cover the costs incurred by the county assessor and county treasurer in spreading and collecting the special assessments, but not to exceed the actual costs of such work. All remaining funds collected under this section shall be transferred to the conservation district and used by the conservation district in accordance with this section.
(5) The special assessments for a conservation district shall not be spread on the tax rolls and shall not be collected with property tax collections in the following year if, after the system of assessments has been approved by the county legislative authority but prior to the fifteenth day of December in that year, a petition has been filed with the county legislative authority objecting to the imposition of such special assessments, which petition has been signed by at least twenty percent of the owners of land that would be subject to the special assessments to be imposed for a conservation district.



89.08.405

Rates and charges system.

(1) Any county legislative authority may approve by resolution revenues to a conservation district by fixing rates and charges. The county legislative authority may provide for this system of rates and charges as an alternative to, but not in addition to, a special assessment provided by RCW 89.08.400. In fixing rates and charges, the county legislative authority may in its discretion consider the information proposed to the county legislative authority by a conservation district consistent with this section.
(2) A conservation district, in proposing a system of rates and charges, may consider:
(a) Services furnished, to be furnished, or available to the landowner;
(b) Benefits received, to be received, or available to the property;
(c) The character and use of land;
(d) The nonprofit public benefit status, as defined in RCW 24.03.490, of the land user;
(e) The income level of persons served or provided benefits under this chapter, including senior citizens and disabled persons; or
(f) Any other matters that present a reasonable difference as a ground for distinction, including the natural resource needs within the district and the capacity of the district to provide either services or improvements, or both.
(3)(a) The system of rates and charges may include an annual per acre amount, an annual per parcel amount, or an annual per parcel amount plus an annual per acre amount. If included in the system of rates and charges, the maximum annual per acre rate or charge shall not exceed ten cents per acre. The maximum annual per parcel rate shall not exceed five dollars, except that for counties with a population of over four hundred eighty thousand persons, the maximum annual per parcel rate shall not exceed ten dollars, and for counties with a population of over one million five hundred thousand persons, the maximum annual per parcel rate shall not exceed fifteen dollars.
(b) Public land, including lands owned or held by the state, shall be subject to rates and charges to the same extent as privately owned lands. The procedures provided in chapter 79.44 RCW shall be followed if lands owned or held by the state are subject to the rates and charges of a conservation district.
(c) Forestlands used solely for the planting, growing, or harvesting of trees may be subject to rates and charges if such lands are served by the activities of the conservation district. However, if the system of rates and charges includes an annual per acre amount or an annual per parcel amount plus an annual per acre amount, the per acre rate or charge on such forestlands shall not exceed one-tenth of the weighted average per acre rate or charge on all other lands within the conservation district that are subject to rates and charges. The calculation of the weighted average per acre shall be a ratio calculated as follows: (i) The numerator shall be the total amount of money estimated to be derived from the per acre special rates and charges on the nonforestlands in the conservation district; and (ii) the denominator shall be the total number of nonforestland acres in the conservation district that are served by the activities of the conservation district and that are subject to the rates or charges of the conservation district. No more than ten thousand acres of such forestlands that is both owned by the same person or entity and is located in the same conservation district may be subject to the rates and charges that are imposed for that conservation district in any year. Per parcel charges shall not be imposed on forestland parcels. However, in lieu of a per parcel charge, a charge of up to three dollars per forest landowner may be imposed on each owner of forestlands whose forestlands are subject to a per acre rate or charge.
(4) The consideration, development, adoption, and implementation of a system of rates and charges shall follow the same public notice and hearing process and be subject to the same procedure and authority of RCW 89.08.400(2).
(5)(a) Following the adoption of a system of rates and charges, the conservation district board of supervisors shall establish by resolution a process providing for landowner appeals of the individual rates and charges as applicable to a parcel or parcels.
(b) Any appeal must be filed by the landowner with the conservation district no later than twenty-one days after the date property taxes are due. The decision of the board of supervisors regarding any appeal shall be final and conclusive.
(c) Any appeal of the decision of the board shall be to the superior court of the county in which the district is located, and served and filed within twenty-one days of the date of the board's written decision.
(6) A conservation district shall prepare a roll that implements the system of rates and charges approved by the county legislative authority. The rates and charges from the roll shall be spread by the county assessor as a separate item on the tax rolls and shall be collected and accounted for with property taxes by the county treasurer. The amount of the rates and charges shall constitute a lien against the land that shall be subject to the same conditions as a tax lien, and collected by the treasurer in the same manner as delinquent real property taxes, and subject to the same interest and penalty as for delinquent property taxes. The county treasurer shall deduct an amount from the collected rates and charges, as established by the county legislative authority, to cover the costs incurred by the county assessor and county treasurer in spreading and collecting the rates and charges, but not to exceed the actual costs of such work. All remaining funds collected under this section shall be transferred to the conservation district and used by the conservation district in accordance with this section.
(7) The rates and charges for a conservation district shall not be spread on the tax rolls and shall not be allocated with property tax collections in the following year if, after the system of rates and charges has been approved by the county legislative authority but before the fifteenth day of December in that year, a petition has been filed with the county legislative authority objecting to the imposition of such rates and charges, which petition has been signed by at least twenty percent of the owners of land that would be subject to the rate or charge to be imposed for a conservation district.

NOTES:

Effective date2012 c 60: "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately [March 20, 2012]." [ 2012 c 60 § 3.]



89.08.410

Grants to conservation districtsRulesReport to the legislature.

The state conservation commission may authorize grants to conservation districts from moneys appropriated to the commission for such purposes as provided in this section. Such grants shall be awarded annually on or before the last day of June of each year and shall be made only to those conservation districts that apply for the grants. The conservation commission may adopt rules pertaining to eligibility and distribution of these funds. The conservation commission shall submit a report on the distribution of these funds to the appropriate committees of the legislature by September 30, 2007.

NOTES:

Effective date2005 c 31: "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately [April 13, 2005]." [ 2005 c 31 § 2.]



89.08.440

Best management practices for fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and water quantity property tax exemptionListFormsCertification of claims.

(1) For the purpose of identifying property that may qualify for the exemption provided under RCW 84.36.255, each conservation district shall develop and maintain a list of best management practices that qualify for the exemption.
(2) Each conservation district shall ensure that the appropriate forms approved by the department of revenue are made available to property owners who may qualify for the exemption under RCW 84.36.255 and shall certify claims for exemption as provided in RCW 84.36.255(3).

NOTES:

Purpose1997 c 295: See note following RCW 84.36.255.



89.08.450

Watershed restoration projectsIntent.

The legislature declares that it is the goal of the state of Washington to preserve and restore the natural resources of the state and, in particular, fish and wildlife and their habitat. It is further the policy of the state insofar as possible to utilize the volunteer organizations who have demonstrated their commitment to these goals.
To this end, it is the intent of the legislature to minimize the expense and delays caused by unnecessary bureaucratic process in securing permits for projects that preserve or restore native fish and wildlife habitat.



89.08.460

Watershed restoration projectsDefinitions.

Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section shall apply throughout RCW 89.08.450 through 89.08.510.
(1) "Watershed restoration plan" means a plan, developed or sponsored by the department of fish and wildlife, the department of ecology, the department of natural resources, the department of transportation, a federally recognized Indian tribe acting within and pursuant to its authority, a city, a county, or a conservation district, that provides a general program and implementation measures or actions for the preservation, restoration, re-creation, or enhancement of the natural resources, character, and ecology of a stream, stream segment, drainage area, or watershed, and for which agency and public review has been conducted pursuant to chapter 43.21C RCW, the state environmental policy act. If the implementation measures or actions would have a probable significant, adverse environmental impact, a detailed statement under RCW 43.21C.031 must be prepared on the plan.
(2) "Watershed restoration project" means a public or private project authorized by the sponsor of a watershed restoration plan that implements the plan or a part of the plan and consists of one or more of the following activities:
(a) A project that involves less than ten miles of streamreach, in which less than twenty-five cubic yards of sand, gravel, or soil is removed, imported, disturbed, or discharged, and in which no existing vegetation is removed except as minimally necessary to facilitate additional plantings;
(b) A project for the restoration of an eroded or unstable stream bank that employs the principles of bioengineering, including limited use of rock as a stabilization only at the toe of the bank, and with primary emphasis on using native vegetation to control the erosive forces of flowing water; or
(c) A project primarily designed to improve fish and wildlife habitat, remove or reduce impediments to migration of fish, or enhance the fishery resource available for use by all of the citizens of the state, provided that any structure other than a bridge or culvert or instream habitat enhancement structure associated with the project is less than two hundred square feet in floor area and is located above the ordinary high water mark of the stream.



89.08.470

Watershed restoration projectsConsolidated permit application processFish habitat enhancement project.

(1) By January 1, 1996, the Washington conservation commission shall develop, in consultation with other state agencies, tribes, and local governments, a consolidated application process for permits for a watershed restoration project developed by an agency or sponsored by an agency on behalf of a volunteer organization. The consolidated process shall include a single permit application form for use by all responsible state and local agencies. The commission shall encourage use of the consolidated permit application process by any federal agency responsible for issuance of related permits. The permit application forms to be consolidated shall include, at a minimum, applications for: (a) Approvals related to water quality standards under chapter 90.48 RCW; (b) hydraulic project approvals under chapter 77.55 RCW; and (c) section 401 water quality certifications under 33 U.S.C. Sec. 1341 and chapter 90.48 RCW.
(2) If a watershed restoration project is also a fish habitat enhancement project that meets the criteria of *RCW 77.55.290(1), the project sponsor shall instead follow the permit review and approval process established in *RCW 77.55.290 with regard to state and local government permitting requirements. The sponsor shall so notify state and local permitting authorities.

NOTES:

*Reviser's note: RCW 77.55.290 was recodified as RCW 77.55.181 pursuant to 2005 c 146 § 1001.
FindingsPurposeReportEffective date1998 c 249: See notes following RCW 77.55.181.



89.08.480

Watershed restoration projectsDesignated recipients of project applicationsNotice to commission.

Each agency of the state and unit of local government that claims jurisdiction or the right to require permits, other approvals, or fees as a condition of allowing a watershed restoration project to proceed shall designate an office or official as a designated recipient of project applications and shall inform the conservation commission of the designation.



89.08.490

Watershed restoration projectsAcceptance of applicationsPermit decisions.

All agencies of the state and local governments shall accept the single application developed under RCW 89.08.470. Unless the procedures under RCW 89.08.500 are invoked, the application shall be processed without charge and permit decisions shall be issued within forty-five days of receipt of a complete application.



89.08.500

Watershed restoration projectsAppointment of project facilitator by *permit assistance centerCoordinated process for permit decisions.

The applicant or any state agency, tribe, or local government with permit processing responsibility may request that the *permit assistance center created by chapter 347, Laws of 1995 appoint a project facilitator to develop in consultation with the applicant and permit agencies a coordinated process for permit decisions on the application. The process may incorporate procedures for coordinating state permits under chapter 347, Laws of 1995. The *center shall adopt a target of completing permit decisions within forty-five days of receipt of a complete application.
If **House Bill No. 1724 is not enacted by June 30, 1995, this section shall be null and void.

NOTES:

Reviser's note: *(1) The permit assistance center and its powers and duties were terminated effective June 30, 1999, pursuant to 1995 c 347 § 617.
**(2) House Bill No. 1724 [1995 c 347] was enacted.



89.08.510

Watershed restoration projectsGeneral permitsCooperative permitting agreements.

State agencies, tribes, and local governments responsible for permits or other approvals of watershed restoration projects as defined in RCW 89.08.460 may develop general permits or permits by rule to address some or all projects required by an approved watershed restoration plan, or for types of watershed restoration projects. Nothing in chapter 378, Laws of 1995 precludes local governments, state agencies, and tribes from working out other cooperative permitting agreements outside the procedures of chapter 378, Laws of 1995.



89.08.520

Water quality and habitat protection grant programsDevelopment of outcome-focused performance measures.

(1) In administering grant programs to improve water quality and protect habitat, the commission shall:
(a) Require grant recipients to incorporate the environmental benefits of the project into their grant applications;
(b) In its grant prioritization and selection process, consider:
(i) The statement of environmental benefits;
(ii) Whether, except as conditioned by RCW 89.08.580, the applicant is a Puget Sound partner, as defined in RCW 90.71.010, and except as otherwise provided in RCW 89.08.590, and effective one calendar year following the development and statewide availability of model evergreen community management plans and ordinances under RCW 35.105.050, whether the applicant is an entity that has been recognized, and what gradation of recognition was received, in the evergreen community recognition program created in RCW 35.105.030; and
(iii) Whether the project is referenced in the action agenda developed by the Puget Sound partnership under RCW 90.71.310; and
(c) Not provide funding, after January 1, 2010, for projects designed to address the restoration of Puget Sound that are in conflict with the action agenda developed by the Puget Sound partnership under RCW 90.71.310.
(2)(a) The commission shall also develop appropriate outcome-focused performance measures to be used both for management and performance assessment of the grant program.
(b) The commission shall work with the districts to develop uniform performance measures across participating districts and, to the extent possible, the commission should coordinate its performance measure system with other natural resource-related agencies as defined in RCW 43.41.270. The commission shall consult with affected interest groups in implementing this section.

NOTES:

Short title2008 c 299: See note following RCW 35.105.010.
Effective date2007 c 341: See RCW 90.71.907.
FindingsIntent2001 c 227: See note following RCW 43.41.270.



89.08.530

Agricultural conservation easements program.

(1) The agricultural conservation easements program is created. The state conservation commission shall manage the program and adopt rules as necessary to implement the legislature's intent.
(2) The commission shall report to the legislature on an ongoing basis regarding potential funding sources for the purchase of agricultural conservation easements under the program and recommend changes to existing funding authorized by the legislature.
(3) All funding for the program shall be deposited into the agricultural conservation easements account created in RCW 89.08.540. Expenditures from the account shall be made to local governments and private nonprofits on a match or no match required basis at the discretion of the commission. Moneys in the account may be used to purchase easements in perpetuity or to purchase or lease easements for a fixed term.
(4) Easements purchased with money from the agricultural conservation easements account run with the land.

NOTES:

Intent2002 c 280: "Among the rising costs that are increasingly driving Washington farmers out of business is the cost of land. Many of our oldest, well-established farms, often on the fringes of established communities, are under growing pressure to be sold for uses other than agriculture. In the face of these rising land costs, new farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to be able to afford to purchase farmland.
At the same time, the conversion of these prime farmlands to development costs our communities open and green space, reduces our access to local quality food, diminishes our cultural and historic roots, often represents a fiscal loss for governments, and frequently results in environmental costs including reduced flood detention, loss of surface water filtration, diminished aquifer recharge, loss of habitat and connective wildlife migration corridors, and loss of opportunities to protect riparian lands.
These concerns, among others, are leading the federal government and local jurisdictions around our state to provide funding for local programs to purchase agricultural conservation easements that help keep farmers in farming and farmland in agriculture. It is the intent of the legislature to create a Washington purchase of agricultural conservation easements program that will facilitate the use of federal funds, ease the burdens of local governments launching similar programs at the local level, and help local governments fight the conversion of agricultural lands they have not otherwise protected through their planning processes." [ 2002 c 280 § 1.]



89.08.540

Agricultural conservation easements account.

(1) The agricultural conservation easements account is created in the custody of the state treasurer. All receipts from legislative appropriations, other sources as directed by the legislature, and gifts, grants, or endowments from public or private sources must be deposited into the account. Expenditures from the account may be used only for the purchase of easements in perpetuity or for the purchase or lease of easements for a fixed term under the agricultural conservation easements program. Only the state conservation commission, or the executive director of the commission on the commission's behalf, may authorize expenditures from the account. The account is subject to allotment procedures under chapter 43.88 RCW, but an appropriation is not required for expenditures.
(2) The commission is authorized to receive and expend gifts, grants, or endowments from public or private sources that are made available, in trust or otherwise, for the use and benefit of the agricultural conservation easements program.

NOTES:

Intent2002 c 280: See note following RCW 89.08.530.



89.08.550

Conservation assistance revolving account.

(1) The conservation assistance revolving account is created in the custody of the state treasurer. Moneys from the account may only be spent after appropriation. Moneys placed in the account shall include principal and interest from the repayment of any loans granted under this section, and any other moneys appropriated to the account by the legislature. Expenditures from the account may be used only to make loans to landowners for projects enrolled in the conservation reserve enhancement program and the continuous conservation reserve program.
(2) In order to aid the financing of conservation reserve enhancement program projects and continuous conservation reserve program projects, the conservation commission, through the conservation districts, may make interest-free loans to these enrollees from the conservation assistance revolving account. The conservation commission may require such terms and conditions as it deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this section. Loans to landowners shall be for costs associated with the installation of conservation improvements eligible for and secured by federal farm service agency practice incentive payment reimbursement. Loans under this program promote critical habitat protection and restoration by bridging the financing gap between project implementation and federal funding. The conservation commission shall give loan preferences to those projects expected to generate the greatest environmental benefits and that occur in basins with critical or depressed salmonid stocks. Money received from landowners in loan repayments made under this section shall be paid into the conservation assistance revolving account for uses consistent with this section.

NOTES:

Severability2004 c 277: "If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected." [ 2004 c 277 § 919.]
Effective dates2004 c 277: "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately [April 1, 2004], except for sections 117 and 202 of this act, which take effect April 16, 2004." [ 2004 c 277 § 920.]



89.08.560

Farm plansDisclosure of information.

(1) Conservation districts, before developing a farm plan, shall inform the landowner or operator in writing of the types of information that is [are] subject to disclosure to the public under chapter 42.56 RCW. Before completion of the final draft of a farm plan, the district shall send the final draft farm plan to the requesting landowner or operator for verification of the information. The final farm plan shall not be disclosed by the conservation district until the requesting owner or operator confirms the information in the farm plan and a signed copy of the farm plan is received by the conservation district.
(2) For the purposes of this section and RCW 42.56.270, "farm plan" means a plan prepared by a conservation district in cooperation with a landowner or operator for the purpose of conserving, monitoring, or enhancing renewable natural resources. Farm plans include, but are not limited to, provisions pertaining to:
(a) Developing and prioritizing conservation objectives;
(b) Taking an inventory of soil, water, vegetation, livestock, and wildlife;
(c) Implementing conservation measures, including technical assistance provided by the district;
(d) Developing and implementing livestock nutrient management measures;
(e) Developing and implementing plans pursuant to business and financial objectives; and
(f) Recording, or records of, decisions.



89.08.570

Crop purchase contracts for dedicated energy crops.

In addition to any other authority provided by law, conservation districts are authorized to enter into crop purchase contracts for a dedicated energy crop for the purposes of producing, selling, and distributing biodiesel produced from Washington state feedstocks, cellulosic ethanol, and cellulosic ethanol blend fuels.

NOTES:

Findings2007 c 348: See RCW 43.325.005.



89.08.580

Puget Sound partners.

When administering water quality and habitat protection grants under this chapter, the commission shall give preference only to Puget Sound partners, as defined in RCW 90.71.010, in comparison to other entities that are eligible to be included in the definition of Puget Sound partner. Entities that are not eligible to be a Puget Sound partner due to geographic location, composition, exclusion from the scope of the Puget Sound action agenda developed by the Puget Sound partnership under RCW 90.71.310, or for any other reason, shall not be given less preferential treatment than Puget Sound partners.

NOTES:

Effective date2007 c 341: See RCW 90.71.907.



89.08.590

Administering fundsPreference to an evergreen community.

When administering funds under this chapter, the commission shall give preference only to an evergreen community recognized under RCW 35.105.030 in comparison to other entities that are eligible to receive evergreen community designation. Entities not eligible for designation as an evergreen community shall not be given less preferential treatment than an evergreen community.

NOTES:

Short title2008 c 299: See note following RCW 35.105.010.
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