79.70.020  <<  79.70.030 >>   79.70.040

Powers of department.

In order to set aside, preserve, and protect natural areas within the state, the department is authorized, in addition to any other powers, to:
(1) Establish the criteria for selection, acquisition, management, protection, and use of such natural areas, including:
(a) Limiting public access to natural area preserves consistent with the purposes of this chapter. Where appropriate, and on a case-by-case basis, a buffer zone with an increased low level of public access may be created around the environmentally sensitive areas;
(b) Developing a management plan for each designated natural area preserve. The plan must identify the significant resources to be conserved consistent with the purposes of this chapter and identify the areas with potential for low-impact public and environmental educational uses. The plan must specify the types of management activities and public uses that are permitted, consistent with the purposes of this chapter. The department must make the plans available for review and comment by the public, and state, tribal, and local agencies, prior to final approval;
(2) Cooperate or contract with any federal, state, or local governmental agency, private organizations, or individuals in carrying out the purpose of this chapter;
(3) Consistent with the plan, acquire by gift, devise, purchase, grant, dedication, or means other than eminent domain, the fee or any lesser right or interest in real property which shall be held and managed as a natural area;
(4) Acquire by gift, devise, grant, or donation any personal property to be used in the acquisition and/or management of natural areas;
(5) Inventory existing public, state, and private lands in cooperation with the council to assess possible natural areas to be preserved within the state;
(6) Maintain a natural heritage program to provide assistance in the selection and nomination of areas containing natural heritage resources for registration or dedication. The program shall maintain a classification of natural heritage resources, an inventory of their locations, and a data bank for such information. The department shall cooperate with the department of fish and wildlife in the selection and nomination of areas from the data bank that relate to critical wildlife habitats. Information from the data bank shall be made available to public and private agencies and individuals for environmental assessment and proprietary land management purposes. Usage of the classification, inventory, or data bank of natural heritage resources for any purpose inconsistent with the natural heritage program is not authorized;
(7) Prepare a natural heritage plan which shall govern the natural heritage program in the conduct of activities to create and manage a system of natural areas that includes natural resources conservation areas, and may include areas designated under the research natural area program on federal lands in the state;
(a) The plan shall list the natural heritage resources to be considered for registration and shall provide criteria for the selection and approval of natural areas under this chapter;
(b) The department shall provide opportunities for input, comment, and review to the public, other public agencies, and private groups with special interests in natural heritage resources during preparation of the plan;
(c) Upon approval by the council and adoption by the department, the plan shall be updated and submitted biennially to the appropriate committees of the legislature for their information and review. The plan shall take effect ninety days after the adjournment of the legislative session in which it is submitted unless the reviewing committees suggest changes or reject the plan; and
(8) Maintain a state register of natural areas containing significant natural heritage resources to be called the Washington register of natural area preserves. Selection of natural areas for registration shall be in accordance with criteria listed in the natural heritage plan and accomplished through voluntary agreement between the owner of the natural area and the department. No privately owned lands may be proposed to the council for registration without prior notice to the owner or registered without voluntary consent of the owner. No state or local governmental agency may require such consent as a condition of any permit or approval of or settlement of any civil or criminal proceeding or to penalize any landowner in any way for failure to give, or for withdrawal of, such consent.
(a) The department shall adopt rules as authorized by RCW 43.12.065 and 79.70.030(1) and chapter 34.05 RCW relating to voluntary natural area registration.
(b) After approval by the council, the department may place sites onto the register or remove sites from the register.
(c) The responsibility for management of registered natural area preserves shall be with the preserve owner. A voluntary management agreement may be developed between the department and the owners of the sites on the register.
(d) Any public agency may register lands under provisions of this chapter.


Intent2003 c 334: See note following RCW 79.02.010.
Site Contents
Selected content listed in alphabetical order under each group