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Snohomish County’s Critical Areas Regulations are designed to protect the many functions, values, and benefits provided by critical areas and their buffers. Critical areas protected by these regulations include:
NGPA/CAPA designations, which are established when properties on or near critical areas or their buffers are developed, are an important tool for ensuring the protection of these benefits. Healthy and mature vegetation in and around these areas provides important wildlife habitat and plays a natural and critical role in managing the potentially harmful effects of stormwater runoff. Benefits provided by NGPAs/CAPAs include:
NGPA/CAPAs are recorded on either a Critical Area Site Plan (CASP) or a Plat Map. A CASP is recorded when development is proposed on individual parcels, while a Plat Map is recorded when the proposed development is a larger community or neighborhood.
Both CASPs and Plat Maps will record the size and location of an NGPA/CAPA. These documents can be found on the Snohomish County Auditor’s online database.
It is important to note that just because there is no recorded NGPA/CAPA designated on a property that does not necessarily mean that there are no critical areas on or near the property or neighborhood.
The landowner(s) of the NGPA/CAPA hold the responsibility for protecting, preserving, and maintaining these areas. While these areas are protected through the process of permitting development through the County, they are not owned by, or the responsibility of, the County.
In many cases, NGPA/CAPAs are part of a neighborhood development and it is the responsibility of the neighborhood homeowners or Homeowners Association (HOA) to manage and protect it. However, these protections can also be found on single lot residences, in which case they are the responsibility of the individual lot owner.
However, the County does provide resources to help communities or individual lot owners to manage their NGPA/CAPAs! If you are interested in improving the health of your NGPA/CAPA, request a free site visit with a Watershed Steward!
While the County does not supply NGPA/CAPA signs, you can work with a local sign shop to produce new or replacement signs for your NGPA/CAPA. Below are several files to assist with this, including sign specifications, installation guidelines, and artwork files that a sign shop can use to produce new signs.
All of the files below use the term ‘Critical Area Protection Area’ rather than ‘Native Growth Protection Area,’ as this is the current terminology. Replacement signs for areas previously designated as NGPA may use the updated CAPA designation.