What are Critical Areas?

Fish & Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas

Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas are lands and waters that provide habitat to fish and wildlife species within their natural geographic distribution. These include:

  • areas where fish and wildlife species that the state has designated as endangered, threatened, or sensitive have a primary association,
  • habitats and species of local importance.
  • lakes, rivers, streams categorized within water type 1-5 (Water Type Categorization found in WAC 222-16-030, Forest Practices Rules an Regulations)
  • naturally occurring ponds under 20 acres and their associated aquatic beds.



Wetlands are areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or ground water and support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas. Many areas in Stevens County are seasonally wet or are previously drained, farmable wetlands. The actual existence of wetlands must be determined on the ground on a site-by-site basis.


Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas

Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas are areas with a critical recharging effect on aquifers use for potable water, or areas where an aquifer that is a source of drinking water is vulnerable to contamination that would affect the potability of water. There is one Critical Aquifer Recharge Area encompassing roughly 81 square miles in the southeastern portion of Stevens County.


Geologically Hazardous Areas

Geologically Hazardous Areas are areas that are susceptible to erosion, sliding, earthquake, or other geological events. In Stevens County, these include areas with “severe rill” and “inter-rill” erosion hazard, and areas with a 30% or greater slope. NRCS Erosion and Landslide Hazard maps are used for broad identification of geologically hazardous areas.


Frequently Flooded Areas

Frequently Flooded Areas are flood ways and associated floodplains that have a one percent (1%) or greater chance of flooding in any given year. Frequently Flooded Areas are identified based on FEMA Flood Rate Insurance Maps. Most of the Frequently Flooded Areas in Stevens County are found in WRIA 59, and have a high degree of overlap with agricultural activities in the Colville river valley.