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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive praises passage of market-based tool for protecting wetlands, boosting growth

Summary

Wetlands and other sensitive areas in King County will be preserved, while builders will have greater certainty when developing their projects, using a new approach to growth proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine and adopted Jan. 17 by the Metropolitan King County Council.

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Executive praises passage of market-based tool for protecting wetlands

County Council unanimously approves creating mitigation credit program that streamlines permitting for builders, preserves County's sensitive areas

Wetlands and other sensitive areas in King County will be preserved, while builders will have greater certainty when developing their projects, using a new approach to growth proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine and adopted Jan. 17 by the Metropolitan King County Council.

"This market-based tool is the first of its kind in the state, and will better protect our environment while providing options for the building industry," said Executive Constantine, who thanked the Council for its unanimous support of the innovative solution.

Under what's known as the "in-lieu fee mitigation program" - the first of its kind in the state - builders have the option to offset the impacts of their developments to certain streams and wetlands by paying a fee instead of doing individual mitigation projects.

By law, builders are required to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands and other aquatic-sensitive areas to the greatest extent practicable - and in the limited cases where unavoidable impacts are allowed to occur, builders are required to mitigate them.

Under the new rules, builders can voluntarily purchase "mitigation credits" to meet their obligations for wetland mitigation. The County in turn will use those payments to design, construct and maintain ecological restoration projects with the development's watershed.

With this proposed market-based tool, the Executive said the County can establish a framework through which the private sector can drive environmental protection through voluntary transactions.

"By pooling mitigation payments, King County can create larger restoration projects with greater benefits to the health of Puget Sound watersheds," said Executive Constantine. "Lands where projects occur will be permanently protected as open space, ensuring a legacy of a healthy environment for future generations."

The program, which is consistent with state rules, is among the first in the nation to operate in compliance with 2008 federal rules for where and how "in-lieu fee mitigation" occurs.

Under the program, the Washington State Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will co-chair a regulatory oversight committee to ensure the County meets its obligations.

Learn more about the mitigation credit program at www.kingcounty.gov/mitigation



King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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