Comment to Planners: Riparian Management Zones

Kitsap County hired a group of experts to report back to them on best available science to then shape their update to the Critical Areas Ordinances to be done this year.

In contrast to current stream buffers in the prior CAO, the science calls for a broader perspective on what riparian management zones can do to protect streams, the salmon that rely upon them and other wildlife that use these corridors. These benefits include:

  • The recruitment of woody debris that helps shape flow velocities resulting in healthier aquatic habitats.
  • Shade & Microclimate necessary for salmon who need cool waters between 55 and 68 degrees.
  • Bank integrity – these riparian zones stabilize the banks.
  • Runoff filtration – by adhering to minimum suggested 100-foot buffers they remove pollution through filtration, reduction of sediment and keep excess nutrients out as well as toxic metals, herbicides, and pesticides.

The suggested guideline of using the Site Potential Tree Height is a wise way to proceed to protect the natural environment we rely upon.  We can look to the City of Anacortes as they have embraced this alternative to stream buffers while Clark County to our South has implemented a hybrid of riparian management zones and standard stream buffers.

Doug, Kitsap County