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Abstract

Wetlands protection has long been an important issue in the central Puget Sound. With the passage of the Growth Management Act (GMA), all counties and cities within the state are now required to adopt regulations "protecting" critical areas, including wetlands. This requirement furthers the GMA's environmental goal to "[p]rotect the environment and enhance the state's high quality of life, including air and water quality, and the availability of water." This Article will explore these and related issues arising under the wetlands regulatory scheme in Washington following the adoption of the GMA. It will show how this complex, multi-layered regulation scheme is sometimes duplicative and inconsistent and, ironically, may not always result in the most effective protection of wetlands. Accordingly, Section II will discuss the GMA's requirements regarding wetland regulations. Section III will address the Department of Ecology (DOE) Model Wetlands Protection Ordinance (Model Ordinance) and the problems the Model Ordinance presents for wetlands regulation under the GMA. And finally, Section IV will suggest a framework for local governments to consider in reevaluating their wetlands regulations for consistency with their comprehensive plans.