Critical Areas are defined by their character and value. These areas often require special regulatory attention in order to protect their intrinsic environmental value and provide for the public health and safety. Consistent with the State Growth Management Act, five broad types of critical areas are recognized by the City of Woodinville:
- Geologically Hazardous Areas: Lands that may be susceptible to erosion, sliding, earthquakes, and other geological events. As a result, these areas are not suitable for structural development because of life concerns.
- Wetlands: Lands frequently inundated or saturated by surface and/or groundwater and often support vegetation that naturally is adapted to semi-aquatic soils. Wetlands come in a variety of types such as forested swamps, open marshes, peat bogs, or a mixture of other such conditions.
- Frequently Flooded Areas: Lands within a floodplain that are highly susceptible to flooding. Frequently flooded areas are defined as having a one percent change or greater in any given year of having a significant flood event. This is known as the 100-Year Flood. Flooding can come from a variety of sources, including: streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
- Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas: Lands and streams critically important to maintaining specific types of fish, wildlife, and plant species. The HCAs help prevent isolation, fragmentation, and degradation of habitat and species populations by protecting the natural ecosystems. Many of these areas serve as migratory and unique habitat for bird nesting, fish spawning, and other wildlife activity. HCAs commonly provide refuge for endangered and threatened species.
- Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas: Aquifer sources used for drinking water that is both highly susceptible and vulnerable to contamination. The contamination of these aquifers are particularly susceptible in the area around the water extraction point and through permeable soils, permeable surficial geology, and groundwater close to the ground surface throughout the aquifer.