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Critical Areas
Environmental critical areas are landscape features that are protected because they provide unique environmental functions that are important to preserving Issaquah’s natural resources and maintaining our high quality of life. Environmental critical areas can also pose hazards to public health and safety. Therefore, the City of Issaquah includes regulations and standards for development in environmental critical areas. The City is committed to preserving our unique environment, while encouraging sensitive, quality development.

What are Environmental Critical Areas?
  • Geologic hazard areas including:
    • Steep slope hazard areas
    • Landslide hazard areas
    • Coal mine hazard areas
    • Erosion hazard areas
    • Seismic hazard areas
  • Flood hazard areas
  • Wetlands
  • Stream and riparian areas
  • Lakes and shorelines
  • Critical aquifer recharge areas

Which areas require development setbacks or buffers?
 To protect environmental functions and public safety, the following areas require setbacks or buffers: 
  • Steep slope hazard areas
  • Wetlands
  • Streams
  • Flood hazard areas

It is very important to identify these environmentally-critical areas early in the process of designing your project. The earlier you identify these site conditions and the more accurately you document them in permit applications, the faster and potentially cheaper your permitting process will be. 

Do I have Environmental Critical Areas on my property?
The Development Service Department has maps that can assist in identifying the general extent or presence of environmental critical areas. The maps provide a good indication of whether you will need additional information or documentation for your permit application.

Environmental professionals are frequently needed to provide site-specific information for permit applications; more accurately identify the boundaries and classify environmental critical areas; as well as provide early assistance on locating development to avoid impacting natural resources and hazards.

Development Services Department staff are also available to provide guidance and explain code standards and legal protections, after critical areas are identified.

If your proposed project will have possible impacts on environmentally-critical areas, the City requires that your documentation is prepared by a qualified professional.