Critical Areas

Critical Areas are classified as:

  • Wetlands
  • Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas
  • Geologically hazardous areas
  • Critical aquifer recharge areas


Wetland areas mean areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas. Wetlands do not include those artificial wetlands intentionally created from non-wetland sites, including, but not limited to, irrigation and drainage ditches, grass-lined swales, canals, detention facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, farm ponds, and landscape amenities, or those wetlands created after July 1, 1990, that were unintentionally created as a result of the construction of a road, street, or highway. Wetlands may include those artificial wetlands intentionally created from non-wetland areas created to mitigate the conversion of wetlands. There are four wetland categories that is based on the Washington State Wetland Rating System for Eastern Washington.

Fish & Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas

Priority habitats within Spokane Valley are illustrated in the Comprehensive Plan, as it may be amended from time to time, and include wetlands, riparian, urban open space, and the habitat of native species. The status of individual species is included in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Management Recommendations for Priority Species and in Chapter 232-12 WAC.

Geologically Hazardous Areas

Geologically hazardous areas include both erosion and landslide hazard areas where one or more of the following exist:

  •  A slope of 30 percent or greater
  • Soils identified by the Natural Resource Conservation Service as having a severe potential for erosion
  • Hydraulic factors such as existing on-site surface and groundwater or changes in hydraulic factors, caused by proposals that create a severe potential for erosion or landslide hazard
  • Areas that historically have been prone to landslide, areas adjacent to lakes, streams, springs, or any one of the following geologic formations: alluvium, landslide deposit, or Latah formation
  • Areas of uncompacted fill
  • Areas that are unstable as a result of rapid stream or stream bank erosion

Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas

Classification of Aquifer Susceptibility. Critical aquifer recharge areas have prevailing geologic conditions associated with infiltration rates that create a high potential for contamination of groundwater resources or contribute significantly to the replenishment of groundwater.

You can find the requirements in the City’s Municipal Code Section 21.40.

Contact Us

Please email the Planning Counter or call 509-720-5240 for more information. We are available Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.