205 W 5th Ave
Ellensburg, WA 98926-2887
Monday - Friday
8 AM - 5 PM
Kittitas (pronounced 'KITT-i-tass') County is located in central Washington
State. It spans from the lush forested Cascade Mountains to the upper Yakima River Valley plains and
the Columbia River.
Critical Areas are identified in the Growth Management Act (GMA) as:
The GMA requires counties to have regulations in place to protect these areas.
Protecting critical areas helps preserve the natural resources that make Kittitas County a healthy place
to live. Critical areas include aquifers that supply drinking water, streams that support fish populations,
wildlife habitat that fosters a diversity of living organisms, and an ecosystem that supports our community.
Critical areas also support resource industries that contribute to our local economy. Protection of
Critical area also safeguards people from physical and financial harm caused by natural disasters, such
as floods, earthquakes, and mudslides.
Updating our Critical Areas Ordinance is a requirement of the Growth Management Act (GMA). The goal
is to protect the most sensitive areas of the environment from impacts of future development, while
balancing that protection with other county regulations and property rights. Functions and values provided
by Critical Areas include water quality protection and enhancement; food chain support; fish and wildlife
habitat; flood storage, conveyance, and attenuation; ground water recharge and discharge; erosion control;
protection from natural hazards; and recreation.
Best Available Science (BAS) means current scientific information derived from research, monitoring,
inventory, survey, modeling, assessment, synthesis, and expert opinion that is logical and reasonable.
BAS is based on quantitative analysis and is reviewed by experts to be used in establishing Critical
No. The U.S. Constitution allows state and local governments to limit private property activities provided
it's for a legitimate public benefit and they do not deprive the landowner of all reasonable use of
the property. In most cases, buffers do not deprive landowners of all reasonable use of their property.
In those limited instances where the buffer precludes or significantly interferes with a reasonable
use, the property owner may obtain a variance.
No. The updated Critical Areas Ordinance will only apply to development occurring after adoption. There
are no retroactive Critical Area requirements.
Kittitas County welcomes early and continuous public participation in the Critical Areas Ordinance update
process. Throughout the process there will be opportunities to engage in review and discussion of the
CAO update. Consider attending a meeting or submitting
Kittitas County hopes to update the Critical Areas Ordinance by October of 2021.
Kittitas County has a total area of 2,333 square miles. The highest point in the county is Mount Daniel at 7,959 feet above sea level.