NGPA/CAPA Management Planning

A simple management plan can be a tremendously helpful tool to help guide you and your community through the process of restoring the health and function of your Native Growth Protection Area (NGPA) or Critical Area Protection Area (CAPA). A plan can help clarify the goal(s) of your project, identify the steps necessary to reach these goals, and establish measurable outcomes. A simple and straightforward plan like this can greatly improve your ability to effectively manage your NGPA/CAPA, while allowing room for adaptability based on changing site conditions and unforeseen issues.  


Here are the simple steps for developing your plan:

Step 1: Gather Information About Your NGPA/CAPA 

Every NGPA/CAPA is different. It’s important to start with a clear understanding of the NGPA/CAPA, including identifying the owner(s), boundaries, restrictions, and other critical information. Consult the HOA, if your plat has one, for information and management guidelines regarding the NGPA/CAPA.

  • Find Your Plat Map
    • Locate all NGPAs/CAPAs
    • Find the list of restrictions and responsibilities related to your NGPA/CAPA
  • Create a Map: Create a simple map showing the relevant landscape features map using Snohomish County’s PDS Map Portal

Step 2Identify & Document Current Conditions

Before we can make a plan for achieving our goals for our NGPA/CAPA, it’s important to understand our starting point. Walk through your NGPA/CAPA and make note of the existing conditions, including any signs of healthy or unhealthy conditions. You may request a free site visit with a Watershed Steward to assist with this assessment, as well. 


Examples of what to look for include:

  • Native plants and their condition
  • Invasive plants communities (it can be helpful to add these to your map)
  • Evidence of diseased or dying vegetation or unauthorized removal of native vegetation
  • Illegal dumping of trash and yard waste
  • Encroachment of yards on the NGPA/CAPA boundaries
  • Human uses such as trails, bird watching or wildlife viewing activities, homeless encampments, etc. Note which are desirable and which need to be addressed.

Step 3: Gather Support From Your Community

Successful implementation of an NGPA/CAPA Management Plan hinges on effectively engaging your community in the shared stewardship of this natural area. Start with those living near the NGPA/CAPA. Include observations of long-term and recent residents who offer different perspectives on past conditions and future goals. Ask neighbors what concerns or goals they have related to the NGPA/CAPA.

  • Recruit support from your neighbors by organizing a neighborhood meeting so you can start developing a management plan for your NGPA/CAPA.
  • Share the information you have collected in Steps 1 & 2 with your neighbors to help them understand why you need their support and involvement.
  • Create a contact list of people who are interested in helping. Send updates and scheduled events to them regularly.
  • Organize a working group of interested neighbors to develop and implement a management plan.

Additionally, you can request a free site visit with your Watershed Steward to assist you and your community through this process. During the visit you can ask questions and discuss possible solutions to the symptoms you observed in Step 2. The Watershed Steward can examine the problem areas and support the development of a management plan tailored to the issues and within your NGPA/CAPA.


Step 4: Develop Your Management Plan

Once a working group has been established, collaboratively draft a mission statement, goals, and management plan to achieve those goals. 

  • Mission Statement: Agree on an overall mission statement that incorporates everyone’s interests and objectives. This will maintain focus, guide goal development, and help to prioritize efforts for your community.

  • Goals: Set both short- and long-term goals that will be the result of your cumulative efforts over the next few years. Your goals should be general enough to include a number of individual objectives for each. Examples of goals for your NGPA/CAPA might include:
    1. Improve the health of natural areas and promote clean water
    2. Encourage wildlife habitat 
    3. Reduce encroachment on the NGPA/CAPA perimeter
    4. Coordinate an annual Earth Day work party
  • Management Plan: Once your group has agreed on goals, begin to develop the NGPA/CAPA Management Plan to help guide the actions necessary to achieve those goals. The NGPA/CAPA Management Plan should address each goal with specific objectives for each, outlining steps you will need to take to accomplish those goals. With your group, prepare a draft plan. Your Watershed Steward will review the initial draft and assist you with completion of a final draft. 

The final NGPA/CAPA Management Plan needs to be endorsed by your Snohomish County Watershed Steward to ensure compliance with Snohomish County Critical Area Regulations, so be sure to hold off on implementing the plan until approval has been issued.


Example NGPA/CAPA Management Plan (PDF)

Step 5: Put the Plan into Action!

Once your NGPA/CAPA Management Plan is approved, it’s time to start taking action to implement the plan! Develop a timeline for each step, set a deadline for completion, and assign tasks. For example, if your management plan outlines steps to control an invasive weed, determine when each step will be implemented and then organize the necessary tools and people.


At any point in the process, you may reach out to your Watershed Steward with any questions that might arise as you move forward with the implementation of your plan.