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In almost all cases, clearing or removal of vegetation (trees, shrubs, etc.) is prohibited in an NGPA/CAPA without a permit issued by Planning and Development Services (PDS). These areas, and the vegetation within them, are protected to ensure that the natural functions and values of the critical areas and buffers on-site are protected.
However, there are key exceptions in County Code that do allow for vegetation removal and/or control in certain cases, including:
Hazardous trees that meet the definition established in Snohomish County Code 30.91H.040 do not require a permit to remove even if they are located within a critical area or NGPA/CAPA. This definition establishes a hazardous tree as one with significant damage, decay, or death with the potential to impact public safety or property. County Code also states that conversion to habitat trees is preferred to removal, however, in residential areas that is not always a viable option. Removed trees should also be replaced at a 3:1 ratio with native species, as feasible.
To determine if a tree meets this definition an assessment should be performed by a qualified Arborist with a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification who can choose to write and submit a report to Monica Szarvas (email@example.com), Biologist and Arborist with Snohomish County Planning & Development Services (PDS). Alternatively, residents can send photos directly to Monica, who may be able to assess electronically and provide approval.
Any non-hazard tree clearing within a critical area or clearing of 7,000 or more square feet requires a Land Disturbing Activity (LDA) Permit. Additionally, the removal of 5,000 or more board feet may require a Forest Practice Permit.
In many cases, building a fence through an NGPA/CAPA will require a permit due to the impacts of construction. However, these requests are evaluated case by case, so you should contact Planning and Development Services (PDS) to check if your specific proposal would require a permit. You can contact PDS through any of the following: