County asks for cooperation in developing "Best Available Science"

San Juan County Community Development and Planning Department mailed letters to 944 county residents last week asking permission to include their property in a wetland study that will help provide local data for the "Best Available Science" used in preparing the update to the county's Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO).

The information gathered will be incorporated into a study that is part of a county project to insure the scientific research referenced in updating the CAO takes the Ccunty's unique topography, geology and environment into account. The requests, sent to the owners of land parcels selected by wetlands specialist Dr. Paul Adamus of Oregon, ask for their permission to access the property to document and map possible wetland features.

The county Council asked for additional work to be done on the scientific aspect of the update after some citizens groups protested that development buffers and other possible regulations were based on research not applicable to San Juan County.

In April Dr. Adamus, who guided the development of wetlands regulations based on local science for Island County's CAO, was contracted to do similar work for San Juan County.

Using aerial photos, LIDAR data and existing wetland information, he chose locations.

The additional work to find science citizens believe is applicable to San Juan County is expected to cost at least $100,000.

A representative number of parcels to study will be selected from those whose owners agree to participate. The surveys and mapping work will be done between June 15 and September 30, 2010.

CDP Coordinator Shireene Hale told the council she expected to receive enough positive responses to be able to complete the study.

Information about the process of updating the County's Critical Areas Ordinance is available on the Community Development and Planning Department Web site.

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