Critical Areas Ordinance

The Growth Management Act (GMA) requires all cities to adopt development regulations that protect critical areas. These regulations help to preserve the natural environment, maintain fish and wildlife habitat, and protect drinking water. Protecting critical areas also helps reduce exposure to risks, such as landslides or flooding, and maintains the natural elements of our landscape. All critical areas must be designated and their functions and values protected using the best available scientific information – known as best available science or BAS.

The GMA defines five types of critical areas:

  • Areas with a critical recharging effect on aquifers used for potable water
  • Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, including streams
  • Frequently flooded areas
  • Geologically hazardous areas
  • Wetlands

The City of Bainbridge Island regulates these five types of critical areas in its municipal code (BIMC 16.20).

Streams, geologically hazardous areas, and wetlands are mapped on the City’s GIS portal.

Important Information about Tree and Vegetation Activities

BIMC 16.20.090.F requires arborists, foresters and contractors or others involved in tree or vegetation operations in critical areas to sign and submit a “Statement of Tree and Vegetation Standards and Requirements Acknowledgment” to the City. This statement shall attest such professional’s knowledge of the city of Bainbridge Island’s tree and vegetation protection requirements. If tree and vegetation activities (e.g., pruning, tree removal) require critical area permitting, the person performing the work must have a signed “Statement of Tree and Vegetation Standards and Requirements Acknowledgment” form on file with the City. Persons performing work without having submitted the form – and the property owners for whom they are performing the work – may be subject to the enforcement provisions of the critical areas ordinance (BIMC 16.20.170).

Statement of Tree and Vegetation Standards and Requirements Acknowledgment Form

Tree and Vegetation Service Providers Who Have Submitted Form

Resource Sheets

If you have questions please contact the Department of Planning and Community Development at or 206.780.3750.