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Best Available Science
A 1995 amendment to the state Growth Management Act requires counties and cities to apply “Best Available Science” when developing critical areas regulations. Local governments must gather and evaluate available scientific information, and determine which information constitutes Best Available Science. While local governments may accept or solicit scientific information from state and federal agencies, universities, tribes, and other experts, it’s ultimately the burden of local governments to determine whether the information they have gathered constitutes the Best Available Science.
The state’s Critical Areas Assistance Handbook, 11/2003 states:
“While science is not the sole criterion to be used in developing critical areas regulations, …science plays a central role in delineating critical areas, identifying their functions and values, and recommending strategies to protect the functions and values. Local governments must substantively consider the best available science when adopting regulations to designate or protect critical areas.”
Local governments that choose regulatory approaches that are not supported by Best Available Science must demonstrate how they considered the science and why local circumstances prompted them to use a different approach. Local governments must also document their sources, as shown on this web page.
Best Available Science and Information List
Click here to view the best available science and information list developed for the Critical Areas Ordinance update.
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