Thurston County facilities are now open to the public with restrictions, including maintaining physical distancing of at least six feet at all times and, per the Washington State Secretary of Health’s face covering order wearing a cloth face covering or mask. If you come to county facilities, please be prepared for potentially long wait times or lines due to distancing guidelines. We continue to encourage residents to access county services online, by phone, by email, or through the use of drop boxes located outside of county buildings.
The availability of remote services vary by office and department.

Click here for office and department contact information
Click here for information on COVID-19

Critical Areas Ordinance

Critical Areas Ordinance Title 24

Thurston County critical area regulations are detailed in Title 24 of the County Code of Ordinances.

Last Critical Areas Code Update 2012

Why the County Regulates Critical Areas: State Law Requires Protections for Five Areas
Washington state law RCW 36.70-Growth Management Act (GMA) requires cities and counties to limit development in five critical areas, including:

  • Frequently flooded areas  Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Geologically hazardous areas (example: landslide zones)  Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Land that drains into drinking water aquifers (also called Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas)  Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Important fish and wildlife habitat areas  Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Wetlands  Fact Sheet (PDF)

The first critical areas ordinance was adopted by Thurston's Board of County Commissioners in 1994, in response to the Washington Legislature enacting the Growth Management Act (GMA) in 1990. A GMA update in 2003 required counties to review and update critical area regulations every seven years to align with any state and federal law changes.

County Code of Ordinances Title 24 Critical Areas
State RCW 36.70 Growth Management Act
State RCW 36.70A.10 GMA Update 2003