Saturday, September 1, 2012

Countdown To CAOmageddon: Flaw #30 - Missing Functions

The Ecosystem Services Model that was the outcome of the UN Millennium Assessment used a categorical list of functions based de Groot et al. 2002.  The four categories of functions are:
1. Regulating services
    (de Groot called these "Regulatory functions")
2. Provisioning services
    (de Groot called these "Production functions")
3. Supporting services
    (de Groot called these "Habitat functions")
4. Cultural services
    (de Groot called these "Information functions")
The attached pages (shown below) provide an expanded list of specific functions in each functional category along with the goods and services provided to mankind by these functions. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list, only a representative list. One thing is apparent, however: our County never explicitly covered anything like this, and there was no public participation about any list of specific ecosystem functions or the goods and services they might provide to us.

The purpose of protecting critical areas, as stated in the WAC 365-190-020 is:
Some are critical because of the hazard they present to public health and safety, some because of the values they represent to the public welfare.
Then WAC 365-190-030 goes on to suggest that geologically hazardous areas and frequently flooded areas represent hazards to be avoided, while the remaining critical areas provide functions to be valued.

RCW 36.70A.172 says that best available science shall be included in the regulations to protect functions and values.

It is a requirement of the law that we protect the functions and values that ecosystems provide to us. How could we have included BAS in the regulations to protect functions and values when we never identified the list of functions purportedly being considered for protection? How can a non-defined list of functions then be valued? We haven't done any valuation of ecosystem functions.

We are to protect the functions and values, not necessarily the structure, of ecosystems. We've spent a lot of time focused on ecosystem structure. For example, we have maps of possible ecosystem structure (e.g., possible wetlands, habitat areas, etc.), but those are not maps of functions.

I don't know how functions and values could be protected if we never talked about them and never performed a valuation.


  1. An systematic analysis of these functional categories will begin to show the policy priorities taken by the County, driven by shadowed special interest groups outside of public view and participation. And it will become increasingly possible to see more specifically how the groundwork for this agenda was laid, largely through 2005-2006 as the Puget Sound Partnership came into formation along with the enormous funds fueling projects designed to influence local land use decision-making. Really, its just a bar chart. All the numbers are there to look at. At the end of the day they can't hide. They are not trying to hide. Their goal is to enact this bloated regulatory nightmare that they can later on defined to mean what ever they want it to mean, because the proposed law at this stage is based on no clear definition of anything.

  2. My compliments.
    Title 16 of Whatcom County code, the critical area ordinance, is scheduled for review before 2016.
    Your posts on this blog will form the basis for the scoping, to begin, for this review, in which I, as a planning commissioner should be selected to participate.

    Thank you very much.

    It would be a service to property owners if we could correct mistakes of the past and craft an ordinance based on science.

    Politics (Futurewise) will intrude, of course.

    What's needed is ECK as CA czar.