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J.E. “Sam” Ryan, CBO

5280 Northwest Drive
Bellingham, Washington 98226
Telephone: (360) 676-6907

Natural Resources

One of the greatest assets of Whatcom County is its bounty of natural resources. The forests, lakes, rivers and streams, wetlands, marine shorelines, and wildlife prevalent throughout the county play a large role in making this one of the most desirable places to live in the country.  As your Natural Resources Division staff, we take great pride in caring for these resources, both in the present and into the future. The Natural Resources Division is comprised of two sections—the Environmental Permitting section and the Long Range Natural Resources section.

To get more information on the Natural Resource Division programs click on the links in the left hand column.
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The Environmental Permitting team is tasked with reviewing a variety of land use and development permit applications for compliance with Whatcom County codes and development standards.  There are three teams in the Environmental Permitting Section: 

  • The shoreline technical administrators review permit applications for compliance with the Shoreline Management Program (Whatcom County Code Title 23). 
  • Critical Areas technical administrators review permit applications for compliance with the Critical Areas Ordinance (Whatcom County Code Title 16.16). 
  • The Watersheds technical administrators review permit applications within regulated watersheds for compliance with clearing, impervious surfaces, and tree canopy retention  (Whatcom County Code Title 20).

xThe Long Range Natural Resources team works with multiple agencies, jurisdictions, and the public to gather and present information that can be used for the development of plans and programs as well as update existing regulations that relate to natural resource management.  It is these plans, programs, and regulations that provide the basis upon which natural resources are managed for sustainability into the future. For information on the agricultural program, please follow this link to the Long Range Planning website.