Wetland rating systems

Rating systems are designed to help agencies make decisions about standards for protecting wetlands, including buffers. There are two wetland rating systems, one for the west side of the state and one for east of the Cascade Range.


Washington's wetlands vary widely in their functions and values. Some types are common while others are rare. Some are heavily disturbed while others are still relatively undisturbed. All, however, provide some wetland functions and resources that are valued. These may be ecological, economic, recreational, or aesthetic.

To protect individual wetlands effectively, managers, planners, and citizens need tools to understand the resource value each wetland provides. The rating systems were designed to differentiate between wetlands based on:

  • Sensitivity to disturbance
  • Rarity
  • Our ability to replace them
  • Functions they provide
The rating systems group wetlands into four categories.

2014 updates Uses and limitations