(information last updated January 2019)

Ongoing Projects:

Federal Project(s) Operating in the State:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is providing funding to the University of Washington “to deploy next-generation, low-cost particulate matter air sensors in student-directed studies pertaining to wood smoke impacts in their rural community.” Air Pollution Monitoring for Communities Grants, U.S. Envtl. Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/air-research/air-pollution-monitoring-communities-grants (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

State Project(s):

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife runs a volunteer freshwater mussel observation citizen science project. See Citizen Science Volunteer Opportunities, Wash. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife, https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/citizen_science.html (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

Collection of Information:

Scientific Collection Permits:

Only qualified individuals and institutions may acquire a scientific collection permit to collect fish or wildlife for research purposes. See Wash. Rev. Code § 77.32.240; Wash. Admin. Code 220-200-150; id. 220-450-030; Scientific Collection Permits, Wash. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife, https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/scp/ (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). 

Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No.  “A person who enters or remains upon unimproved and apparently unused land, which is neither fenced nor otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders, does so with license and privilege unless notice against trespass is personally communicated to him or her . . . or unless notice is given by posting in a conspicuous manner.” Wash Rev. Code § 9A.52.010.

Drone Laws:

Protection of Orca Whales:

Washington has no generally-applicable drone law.  A law making it illegal to cause “a vessel or other object to approach, in any manner, within two hundred yards of a southern resident orca whale,” Wash. Rev. Code § 77.15.740(1)(a), has been interpreted by the Washington Attorney General to include drones within the definition of “vessel.” Wash. Att’y Gen. Op. No. 8, 2016 WL 7627024 (Dec. 30, 2016).  The law exempts from this prohibition scientific research being conducted “pursuant to a permit or other authorization” from the National Marine Fisheries Service or the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. See Wash. Rev. Code § 77.15.740(4)(b).

Harassment of Wildlife:

“It is unlawful to use a vehicle, aircraft, unmanned aircraft, or motor-propelled boat for the purpose of pursuing, concentrating, or harassing any wild animal or wild bird, except as authorized by the department to aid in addressing wildlife conflict.” Wash. Admin. Code 220-413-070(3).

State Parks:

“Remote controlled aircraft may be flown in any state park area pursuant to written permission from the director or designee.” Wash. Admin. Code 352-32-130(5). A violation of this section, “including any failure to abide by a conspicuously posted remote controlled aircraft flying restriction or failure to abide by the terms of written permission to fly remote controlled aircraft, is an infraction under chapter 7.84 RCW.” Id. 352-32-130(6); see also Remote Controlled Aircraft Permit, Wash. State Parks, https://parks.state.wa.us/1080/Remote-Controlled-Aircraft (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law: 

“A person commits the crime of stalking if, without lawful authority and under circumstances not amounting to a felony attempt of another crime:

(a)  He or she intentionally and repeatedly harasses or repeatedly follows another person; and

(b)  The person being harassed or followed is placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure the person, another person, or property of the person or of another person.  The feeling of fear must be one that a reasonable person in the same situation would experience under all the circumstances; and

(c)  The stalker either:

(i) Intends to frighten, intimidate, or harass the person; or

(ii) Knows or reasonably should know that the person is afraid, intimidated, or harassed even if the stalker did not intend to place the person in fear or intimidate or harass the person.”  Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.46.110(1).

Civil Law:

“In addition to the criminal penalty provided in RCW 9A.36.080 for committing a crime of malicious harassment, the victim may bring a civil cause of action for malicious harassment against the harasser.  A person may be liable to the victim of malicious harassment for actual damages, punitive damages of up to ten thousand dollars, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in bringing the action.”  Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.36.083.

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, these provisions address the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Allows:

The Washington Department of Ecology has been directed to assemble and evaluate citizen-collected water quality information that “meets the state’s requirements for data quality.”  See Wash Rev. Code § 90.48.570(1)(b).

Prohibitive by Effect:

“[D]ata is considered credible data if…(a) Appropriate quality assurance and quality control procedures were followed and documented in collecting and analyzing water quality samples; . . . and

(d) Sampling and laboratory analysis conform to methods and protocols generally acceptable in the scientific community as appropriate for use in assessing the condition of water.”  Wash. Rev. Code § 90.48.585(1).

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires certification that the claim “is well grounded in fact.”  Wash. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 11.

Authentication or Chain of Custody:

“The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.”  Wash. R. Evid. 901(a).

Expert Testimony:

Frye standard.  See State v. Copeland, 922 P.2d 1304, 1312-15 (Wash. 1996) (en banc); State v. Riker, 869 P.2d 43, 47-48 (Wash. 1994) (en banc).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.