Habitat Conservation Plan Online Open House

March 29, 2022

Thurston County’s Habitat Conservation Plan Online Open House can be viewed through April 6, 2022

  • Comment in person at the Thurston County Planning Commission online public hearing on Wednesday, April 6, at 7:00 p.m.

The HCP is the County’s response to the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of several animals in Thurston County. The ESA requires building permit applicants to get federal permits in addition to County permits if their project impacts listed species.

If approved, the HCP is how the county government will locally manage HCP-species-related permitting and conservation so county applicants won’t need federal permits.

To view the HCP Online Open House and learn more about the HCP and the development regulation visit ThurstonHCP.org.

Habitat Conservation Plan Streamlines the Permitting Process

December 9, 2021

Thurston County’s Habitat Conservation Plan to streamline building permit process for applicants with gophers or other HCP species

If the County’s HCP is approved by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, getting a building permit will be simpler for applicants with projects that impacts gophers or other HCP species.

Currently, applicants on mapped gopher soils go through a series of gopher inspections that run only from June through October. If gophers are found, the applicant needs a federal permit before breaking ground. Getting a federal permit is a long and costly process.

Basic HCP Permit Process (Not yet approved)

  1. Applicant checks the HCP soils map before applying. Projects on mapped HCP soils will use the HCP permit process.
  2. All-year round, the County will visit all project properties to make sure County HCP maps match real-world conditions. 
  3. County staff checks submitted site plans for use of the required HCP Best Management Practices. If BMP’s are not used to the fullest extent possible, plan revisions will be requested.
  4. County staff calculates HCP mitigation fees based on final submitted site plan and project materials. Applicants can estimate fees anytime using the gopher form or the frog form.
  5. Permitted projects will get a Certification of Inclusion to show coverage by the County’s HCP & Federal Permit. 
  6. Other County permit application processes and regulations apply. The HCP review process will happen at the same time as other required reviews.

IMPORTANT: The HCP is not yet approved, and does not yet apply. The steps above are for planning and information purposes only.

Learn more on the HCP permitting page.

Final Environmental Impact Statement Coming in January

The Environmental Impact Statement looks at how the HCP could affect air quality, water supply, land use, recreation, transportation, utilities, noise, and other resources.

Feedback from the draft EIS comment period is being incorporated into the Final EIS and will be ready for Thurston County review in mid-December. The final EIS will be published in January.

Copies of the draft EIS and proposed HCP can be found on the county’s website at ThurstonHCP.org on the “Documents” page.

HCP Draft Environmental Impact Statement Comment Period

November 10, 2021

The County received about a dozen comments

The required 45-day public comment period for the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the County’s Habitat Conservation Plan closed on November 8, 2021. In that time, the County received about a dozen comments from the public.

The draft EIS looks at how the HCP could affect air quality, water supply, land use, recreation, transportation, utilities, noise, and other resources.

The County and federal regulators at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service jointly prepared and released the DEIS.

Government agencies, Tribes and members of the public were invited to review the draft EIS report and submit comments for the County to consider in the final plan. Thurston County and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff hosted two public, online meetings for community members to learn about the HCP and the draft EIS.

Final EIS Due December, 2021

Thurston County staff will respond to the submitted comments and review for the applicability to the HCP. Suggestions will be carefully considered for inclusion in the final EIS and the HCP. The final EIS will be completed later this year or early next year. Early to mid next year, the Board of County Commissioners will vote on whether or not to adopt the HCP through an implementing ordinance.

Copies of the draft EIS and proposed HCP can be found on the county’s website at ThurstonHCP.org on the “Documents” page.