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Thurston County, Washington

Community Planning and Economic Development

FAQs about the County's HCP & Federal Permit

No. Mitigation is proportional to project impact. Unless your entire parcel or property is impacted by development, you will not have to pay a mitigation fee on the entire property. You are required to plan your project and site placement using HCP Best Management Practices (PDF) to avoid or reduce impacts. Reducing impacts will also reduce mitigation costs.

The cost of mitigation depends on you. The first step is to try to avoid the protected habitat.  If you cannot avoid, the next step is to minimize the impacted area of your development.  Once you know how much total area your development will be impacting then you can use the calculation worksheet to come up with the estimated habitat conservation fee for your project. 

An HCP is a large-scale mitigation plan detailing how the County will offset habitat lost to development it permits. It is the legal way to develop property in compliance with federal endangered species laws. It is also a required part of the County's application for a federal Incidental Take Permit (ITP). If the County gets a federal permit, then in most cases, its permit applicants won't have to. 

After the federal regulatory agency US Fish & Wildlife Service added the Mazama pocket gopher, Oregon spotted frog and other local animals to the federal Endangered Species list, County permit applicants with federally-protected habitats on their properties had to get federal permits in addition to County permits in order to build - often a long and costly process. So the County developed an umbrella HCP to cover its permit applicants who need one. Read about the federal listing of the Mazama pocket gopher.


The HCP will include a process to allow applicants to demonstrate they don’t have gopher habitat on-site. Read more in the draft HCP Appendix K.

No. It's voluntary. Permit applicants can work directly with USFWS to develop their own HCP and apply for federal permits.  

No. Just the opposite. If your property has habitat for one of the covered species, an HCP is the legal path to develop your land in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.  

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approves the County HCP. 

Thurston County will oversee the HCP implementation.


All permit applicants who would otherwise have to work directly with the federal regulatory agency, US Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the Endangered Species Act (ESA). With federal approval of the HCP, the County will be able to permit projects regulated by the federal ESA laws.