Thurston County facilities are now open to the public with restrictions, including maintaining physical distancing of at least six feet at all times and, per the Washington State Secretary of Health’s face covering order wearing a cloth face covering or mask. If you come to county facilities, please be prepared for potentially long wait times or lines due to distancing guidelines. We continue to encourage residents to access county services online, by phone, by email, or through the use of drop boxes located outside of county buildings.
The availability of remote services vary by office and department.

Click here for office and department contact information
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Prairie Plant Inspection
Building permit applications for projects on prairie soils get on-site visits as part of the County's Critial Areas Ordinance (CAO). For 2020, the County is conducting "No-Contact" Inspections for your safety and ours. Find details in the "Gopher & Prairie Plant Inspection" info sheet (PDF). 


Basic review process 
  • On-site visits take place mid-April through mid-September, depending on weather (applications are accepted and prescreened year-round). 
  • Properites are visited one or two times, depending on site conditions.
  • Do not mow in the two-four weeks prior to inspection. Mowing may lead to reinspection, which could cause delays in processing your application.
  • An inspector walks the entire property looking for prairie plants listed in the CAO (linked above).
  • After the site visit, the project status is updated in the online permit status lookup, and the project case manager is notified. 
General prairie criteria
  • 3 or more CAO-listed prairie plants close together (about 16 feet). Or
  • 25 individual CAO listed plants or species on the project site. Or
  • Presence of plants that provide food or shelter for the Taylors checkerspot butterfly (a federally endangered species) or other protected butterfly species. Or
  • Presence of rare plants classified as such by Washington's Natural Heritage Program.
If prairie plants are found 
Some applicants modified their plans a bit to avoid mitigation requirements. Others applied for a Reasonable Use Exception. Others worked with prairie plant biologists to create a mitigation plan to replace prairie plants onsite that will be lost to the building project. Staff can discuss the options with you. All applications are processed in accordance with the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance.