Submit Permit Applications by Aug. 3 for Gopher Reviews This Season
Permit applications submitted after Aug. 3 may need gopher review extended to 2016 season
Thurston County is encouraging builders and developers to submit their building and development permit applications by Monday, August 3. Applications submitted after August 3 may not be able to get the maximum number of gopher review site visits completed before the 2015 gopher review window closes in October, which could potentially extend their gopher review into the 2016 season.
In early June, Thurston County began using a gopher review process that was recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in response to the Mazama pocket gopher being added to the Endangered Species List in April 2014. Because of that endangered species listing, the county now needs a special permit known as a "take" permit from the federal government before directly issuing county permits for activities that impact gophers.
The new gopher-review portion of the building permit review process includes two or three on-property site visits that can only be conducted between June 1 and October 30. In order to schedule staff accordingly and complete all required site visits before the end of October this year, the county is asking for applications to be submitted by Monday, August 3.
This new gopher review process—with up to three site visits—is an interim process the county and the USFWS are using while a permanent process is developed. The county is working to get a "take" permit that will cover all of unincorporated Thurston County by writing an area-wide Habitat Conservation Plan. Until then, the county uses USFWS guidance for permit review in order to limit federal liability for the county and for those who receive county building permits.
You can find more details about the county's habitat conservation plan and the 2015 gopher review process at www.ThurstonPlanning.org
. To speak to a Thurston County planner about the process, please contact Andrew Deffobis at DeffobA@co.thurston.wa.us
or (360) 786-5467.-30-