Deadline to submit applications requiring on-site gopher reviews ends September 14 at 4pm
OLYMPIA – Citizens submitting a building application requiring the on-site gopher review process must submit their application by 4:00 p.m. this Friday to be included in the schedule for the 2018 review season. Applications received after Friday, September 14, might not be scheduled until the 2019 gopher review season.
If applicants used a consultant for the review, they must submit the consultant’s report by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 19. This allows staff time to review and field verify the report, if necessary, before the review window closes on October 31, 2018.
The Board of County Commissioners has taken steps to address the Mazama pocket gopher review process, including submitting a draft of the Habitat Conservation Plan to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS). The Board implemented key changes to the 2018 gopher review season resulting in a more streamlined and efficient review process, an increase in reviews, and the option for applicants to hire their own qualified consultants to conduct reviews.
With the 2018 review season ending on October 31, and the requirement of two site-visits, 30 days apart, the deadline to submit a permit application that requires county on-site gopher review is Friday September 14, at 4:00 p.m. County staff will continue to schedule site reviews for new permit applicants until the schedule is filled, but applications submitted after the deadline are not guaranteed an on-site review in 2018.
The application deadline does not apply to all building permit applicants. Gopher reviews only apply to building permit applicants who plan to build on properties mapped with gopher soils and are within the County’s permit jurisdiction. In a typical year that’s about 10 percent of the County’s 4,000 total applications.
Why the County conducts gopher reviews.
Thurston County is home to the threatened Mazama pocket gopher species. The federal Endangered Species Act protects these animals and their habitat. That means property owners who build on protected habitat may have federal hoops to jump through before they break ground.
The County adopted a gopher review process to help permit applicants deal with the federal listing. Without the review process, every County permit applicant with a building project on a gopher soil would have to work directly with USFWS. This would increase the cost significantly and add an estimated 24 to 36 months to the process.
To learn more about the County’s 2018 Gopher Review Process, visit www.thurstonplanning.org and select ‘Gopher Review Process’.