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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, December 10, 2012
Andrew Deffobis, Thurston County Associate Planner, 360-786-5467
Scott Clark, Planning Director, 360-709-3005

Thurston County Ready to Work with Residents/Agencies After Announcement

OLYMPIA - U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has proposed a rule making to provide protection for the Mazama Pocket Gopher under the Endangered Species Act. The proposal is similar to those issued earlier for the streak horned lark and Taylor's checkerspot butterfly which also rely on prairie habitat.

While this is a federal proposal, the county is well situated to cooperate with related agencies and county residents on the issue, according to county Planning Director Scott Clark. "The county's recently adopted Critical Areas Ordinance helps to provide protections for prairie habitat. It also helps the county give maximum land use flexibility for property owners."

The Board of County Commissioners has also entered into an agreement with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan for prairies using funds awarded by USFWS. According to Thurston County Commission Chair Cathy Wolfe, the plan's goals "..will be to protect threatened and endangered species in perpetuity, maintain local control of land use regulations, and provide long term certainty in land use and economic development."

The county is evaluating the proposed listing to develop policy, program and project initiatives to protect species to achieve the Commission's goals. Thurston County residents will be asked to take part in the process as well and dates and times for such meetings will be announced later.

For more information on the proposed listing, please visit http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/planning/



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3