Endangered Species Act

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Mazama pocket gopher, the Streaked horned lark, the Oregon spotted frog and the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly

Jim's response to the following question from the Nisqually Valley News is below. What do you believe the county can do to promote growth and make the process easier and more affordable while at the same time protect the Pocket Gopher?

The growth of our county is happening whether we want it to or not. In order to grow sustainably, we must focus on density in our cities and urban growth areas so we can preserve the rural character of our county. This doesn’t mean banning development in the unincorporated areas, it means taking an approach with predictable and affordable policies that protect our prairies, forests and farmland so they remain for generations to come. 

Nature.com calls grasslands and prairies the world’s most imperiled ecosystem, with only 5% protected worldwide. Here in Thurston County we are lucky enough to have some beautiful prairies. You know the quintessential image of the American west with rolling hills, tall grasses and wide open spaces? Ours are often bordered by gorgeous oak groves and have porous soils leading to pristine aquafers. It is important we have strong protections for prairie habitat in place as our natural beautify and unique setting between mountains and sound are the true drivers of our economy.

The Counties proposed Habitat Conservation plan for the Mazama pocket gopher, the Streaked horned lark, the Oregon spotted frog and the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly will respond to their listing as “threatened” by the US Department of Fish and Wildlife. When released, the proposed plan should balance development and conservation of the critical prairie habitat these creatures need. The final plan should provide maximum predictability for land owners.  By having the county negotiate the details of habitat conservation and mitigation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, landowners will save money and decrease the burden they face if they were to negotiate individually with the federal government. It is important the county work with effected property owners to find creative solutions that will protect the environment and provide reasonable development opportunities.