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Thurston County Comprehensive Plan

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Did you get a letter from Thurston County about mineral lands?
Click here to learn what the letter means (PDF).
The letter was simply informational. You will not be taxed by the County and no employee will visit.

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Project Manager:
Christina Chaput,
Associate Planner

Mineral Resource Lands Inventory

The Growth Management Act (GMA) requires counties to designate mineral resource lands (RCW 36.70A.060). In the past, Thurston County’s mapped mineral lands only included existing mining locations, but going forward, the County is required to map mineral lands more broadly, based on underlying geology.

Because of this, Thurston County is preparing a county-wide inventory and classification of mineral lands as part of the Comprehensive Plan Update. The inventory and classification will use to identify priority area where high quality mineral resources are available and compatible with existing land use patterns and other criteria. The County will establish policies that ensure future land use will be compatible with mineral extraction in designated areas. There will be opportunities for public input regarding designation criteria and policies in the upcoming year. Final decisions about mineral lands polices and designation map will be part of the overall Comprehensive Plan Update.

Public Meeting Materials

What are mineral resource lands?

Areas where geology and other factors may support the commercial extraction of minerals (mining), including sand, gravel, rock, and metals.

Sand and gravel, also known as aggregate, and bedrock are our primary resources. These materials are the building blocks used to manufacture cement, concrete, asphalt, and other materials used in the construction of roads and buildings.

In Thurston County, precious metals, such as copper or silver, are not available in significant quantities.

What is under review?

The County and its partners have developed a draft map of potential mineral resource lands based on geotechnical information from the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and others. Those areas are classified based on the quality and quantity of the potential resource. Both the draft inventory and draft classification are under review.

Once finalized, the inventory map and classification table will be the technical basis for policies to manage mineral resource lands in the Comprehensive Plan. For example, areas that already have higher density residential uses are likely not compatible with mineral resource extraction. These policy decisions will be considered in the update to the Comprehensive Plan, in 2018.

I received a letter from the County indicating my property may be affected. What does it mean?

We sent letters to landowners whose properties overlap or are near the boundary of areas identified in the draft inventory as having potential mineral resources. This does not mean that mining will be permitted on that property. The letter was intended to inform you about the potential change in how we map mineral lands. If you have technical information that can help improve the inventory, sharing it during the comment period will make the final maps more accurate.

Why does the draft map show mineral lands that overlap areas that are already developed or have environmental resources, such as wetlands or shorelines?

The mineral lands inventory must show where mineral resources may exist, based on available geologic information, regardless of other land uses. The next step in the project will be to screen the inventory against designation criteria that take into account numerous land use and environmental considerations. Some properties may be excluded from designation based on these criteria. Property owners with designated lands will still be required to apply for a permit and must comply with applicable land use and environmental regulations prior to conducting mining activities.


Contact for Mineral Lands Inventory:
Christina Chaput, Thurston County Associate Planner
chaputc@co.thurston.wa.us or 360-754-3355 x5486.


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