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Gopher Review Process for Permits

 

If your gopher review is set to expire, you may eliminate the need for another review by submitting a complete application for a building permit, subdivision, or development agreement prior to the expiration date. It will vest your County permit application under your existing gopher review.  Contact the Permit Assistance Center to learn about building permit options.

Notes: This action does not extend the clearance recommendation provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Take of a federally listed species is not permitted at any time regardless of the permit application or approval.

2017 Gopher Review Process

If you apply to Thurston County for a building permit, the County conducts on-site gopher reviews only if the project is on a mapped gopher soil or near a confirmed gopher site.

Why

The Mazama pocket gopher is a federally endangered species. It’s also protected by the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance and state law.  

Which applications are reviewed?

Those with ground-disturbing projects on mapped gopher soils (gophers prefer certain soils).

Who does the review?

Experienced, degreed biologists. One is a County employee, the other is from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency that listed the gopher.

Basic review process

  • Site visits start June 1 and stop October 31.
  • Sites get 2 visits, at least 30 days apart with last visit in August, September or October.
  • Biologists walk the entire property examining the ground, soils and vegetation.
  • They do not enter buildings or disturb manicured lawns
  • Staff let the planner assigned to your project know when the 2 site visits are completed.

What you have to do

  1. Prepare for a site visit
    • We send a scheduling email prior to the visit.
    • Mow tall Scotch broom 2-4 weeks before visit.
    • Remove piles of debris and dangerous materials.
       
  2. Get information after a site visit

Documents and Details

If gophers are found

Gophers have been found on very few properties (about 1% of the County’s 4,000 applicants). Most people have been willing to modify their plans a bit to accommodate them. If you’re unable to do so, you may apply to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a federal permit and create a mitigation plan. All County applications are processed in accordance with the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance(PDF)

 

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