words that say Thurston County

Gopher Review Process for Permits


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.


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)


This page last updated: