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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 County permit application or approval.

The Site Visit Season is Now Closed
Most applications don’t require gopher reviews, and will not be affected.

The 2017 gopher review season ended on October 31, 2017. The County is still accepting permit applications. When you submit an application, County staff can check an address or parcel number and let you know if your project site requires site visits.

The Next Site Review Season
Based on previous years, we expect the 2018 review season to open June 1, 2018. Applications are pre-screened in the office year-round to determine if a project even requires gopher review. Some project types, site conditions or situations may not, and may be cleared right away.

The Basic Gopher Review Process

Each year, the Thurston Board of County Commissioners adopts a gopher review process. The process for 2018 is not yet in place. The general process is described below.

A typical review process

If you apply to Thurston County for a building permit for a project on gopher soils or near a confirmed Mazama pocket gopher site, the County conducts on-site gopher reviews. The County implemented a review process because the Mazama pocket gopher is protected by federal endangered species laws, the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance and state law.

  • Site visits start June 1 and stop October 31.
  • Sites typically get 2 visits, at least 30 days apart.
  • 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.

How to 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.

How to get information after a site visit

Documents and News Releases

If gophers are found

All County applications are processed in accordance with the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance(PDF). Some people have been willing to modify their plans a bit to accommodate gophers found on their project site. If you’re unable to do so, you may apply to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a federal Incidental Take Permit, and work with federal authorities to create a mitigation plan specifically for your project.

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