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Benefits of a Habitat Conservation Plan

Thurston County is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that will preserve prairie habitat and species while maintaining a thriving local economy. Prairie View

An HCP outlines a series of methods that can be used to regulate activities that could potentially harm a species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It creates a predictable, organized process for land use applications that are affected by endangered or threatened species. These plans outline the threats and opportunities for each species and determine an acceptable level of impact that won’t put the species or its habitat at risk.

An HCP works by quantifying the impacts that proposed land use actions might have, outlining mitigation and other conservation strategies, and ultimately results in an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By getting its own incidental take permit, Thurston County can keep land use decisions local.

It will also streamline the permitting process. Instead of requiring an individual plan for each new project, the HCP will address the most common activities that the County typically permits.

Prairie Wide View

In order to protect all of the species in the region, Thurston County’s HCP will cover the entire prairie ecosystem. It will not focus on specific species but rather the entire habitat where they might be found. This will not only protect the populations that are on the decline, but prevent the future extinction of species that haven’t been listed yet. If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decide to list another species as endangered or threatened, the County will not have to change its HCP.

Another benefit of the HCP is that landowners won’t have to worry about changing regulations. With the help and input from the public, Thurston County will be able to draft a plan that provides long-term certainty to individual landowners and economic development of our community. The entire process typically takes between three and five years. Once the plan is in place, regulations should last between 30 and 50 years.

Thurston County is working closely with government, non-profit and private partners to create a Habitat Conservation Plan that will benefit the economic and environmental well-being of the community.

Click here to read other Habitat Conservation Plans developed here in Washington in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Contact Us

Interested Parties: If you would like to be added to our Web Mail list, please click here. Staff contact: Andrew Deffobis, Associate Planner. Phone: (360) 754-3355, ext. 5467. E-mail: deffoba@co.thurston.wa.us.

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