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The Board of County Commissioners has adopted an updated Critical Areas Ordinance, which includes the protections set forth by the interim prairie ordinance. Click here to view the adopted ordinance.
Click here to view the most recently adopted interim prairie ordinance.
On July 28, 2009 the Thurston County Board of Commissioners temporarily changed regulations to better protect prairies and oak woodlands until permanent regulations could be brought forward with the Critical Areas Update. Those changes were enacted through an interim ordinance, Ordinance 14260. This ordinance was renewed, and amended, in 2010 through Ordinance 14380. It was renewed again on Jan. 25, 2011 through Ordinance 14478 and on July 26, 2011 through Ordinance 14542.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has provided grant funding to continue Thurston County's prairie conservation work.
What Were the Major Changes Enacted in 2009 (and renewed in 2010 & 2011)?
Changes Made During the 2010 Renewal (and renewed in 2011)
The renewal ordinance
(Ordinance No. 14380)
approved in 2010 included three amendments, which were upheld in renewal ordinances (Ordinance No. 14478
and Ordinance 14542) approved in 2011:
1. One amendment addressed an issue in the existing Critical Areas Ordinance that that required commercial and industrial applications to obtain a Reasonable Use Exception, even in areas that are up to six-hundred (600) feet outside of prairie and oak habitat. This change did not permit industrial and commercial uses outright within a prairie or oak woodland habitat area, but it did clarify that those uses require a habitat management plan be prepared consistent with other uses listed in the Critical Areas Ordinance.
2. Another amendment updated the areas covered by the ordinance in Table 13-Prairie Soils by removing some soils from the ordinance’s list of prairie soils. These exclusions were based on guidance from US Fish and Wildlife and were primarily areas containing steeper slopes and fluvial (river- and streambed) surfaces, where prairie habitat is rarely found.
3. The third amendment increased the exemptions in the ordinance to include small lots that contain prairie soil but that are unlikely to contain prairie habitat due to their size and the nature of surrounding development.
Thurston County commissioners exempted agricultural uses from the interim prairie regulations when they approved Ordinance 14542 in July 2011. This provision will allow Thurston County time to assess the available options under a new law that went into effect in July through Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1886. The new law is the result of a four-year-process by the Ruckelshaus Center to address agricultural uses and critical areas regulations.
On July 7, 2011 the Thurston County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing to take testimony on an extension of the interim prairie ordinance. Due to significant public interest in this topic, the County is posting a number highly requested documents below:
Thurston County Commissioners renewed the interim prairie ordinance for another six months on July 26, 2011, and included a provision to exempt agricultural uses. Click here for details.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This page last updated:
Interim Prairie and Oak Woodlands Conservation Ordinance