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Gopher Review Process for Permits


2019 Gopher Review Process

The 2019 Site Visit Season opens June 1.
On-site visits by qualified consultants can begin Saturday, June 1. County staff will begin on Monday June 3.  The review season will end October 31. The County accepts permit applications year-round. All applications are reviewed to determine if a project may be released from the full gopher review process. Some project types, site conditions or other factors preclude the need for site visits.

The 2019 Gopher Review Protocol is available below under Official Documentation.

When applying to Thurston County for a building permit, projects on gopher soils get on-site visits to rule out the presence of Mazama pocket gophers, a species protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Most of the County's permit applications are not on gopher soils, and don’t require gopher review.

Pre-Review Process

  • Applications are accepted and pre-screened in the office year-round.
  • Some project types or site conditions may be cleared right away. Read the County exclusions (PDF).

Basic Review Process

  • Please prepare for a site visit by mowing. See mowing instructions (PDF).
  • On-site visits start June 1 and end October 31.
  • Properties are visited two times, 30 days apart.
  • Applicants may choose to have site visits done by County staff, or they may hire a private biological consultant. Fees apply.
    • See Gopher Consultant List
    • Applicants must notify the County in writing of their choice.
    • Consultants must have completed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2018 training prior to conducting reviews, and also follow formal County protocols.
  • County staff walk the entire property examining the ground, soils and vegetation. They don't enter buildings or disturb manicured lawns.
  • When site visits are complete, the project status is updated in the online permit status lookup, and the project case manager is notified.

If Gophers Are Found

If gophers are found some applicants modified their plans a bit to avoid mitigation requirements. Others worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create a mitigation plan or habitat conservation plan for their project. Staff will discuss the options (PDF). All applications are processed in accordance with the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance. The County is also working on an umbrella habitat conservation plan that would cover most permit applicants, and eliminate the gopher review requirement.

Official Documentation

More Information

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