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Critical Areas Update

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Critical Areas Ordinance
The Board of County Commissioners has scheduled a public hearing on the Critical Areas Ordinance update for June 23, 2012.
Click here for more information.

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Schedule of Events and History

Critical Areas Ordinance Update Adopted

The Board of County Commissioners adopted the updated Critical Areas Ordinance on July 24, 2012.  Click here to view the adopted ordinance.

Public Hearings

The Planning Commission held its public hearing on December 10, 2011, and made its recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners in May 2012. To read their recommendation, click here.

The Board of County Commissioners held its public hearing on the Critical Areas Ordinance on Saturday, June 23, 2012.  For more information on the hearing, click here.

Open Houses, October 2010

In October, the Thurston County Planning Department held a series of community open houses regarding updates to the County's Critical Areas Ordinance and prairie habitat protections. The open houses took place October 5 at Great Wolf Lodge, October 7 at the Fairgrounds, October 12 at the Rainier Sportsmans Club, and October 18 at the Thurston County Courthouse.

Public comments have been considered during the drafting of the ordinance language. The comments have also been distributed to the Thurston County Planning Commission and the Thurston Board of County Commissioners.

Background Informationmeeting

The process of updating Thurston County's Critical Areas Ordinance began in 2003. In 2005, the county presented its first version to the public and held a series of open houses. In August 2005, the Thurston County Planning Commission held a public hearing to gather more comment on the draft.

Beginning in 2006, county staff and the Thurston County Planning Commission made hundreds of revisions to the proposal in response to public comments; however, work on the project ceased because of budget and staffing constraints. In early 2010, the Board of County Commissioners directed staff to create a public process and revisit the draft ordinance. Staff analysis and public comment suggests that a significant revision of the 2005 draft is necessary. That process is now underway. The County Commissioners' goal is to consider and ultimately adopt an ordinance which brings the county into compliance with state regulations and is consistent with the latest Best Available Science, protects critical areas and recognizes the needs of property owners.

In 2010, the County received a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to amend its Critical Areas Ordinance and incorporate updated protections for the County's prairie and Oregon white oak ecosystems. These ecosystems are rapidly disappearing due to development pressures, and they support a wide array of wildlife including the Mazama pocket gopher, Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and the Streaked horned lark. These species are candidates for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

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