Tumwater would receive $225,000 to fund the final phase of the Bush Prairie Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) if the city council votes to accept it at its meeting on March 21.
The city’s General Government Committee voted yesterday to recommend it to the council. The grant agreement from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WFWD) would likely be approved as a consent item.
The city and the Port of Olympia have been jointly working since 2016 to create the HCP, which is a planning document that seeks to accommodate development while conserving protected species under the Endangered Species Act. The HCP for Bush Prairie seeks to conserve four endangered species in the area: the Olympia Pocket Gopher (Thomomys mazama pugetensis), the Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa), the Streaked Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris strigata), and the Oregon Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus affinis).
The two entities have already received federal grants amounting to $963,338 to support the first two phases of the HCP. Planning Manager Brad Medrud said that the next grant would fund the completion and adoption of the HCP, as well as fund activities needed to implement the plan.
The agreement details that such activities include updating relevant local codes, improving administrative systems to support the HCP, and developing a habitat management plan and monitoring program.
Medrud added that the fund would be used to continue ongoing tasks under the second phase, such as to complete environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).
The funding, which is sourced from the Conservation Planning Assistance Grant of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), requires a match of $79,000. The cost would be evenly split between Tumwater and the Port. As part of the agreement, WDFW is also set to receive $56,250 to support the administration of the grant and provide technical assistance.
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So.....963,000 dollars, and seven years......to create a "plan"? I'd love to see the stacks of paperwork this has created so far.
Friday, March 10 Report this
A map or actual street address would have been helpful. It took me 20 minutes online to find out where this is being built. Halvorsen?
Friday, March 10 Report this
Don't blame Tumwater or the Port - this is being undertaken due to the USFWS and their permitting requirements around the ESA (Endangered Species Act). In fact, the local agencies are trying to make building easier and more streamlined by going through this process. If they don't, individual builders (residential/commercial/etc.) would have to get a permit directly from USFWS. But the real issue not addressed here is that there will be an expected "gopher permit fee" of $58,000 per disturbed acre of property. Have 5 acres in the Tumwater area (city/port/county - doesn't matter) and want to build something? You'll have to pay that fee along with your building permit before turning a shovel of dirt. There are gopher maps and some areas are essentially "gopher free" and not subject to this additional requirement, but most areas of Tumwater and parts south fall under prime gopher habitat. Remember, the city isn't trying to harm anyone - they're subject to the same fees and restrictions as everyone else in this situation.
Wednesday, March 15 Report this