Thurston County looking for firm to manage its conservation lands


Thurston County is looking for a consulting firm to help manage its conservation lands.

The county issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) last week to hire a non-profit conservation firm that will administer lands acquired through the county’s Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP).

The HCP allows the county to permit development activities in areas with endangered species. The plan protects three subspecies: the Mazama pocket gopher, the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, the Oregon vesper sparrow, and the Oregon spotted frog.

Part of the HCP is to purchase habitat land for these species to mitigate the impact of development.

According to the RFQ, the selected firm will have to develop site management plans for all conservation lands and implement activities to enhance these areas. Activities may include prescribed burning, targeted herbicide application, management of invasive species, mowing, and seeding.

The firm will also have to monitor the effectiveness of these activities and the county’s compliance with the terms set by the US Fish and Wildlife Service when it approves the county’s HCP. Monitoring will be done based on procedures described in the HCP and by tracking the status of affected species.

The firm will also have to enforce the terms of conservation easements, which are agreements between a landowner and a land trust to limit developments on conservation lands.

Associate Planner Marisa Whisman told the Board of County Commissioners last week that qualified respondents to the RFQ would include consulting firms with expertise in prairie and wetland restoration along South Puget Sound. Whisman also mentioned that the selected firm will be paid using funding from HCP mitigation fees.


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