Prairie Species Protection, What Does it Mean?

prairieLast month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the Mazama pocket gopher as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Four of the listed subspecies, known as the Olympia, Roy Prairie, Tenino, and Yelm pocket gophers, are found only in Pierce and Thurston counties.

The gopher joins the streaked horned lark and Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly as protected species native to our local prairies. On Monday, May 19, join Commissioner Romero and her guest, Associate Planner Andrew Deffobis, for coffee, and learn what the county is doing to respond to these new federal requirements.

Andrew Deffobis is an associate planner with the Thurston County Resource Stewardship department. He works on the county's Habitat Conservation Plan and is the lead staff member for the county's Conservation Futures Program. Andrew received a bachelor of science degree in marine science at Coastal Carolina University and a master of environmental studies degree from The Evergreen State College. Before joining Thurston County in 2010, Andrew worked in current and long range planning at the Thurston Regional Planning Council.

In anticipation of the potential federal listing of several species in Thurston County, the County has been working closely with USFWS and other regional partners to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that will protect not only listed species, but the entire prairie ecosystem and the prosperity of our region.

Because the listings will be finalized before the HCP is complete, the county is also preparing an interim permitting strategy that will allow limited development to continue while the comprehensive HCP is developed.

Once a month, Commissioner Romero meets with community members for informal coffee chats. These meetings give you the opportunity to talk about issues of concern, ask her questions about the county, and share ideas. Commissioner Romero provides participants' coffee. She is the representative of District 2, which includes Yelm, Lacey, and Rainier.

What: Citizen meeting with second district County Commissioner Sandra Romero
When: Monday, May 19, 2014
Where: Rainier: 9:30am – 10:30am at Rainier City Hall, 102 Rochester St W
Yelm: 11:00am – Noon The Triad Theater, 102 Yelm Ave SE
Lacey: 2:00pm – 3:00pm at Forza Coffee Shop, 130 Marvin Rd SE, Ste. 130

May 13, 2014/TC Press Release