Federal, state funding help with Habitat Plan

I’d like to emphasize the support that the County’s federal, state, and local partners are providing in developing the Prairie Habitat Conservation Plan. During my discussions with the Olympian editorial board I did not emphasize the importance of their contributions.

To date, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided $1.38 million to fund the Critical Areas Ordinance update and the Habitat Conservation Plan process, with a total of $2 million available to the county to do this important work.

The county has partnered with many federal and local jurisdictions and nonprofits — including the Center for Natural Lands Management, State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Agriculture — to leverage our limited resources and make a significant impact on the recovery of our prairies. The partnership has been able to secure more than 2,000 acres of prairies for protection — a key achievement that will expedite prairie recovery efforts and lessen the regulatory burden that a listing might bring about.

In addition, Joint Base Lewis-McChord has pledged $3.57 million for land acquisitions, easements and endowments in Thurston County. This furthers the goals of a countywide system of preserves and will ease the burden on Thurston County.

Thurston County has maintained that protecting prairies is a joint effort. The partnerships in place enable us to share the costs — and the benefits — that come with preserving and restoring our unique natural resources.