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.