About the Bush Prairie Habitat Conservation Plan
Update: The working HCP draft for project stakeholders is now available.
The City of Tumwater and the Port of Olympia's Olympia Regional Airport are located on the site of a glacial prairie historically called Bush Prairie after its most remarkable early resident, George Washington Bush, who settled here in 1845. Since then most of Bush Prairie has been converted to agriculture or forestry, residences, and businesses, but part of it still remains and provides a home for the unique flora and fauna of the South Puget Sound Prairie ecosystem.
The Bush Prairie Habitat Conservation Plan is being developed to balance growth and the preservation of endangered species within the City of Tumwater and its urban growth area. The Habitat Conservation Plan will conserve these species by providing long-term habitat protection across a system of managed reserve areas. The City of Tumwater and the Port of Olympia are jointly developing the Habitat Conservation Plan through the terms of an Interlocal Agreement. A summary of the scope of the HCP is available.
The Habitat Conservation Plan will provide for long-term preservation and management of three species, protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, that occur in Tumwater: Olympia pocket gopher, streaked horned lark, Oregon spotted frog, and Oregon vesper sparrow. Protection of habitat for these species will also mitigate for the impacts of ongoing development, maintenance, and other activities performed by the City of Tumwater or the Port of Olympia, which have the potential to harm these species or their habitat.
The affected species will benefit from assured, long-term habitat protection. The people of Tumwater and the customers of the Port of Olympia will benefit from one federal permit authorizing impacts to these species, which will facilitate planned development and maintenance work. The Habitat Conservation Plan is expected to reduce the costs and time that would otherwise be needed for individual landowners to comply with the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.
Habitat Conservation Plan
The Bush Prairie Habitat Conservation Plan is intended to protect the four covered species, including the Olympia pocket gopher, a species that occurs only in the Tumwater area. The habitat conservation plan is a detailed plan for achieving this goal. The plan is required under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act, under which permits can be issued to "take" an endangered species by causing harm to the species or its habitat. In this case, "take" is expected to result from new development, from maintenance of City and Port facilities, and from maintenance performed at the conservation reserve sites.
At this time, a working draft of the Bush Prairie Habitat Conservation Plan has been developed and is available for review. The working draft plan explains the regulatory framework for the Habitat Conservation Plan; the physical setting, land use, and biological resources in the area covered by the Plan; the specific activities covered by the Plan; the effects of expected development and ongoing operations on the species covered by the Plan; the Planís conservation strategy; the Planís monitoring and adaptive management program; implementation of the Plan; the Planís cost and funding structure, as well as a discussion of the Planís alternatives to take.
Stakeholder meetings will be held on March 17 and April 21 at the Port of Olympia, in the Olympia Room at 606 Columbia St NW in Olympia. Additional details on the stakeholder meetings will be posted on this website prior to each event.
Please, sign up today to ensure that you receive updates throughout this process.