The federal listing of three prairie species under the Endangered Species Act has certainly drawn the attention of Thurston County jurisdictions, especially the listing of the Mazama Pocket Gopher. I commend Thurston County commissioners on being proactive by developing a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that will help landowners, especially those in southern Thurston County, manage their properties successfully while still being covered by the County’s HCP.
The Commissioner who has helped drive this HCP is Commissioner Karen Valenzuela. In my opinion, her vision to get on top of the federal listing by coming up with how to protect prairie habitat for these species speaks volumes for how to manage Thurston County’s vital natural resources while still helping landowners, who most likely could not finance individual HCPs to cover their private land.
I will vote for Commissioner Valenzuela this November because of her commitment to her constituents in her district, while still protecting Thurston County’s fragile prairies and the species that rely on them. I hope you will also.