The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given Thurston County a $750,000 grant to develop the South Puget Sound Prairie Habitat Conservation Plan. The grant is part of the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, a competitive grant program that awarded nearly $33 million to programs and projects in 21 states this year.
The county is partnering with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and others to develop a comprehensive plan to protect the remaining 3 percent of high quality prairie land that exists in the South Puget Sound region, as well as the numerous plant and animal prairie species that are either endangered, threatened or a species of concern.
Grant-funded work the county will undertake includes detailed land surveys and creating a prairie land inventory, as well as extensive outreach to private landowners, who hold most of the remaining undeveloped prairie land.
County staff will also research and develop various land use policies, programs and incentives that will help restore and preserve remaining prairie habitat. The land use policies and programs will be focused on long-term habitat preservation goals that are designed to give landowners certainty about land use and development regulations for many years.