Want to build in unincorporated Thurston County? Better submit permits sooner rather than later, county officials say.

That's because the county released an interim review process aimed at protecting Mazama pocket gophers, which will be in place between now and October 2016.

The screening process remains about the same as it was last year, the county stated, which resulted in more than 90 percent of permit applicants receiving clearance for their permits. 

This year's process includes two or three site visits conducted between June and October by a team of county and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prairie experts. In order to complete the visits within the timeframe, officials suggest applications need to be submitted by Friday, July 31.

While the screening is free, the process is still a thorny issue for builders.

“Long term, the gopher listing will have a tremendous impact on the building industry in Thurston County because gopher soils cover so much of unincorporated Thurston County,” said Troy Nichols, CEO of Thurston County Master Builders Association. “Best case scenario, the listing and subsequent mitigation requirements contained in the still to be adopted Habitat Conservation Plan will add thousands of dollars to the cost of building homes in Thurston County.  Worst case, it will essentially shut down building in most of the county, and the growth management act will not be able to function as it was designed.”