Port agrees to extend partnership with Tumwater for completion of habitat conservation plan


 The Port of Olympia Commission amended an interlocal agreement with the city of Tumwater to extend their partnership and continue developing a habitat conservation plan (HCP).

The amendment was approved as part of the commission’s consent agenda on Monday, January 22.

The agreement, originally created in 2016, had already been extended twice but expired in December 31 last year. The amendment does not extend the contract to a definite date but instead pushes it to 90 days after the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finally issues an incidental take permit.

The document's approval by FWS is necessary for the agency to issue an incidental take permit, which would authorize the conservation and mitigation measures detailed in the HCP. An incidental take permit essentially allows activities that would otherwise result in the illegal harming or capture of a listed species.

In the port’s case, the Olympia pocket gopher and the Streaked horned lark occur in port properties, according to Director of Environmental Planning Shawn Gilbertson’s presentation back on January 8. The port and Tumwater’s HCP also include plans for the Oregon vesper sparrow and the Oregon spotted frog.

If an incidental take permit is not issued by the end of 2028, the agreement between the port and Tumwater will terminate.

The contract amendment also details how the two parties would share the cost of matching HCP grants. According to the amendment, the two parties would contribute $50,000 for a grant in the project's third phase and another $90,000 each for a grant in the fourth phase.

Public commenters request delay

Four members from the public spoke about delaying the amendment's approval during the meeting's public comment portion.

Tumwater resident Carla Wulfsberg requested a one-month delay, explaining that it would provide more time for the commissioners and the new executive director to understand the HCP process better. Wulfsberg added that the additional time could allow the commissioners to discuss the issue with wildlife experts.

Before the consent agenda was approved, Commissioner Jasmine Vasavada supported the amendment, saying it was just an extension.

“I am supportive of us treating this as an item on the consent calendar as I see it as fulfilling our commitments to the city of Tumwater as a partner in how we pursue coming up with our strategy for protecting these endangered species,” Vasavada said adding, “I see this as a governance document and from what I can see, our shared agreement on how we work together expired on December 31 and what this does is actually just extend the agreement.”

Editor's Note: The fourth paragraph has been revised following a clarification of the story sent by the Port of Olympia.


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  • Boatyarddog

    As Commissioner Vasavada commented " this action is an Extension of an already issued agreement!

    It should be approved.

    Our Enviroment is MUCH more in need of Protection, espically with Thurston Counties Planning Dept.for Mega Projects like a new airport

    In South County

    Wednesday, January 24 Report this