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Ski
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PostSun Feb 02, 2020 11:18 am 
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West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area 02-20-20

(* Please see my trip reports posted HERE  and HERE *)

West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area 100519 03
West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area 100519 03
Friends of Rocky Prairie 01
Friends of Rocky Prairie 01
Friends of Rocky Prairie 02
Friends of Rocky Prairie 02

Immediately adjacent to the West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area, which is administered by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, is a 746-acre parcel currently owned by the Port of Tacoma.
The Port of Tacoma, in its infinite wisdom, paid three times market value for this piece of real estate, which is nowhere near any Port of Tacoma facility, and miles and miles away from any tidewater container facility.
They now want to recoup their poorly-chosen "investment" and turn it over to an out-of-state concern for the purpose of constructing an enormous "cargo handling facility", which will ultimately destroy the rural character not only of the site itself, but also that of the adjoining West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area and Millersylvania State Park.

One of the more egregious aspects of this scheme is that the Thurston County Board of Commissioners several years ago instituted (by exectutive fiat) an "Emergency Ordinance" to protect the federally-listed Threatened Mazama Pocket Gopher (Thomomys mazama). For well over a decade, Thurston County, WDFW, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have been giving private property owners all over Thurston County nothing but grief because of this animal, prohibiting private property owners from constructing outbuildings, building fences, or digging vegetable gardens. In one instance they demanded a property owner remove an existing in-ground swimming pool which had been there for years. (Feel free to search YouTube for any number of videos documenting personal stories from private property owners in the area.)

It is the zenith of irony that the Thurston County Commissioners could institute a policy presumably to protect an animal listed as Threatened under the ESA, and then turn around and green light a project which will thwart those same efforts being made by WDFW and USFWS.

In a word, this is madness. Government mismanagement at its very worst.

Personally, I don't really care much about Mazama Pocket Gophers.
I do care a great deal about the preservation of those scant and small remaining remnants of Puget Sound Glacial Outwash Prairie - a unique oak-prairie-grass ecosystem which supports a plethora of indigenous fauna, and has all but succumbed to development since the middle of the nineteenth century.

I encourage those of you who are concerned about such matters to do the necessary homework, take a look at the documents I've linked to here, and contact not only the Thurston County Commissioners, but the Port of Tacoma Commissioners and your State Representatives as well.

Wikipedia Article on Rocky Prairie

WDFW Executive Summary

Thurston County Planning Document

Capitol Land Trust

Friends of Rocky Prairie Location and Maps


My letter of 12/20/19 to WDFW below:

Ski, in an email of Fri, Dec 20, 2019 wrote:


Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife
Olympia, Washington

re: Mazama Pocket Gopher Recovery Program

Gentlemen:

Perhaps I’ve overlooked something, but it seems obvious that the first course of action that should be taken, if WDFW is indeed serious about protecting and restoring populations of the Mazama Pocket Gopher, would be to halt any further action on the development of the Port of Tacoma’s plan to develop the parcel immediately adjacent to the West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area into some sort of monstrous industrial complex.

We’re talking about a little furry animal about 5 or 6 inches long that burrows under the soil, and whose favorite habitat is the scant remaining parcels of South Puget Sound Glacial Outwash Prairie, almost all of which has been developed either for commercial, residential, industrial, or military use.
Currently the Port of Tacoma (who owns the parcel immediately adjacent to the West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area) wants to turn it over to an out-of-state company so that they can run more trains and more trucks right next to this area that WDFW field personnel are currently working on to restore the habitat of this animal.

I don’t profess to be some kind of expert on Mazama Pocket Gophers, and I’m certainly no wildlife biologist, but from this layman’s point of view it seems damn stupid to start running more commercial truck traffic and more trains (which will unquestionably cause more noise and more vibration) right next door to a project area where you’re trying to protect a rodent.
To wit: if you want to get rid of the moles in your lawn, set up a few windmills. Even those little 99-cent plastic pinwheels they sell at “dollar store” will drive the little buggers out if you put up enough of them. They cause a sympathetic vibration that drives the animals crazy and they move away. I’ve done it in the past at my home in Tillicum, another house I lived in over off Waller Road East, and up along the Nisqually River next to Yelm. Don’t even try to tell me it doesn’t work.

This is a no-brainer, folks.

Washington State taxpayers are shelling out millions of dollars to protect threatened and endangered species, and yet the Port of Tacoma, in their infinite wisdom, wants to toss a monkey wrench into the gears with this hare-brained scheme to turn that parcel over for some sort of mega-monster commercial “industrial cargo center”.
Seriously?

Thurston County, WDFW and the US Fish & Wildlife Service has already caused enough grief for private property owners on behalf of this Mazama Pocket Gopher. Unless WDFW (or Thurston County) wants to pony up the bucks to buy out (at fair market value) all that privately-owned real estate that might have been “suitable habitat”, how about some common sense and reason and logic prevail here, and instead of going ahead with this ill-conceived plan for an “industrial cargo center”, WDFW and USFWS and Port of Tacoma all sit down and hammer out some kind of land-swap deal for that parcel?

Ahhh.. maybe it’s just delusional wishful thinking on my part to believe that our elected officials could DO THE RIGHT THING.

Thank you sincerely for your time and consideration.

* FULL DISCLOSURE: I am in no way affiliated with, or a part of, any group or organization. I have no vested interest in Mazama Pocket Gophers, West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area, or anything else in Thurston County.

cc: Gary Edwards, Thurston County Commissioner
cc: John Hutchings, Thurston County Commissioner
cc: Tye Menser, Thurston County Commissioner
cc: Friends of West Rocky Prairie
cc: Kristin Ang, Port of Tacoma Commissioner
cc: Hon. Jeannie Darneille, Washington State Senate
cc: Hon. Jake Fey, Washington State Legislature
cc: Hon. Laurie Jinkins, Washington State Legislature


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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Ski
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Joined: 28 May 2005
Posts: 10632 | TRs
Location: tacoma
Ski
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PostSun Feb 02, 2020 6:00 pm 
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see also WDFW Press Release of December 13, 2019 - WDFW seeks comment on draft recovery plan and periodic status review for the Mazama Pocket Gopher

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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