Habitat Conservation Plan

About the Yelm Habitat Conservation Plan

Background

The City of Yelm is located on the site of a fertile glacial prairie in the shadow of Mount Rainier
(Mount Tahoma, or “Təqʷuʔməʔ). The Yelm Prairie was originally inhabited by members of the
Nisqually Indian Tribe, who lived off the rich bounty of the prairie ecosystem and the nearby
Nisqually River. The prairie was a crossroad of Native American trails, connecting Cowlitz
River and Bald Hills trails and leading to Naches Pass to the Cascades. The Nisqually people
first used these trails, then fur traders, followed by British operators of the Hudson Bay
Company, American settlers, and eventually the Northern Pacific Railroad. Yelm was officially
incorporated on December 10, 1924. 

Today, Yelm has become the center of commerce for south Thurston and southeast Pierce
Counties due to the availability of jobs, goods, and services, as well as proximity to all major
metropolitan areas of western Washington. The growing commercial hub serves local and rural
citizens, including residents of the Nisqually tribal lands and military families stationed at Joint
Base Lewis-McChord. In addition, Yelm serves as a gateway to nearby national parks, where
tourists and citizens alike can connect to nature and enjoy outdoor recreation. Yelm also
remains a home for the distinctive flora and fauna found in South Puget Sound Prairie
ecosystems - a rare and declining natural community of native species.

Purpose

The purpose of the Yelm Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is to balance the preservation of
endangered species with the City’s development goals. The HCP will conserve endangered and
threatened species by providing restoration and/or long-term habitat protection across Yelm’s
lands.
The Yelm HCP will be a detailed plan intended to protect endangered or threatened species
from the day-to-day operations and growth of the City. The plan is intended to fulfill
requirements of Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act, under which federal permits can be
issued to "take" an endangered species. In this case, take is expected to result from activities
such as urban construction (e.g., residential, commercial, industrial, municipal), transportation
capital projects, City parks management, water resources management, transportation
maintenance, utilities installation and maintenance, sewer installation and maintenance, street
tree replacement, and conservation lands management.

Benefits

The HCP will provide for long-term preservation and management of species protected under
the federal Endangered Species Act. Protection of habitat for these species will also mitigate for
the impacts of ongoing development, maintenance, and other activities performed by the City
of Yelm, which have the potential to harm these species or their habitat.
  • Affected species will benefit from assured, long-term habitat protection.
  • The City will benefit from streamlined permitting for planned development and maintenance work because of the federal permit authorizing impacts to affected species.
  • Individual landowners will benefit from a shortened timeline to comply with the Endangered Species Act on proposed projects.

HCP Content and Status

An HCP includes:

  • A detailed description of the activities to be performed for development and for species protection, and their effects upon the species,
  • The governance structure of implementation,
  • Assurances that the financial resources needed for a successful plan are available and committed to the task.
The Yelm HCP is still in development. The City will be working on the draft plan through 2023, holding quarterly stakeholder meetings to solicit feedback during that time. A final draft plan is expected in 2024.

Sign up here to receive Yelm Habitat Conservation Plan development updates throughout the
life of the project.

Links


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Overview of Habitat Conservation Plans

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