Public Invited to Open Houses on Critical Areas Ordinance Updates

The Thurston County Planning Department will hold a series of community open houses regarding updates to the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance and prairie habitat protections.

The proposed amendments will affect activities in environmentally sensitive areas of the county, such as wetlands, prairie habitat, and other fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas. The proposed amendments also apply to areas that pose a threat to human safety, such as frequently flooded areas, geologically hazardous areas, and aquifer recharge areas.

The community open houses will all take place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and are scheduled as follows:

  • Tuesday, October 5, 2010: Great Wolf Lodge, 20500 Old Highway 99 SW, Centralia, WA 98531
  • Thursday, October 7, 2010: Thurston County Fairgrounds, 3054 Carpenter Rd., Lacey, WA 98503
  • Tuesday, October 12, 2010: Rainier Sportsmans Club, 404 Alaska St., Rainier, WA 98576
  • Monday, October 18, 2010: Thurston County Courthouse Complex, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW, Olympia, WA 98502 in Room 152

The open houses will consist of two components: informational displays with staff available to answer questions, and a presentation followed by an opportunity for participants to address a staff panel with questions and concerns. There will also be opportunities for interested parties to submit written comments. Public comment from the open houses will be used to inform changes to the 2010 draft. The comments will also be distributed to the Thurston County Planning Commission and the Thurston Board of County Commissioners.

In addition, in the next several months the Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners will both hold public hearings on the proposed amendments to the Critical Areas Ordinance. The public will be notified of those hearings once they are scheduled.


The process of updating Thurston County’s Critical Areas Ordinance began in 2003. In 2005, the county presented its first version to the public and held a series of open houses. In August 2005, the Thurston County Planning Commission held a public hearing to gather more comment on the draft.

Beginning in 2006, county staff and the Thurston County Planning Commission made hundreds of revisions to the proposal in response to public comments; however, work on the project ceased because of budget and staffing constraints. In early 2010, the Board of County Commissioners directed staff to create a public process and revisit the draft ordinance. Staff analysis and public comment suggests that a significant revision of the 2005 draft is necessary. That process is now underway. The County Commissioners’ goal is to consider and ultimately adopt an ordinance which brings the county into compliance with state regulations and is consistent with the latest Best Available Science, protects critical areas and recognizes the needs of property owners.

In 2010, the County received a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to amend its Critical Areas Ordinance and incorporate updated protections for the County’s prairie and Oregon white oak ecosystems. These ecosystems are rapidly disappearing due to development pressures, and they support a wide array of wildlife including the Mazama pocket gopher, Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly and the Streaked horned lark. These species are candidates for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Updating the Critical Areas Ordinance is also a way to ensure that county regulations “stay local.” If Thurston County fails to protect critical areas – especially certain habitats and species – the state and federal governments may step in and enact stricter requirements.

Click here for more information regarding the process of updating the Critical Areas Ordinance.

More information is available at the Thurston County Permit Assistance Center at the County Courthouse address above or online at, or by contacting Andrew Deffobis at or (360) 754-3355 ext. 5467. To receive project updates and hearing notices, click here to sign up for the Planning Department’s webmail list.

“How rocks can tell us about changes in the Earth’s spin and the Moon’s orbit”, Oct 12

On October 12, the Science Café of Olympia will present “The longer day: How rocks can tell us about changes in the Earth’s spin and the Moon’s orbit”

7:00 pm, Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Batdorf & Bronson Coffee House,
516 Capitol Way S. Olympia, WA, phone (360) 786-6717.

Batdorf & Bronson has three locations in Olympia. Science Café meets in the downtown coffee house on Capitol Way. On-street parking is available on Legion, Capitol Way, Columbia Street, and Water Street. After 6 p.m., there is parking available at Heritage Bank on Columbia Street between 5th and Legion.

Our planet is currently experiencing a long-term increase in the length of a day of 20 microseconds per year, meaning each day is, on average, nearly 55 nanoseconds longer than the last. Even our familiar Moon is not static in its orbit around Earth, increasing its average distance from us by 3.8 centimeters per year. Chris Coughenour will discuss how these phenomena are intimately related, why our corner of the solar system is undergoing such changes, and why these changes have not been constant in the distant past. He will also tell us how, through the geologic record of preserved tidal cycles, this long-standing problem first recognized by Edmund Halley may be solved throughout Earth’s long history.

Our speaker this month is Christopher L. Coughenour, Ph.D. at The Evergreen State College.

Coming in November: Bats of Washington by Greg Falxa, Cascadia Research

Science Café of Olympia provides an informal atmosphere where people both with and without scientific background can meet to gain a better understanding of interesting topics in science and technology. After a brief presentation by an expert in the field, the meeting will be opened to discussions. Science Cafés are found nationwide and are loosely affiliated with the U.K.-based Cafe Scientifique, an international organization promoting public engagement with science. The website is produced by the Science Unit of WGBH in Boston in association with Sigma Xi. Support for Science Café of Olympia is provided in part by the Puget Sound Chapter of The American Chemical Society.

We thank Batdorf & Bronson and its staff for welcoming us into their delightful gathering spot.

South Sound Estuary Association Aims to Create an Interpretive Center in Olympia

The South Sound Estuary Association (SSEA) was created in 2007 to establish and maintain an interpretive center, in or near downtown Olympia, with an emphasis on the marine and estuarine life of Puget Sound. SSEA asks us to:

Imagine an interactive learning center about estuaries and marine environments of South Puget Sound located in downtown Olympia, WA. A place of learning and recreation for the whole family.

Estuaries are important places where tidal salt water and fresh water from streams, rivers and creeks come together. All of Puget Sound is a large estuary – the 2nd largest in the U.S. with 2000 miles of shoreline.

Our Puget Sound Estuary is unique and it is in trouble! At the center you will learn why our estuary is special, the pressures on it, and how each of us can be part of the solution to make it a healthier place for marine and estuary life to live.

Located at the back-reaches of the Puget Sound, South Puget Sound has special characteristics because of the this location. Human and natural history have shaped the land and influenced the water.

The SSEA Marine Estuary Interpretive Center will provide a place where interactive hands-on, on-site, in the field, on-the-water, and in the classroom education opportunities will exist for people of all ages.

The SSEA is seeking ideas and assistance from individuals and groups in the South Puget Sound. Click here to download a copy of their brochure. Inside you will find a description of the goals of the SSEA, contact information, and a form you can use to join or to financially contribute to the SSEA.

For more information, see their web site at and their blog at

Emergency Preparedness Expo, October 9

Take Winter by Storm!

Emergency Preparedness Expo
Saturday, October 9
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
St. Martin’s University
Marcus Pavilion & Worthington Center
5300 Pacific Avenue SE, Lacey

Click here to download a copy of the flyer

Event Speakers Include:

• Willie Scott, U.S. Geological Survey – Thurston County’s Exposure to Volcano Hazards
• Ted Buehner, National Weather Service – Preparing for this Winter’s Weather
• William Steele, Pacific NW Seismic Network – Local Seismic (Earthquake) Hazards

Vendors, Information & Displays

* 2-1-1
* American Red Cross – Emergency Preparedness Information and Supplies
* CAPCOM 9-1-1
* Cabela’s
* Cascades Volcano Hazards – USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory
* Community Emergency Response Team Training Information
* Crisis Clinic Resource Network
* Department of Ecology – NFIP Floodplain Education
* Emergency Medical Training Associates (EMTA) – CPR and First Aid Resources
* – Seasonal Flu Shots Available for a fee
* J & I Power Equipment
* K-9 Demos by Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, Lacey and Olympia Police
* Knight Fire
* Lacey Fire District #3
* National Weather Service
* Office of the Insurance Commissioner
* Olympia Fire Department – Jaws of Life
* Prepaid Legal Services
* Puget Sound Energy – Electrical Safety Demonstration
* Quake Ready
* St. Martin’s Athletics Food Booth
* St. Martin’s University
* The Olympian
* Thurston County Amateur Radio Emergency Services / Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (ARES/RACES)
* Thurston County CAPCOM 9-1-1
* Thurston County Emergency Management Council – Local Preparedness and Hazards Information
* Thurston County Environmental Health
* Thurston County Long Term Recovery Organization (LTRO)
* Thurston County Medic One
* Thurston County Search & Rescue Council
* Thurston County Sheriff’s Office – Child Identification, Iris Scanning
* Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team Information
* Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Fraud Section – Identity Theft Protection
* Tumwater Fire Department
* University of Washingon Pacific NW Seismic Network
* The Volunteer Center – Volunteer Recruitment
* Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART)
* West Thurston Fire
* Wholesale Sports USA
* WSU Extension – Germ City
* Fun, Family-Friendly Exhibits!

For More Information Contact Vivian Eason, Thurston County Emergency Management at 360-786-5243 or email

Click here for this even’t information page and for a list of sponsors.

Click here for the Thurston County Emergency Management Homepage.

Griffin School has a Solar Power Demonstration Station

Some of us have often gazed at that expanse of metal covering the roof at Griffin School and have thought how wonderful it would be if there were photovoltaic and hot water panels, up there. We’ve imagined a time when the school building could “spin its electric meter backward,” particularly during the summer months, to both generate power for use by the customers of Puget Sound Energy and to help defray the District’s electrical expenses, during the school year. Solar technology continues to advance and the price of the equipment is continuing to decline. If Referendum Bill 52 passes, this November (click here for for a PDF file containing details about that Referendum), the funding to help make such a dream come true could become available. From the Griffin School District, we recently received this notice:

Griffin School District has made several adjustments to address rising electric and utility costs. The Griffin School Board supports ecologically sustainable practices that will help preserve the environment for current and future generations. It is the goal of the district to develop conservation measures around the concepts of reuse, reduce, recycle as well as water and energy conservation. As part of these continued measures, in February of 2010, Griffin staff worked with South Sound Solar to submit a grant to PSE for a Solar Power Demonstration Station. The grant was submitted with three things in mind . . .

1) to have solar modules installed at the school in a highly visible location;

2) to provide detailed classroom curriculum which is supported by an extensive renewable energy sci-ence kit and teacher training enabling many hours of hands on student experiences; and

3) to show a working solar power demonstration system to our staff and community members.

In May Puget Sound Energy awarded the Griffin School District grant funding in the amount of $14,500 to install the photovoltaic (PV) monitoring equipment and implement educational activities. Over the summer, district staff worked to have six solar modules installed just outside the main entry of the school. The modules were installed atop the SW corner of the main building and zero maintenance landscaping was put in to allow easy access to the viewing area of the modules. Visitors can meander through a rock path, on their way to learn about solar power. Students and community members will be able to access the solar information generated by this demonstration station in the classroom and online. In addition, community members will be able to see solar power in action via the web based program.

“Puget Sound Energy is Washington State’s oldest local energy utility and provides electric and nat-ural gas service to more than 1.2 million customers, primarily in the Puget Sound Region.” PSE has created a “Renewable Energy Education Program” (formerly the Solar Schools Program). This grant program is designed to increase the visibility of renewable energy, provide students with valuable educational opportunities, and is for educational facilities that have demonstrated a commitment to energy efficiency and are ready to expand their educational experience and opportunities with renewable electricity generation. Griffin’s Solar Power Demonstration Station is the first in 2010 to be completed and is the 13th educational facility to join PSE’s family of solar demonstration projects.

Stay tuned for the month of September when Griffin Elementary will have a dedication ceremony for the 1 kw solar power demonstration station.

Solar power does work in Washington State!

We commend the Griffin School District for receiving this grant and installing this demonstration station at the school. We imagine a time, in the not-too-distant future, when local generation of electricity and solar hot water is what’s done by most of our homes and businesses.

Madrona Grove’s “An Applie Affair” October 24

Join Madrona Grove (the fruit truck people) at “An Apple Affair” to taste and buy over 25 varieties of apples from three or more small Washington farms.

Sunday, October 24
Noon to 4 PM
Prosperity Grange

They’ll also be offering for sale baked goods as well as select winter storage vegetables.

Indulge in tasty apple dishes from the community apple potluck and if you have a favorite apple dish, bring it and the recipe to share. Madrona Grove will provide Olympic Mountain Ice Cream, coffee, tea and hot apple cider.

Apple supplies will be limited on the day of the event, but you can order apples by the box for pickup on that day by calling Madrona Grove at 866-2810 or sending them an email at

We hope to see you at An Apple Affair!

“Steamboat Island Getaway #6” Griffin School Foundation Auction Sep 18

Join your friends, neighbors, and community members for a fabulous evening of community support at our 6th bi-annual Steamboat Island Getaway

September 18, 2010 at 5:30pm

This year’s event will continue previous years tradition with
~ Live Action
~ Silent Auction
~ Seafood Dinner
~ Spirited Fun

Tickets: $50/person

Purchase tickets at Sunrise Hair Salon or the Island Market

To make a reservation, contact our Ticket committee

For information about the event, or to make a donation, please contact: Griffin School Foundation Auction committee

Click here to view a list of this year’s auction sponsors.

The next “all hands” auction meeting will be held on Tuesday September 14, at 6:00pm at the Prosperity Grange. These meetings are “open to the public”. Anyone who would like to contribute to this event is warmly welcomed!

The Griffin School Foundation was established in 1999 with the purpose of supporting and contributing to the improvement of public education and related needs in the greater Griffin Community that are not, or cannot be, supported by traditional funding sources. The Foundation, is registered as a Washington nonprofit corporation and operates under the umbrella 501(c)(3) of The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound.

The Griffin School Foundation purpose is fulfilled by:
~ Funding Grants that support improvement of public education
~ Funding scholarships for Griffin School students and former Griffin students;
~ Funding educational and training opportunities for Griffin School employees and Griffin School Board members;
~ Funding capital improvements and equipment for the Griffin School District and Griffin-area youth;
~ Providing historical and other displays at Griffin School;
~ Addressing the special needs of Griffin students;
~ Hosting events honoring our Griffin community senior citizens

For more information about the Griffin School Foundation, visit their web site at

Free Septic $ense Workshops in October

Come to a workshop to learn how to locate your septic system, choose a qualified pumper, and how to inspect your tank yourself. Find out which household products can harm your system, and what maintenance tasks can help prevent the need for expensive repairs. You can take home materials, a coupon for $10 off your next tank pumping, and the knowledge you need to properly maintain your septic system.

Two workshops will be held in October-

Wednesday, October 6: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Griffin Fire Departrment Main Station
3707 Steamboat Loop NW, Olympia, 98502

Thursday, October 21: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
McLane Fire Station #91
125 Delphi Rd NW, Olympia, 98502

Register on-line at Septic Workshops or call 360-867-2582 (TDD 360-867-2603).

“Haiti: Disaster & Hope” Lecture

Free Public Lecture. Olympia Center, Thursday September 16 at 7:30pm
Presented by the Olympia World Affairs Council

Doctor Tom Green, orthopedic surgeon at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, spent a month in Haiti following the earthquake. He and four colleagues from Virginia Mason Hospital set up a surgery center and operated on many of the Haitians who had suffered massive injuries in the quake.
His lecture “Haiti – Disaster and Hope” will describe the conditions at the time and provide an update on the current state of affairs as well.

Commissioner’s Note from Peter J Goldmark

Dear Friends & Supporters,

If we are going to restore Puget Sound by 2020, we all know it is going to take making some tough choices.

But that is not all – it will also take a lot of people, doing a lot of hard work. Which is why, this legislative session, I’ll be requesting legislation to Put People to Work, Cleaning up Puget Sound.

I’ve proposed the establishment of a Puget “SoundCorps,” a program that would hire young people and returning veterans to put them to work doing Puget Sound restoration projects.

You may not know that over 40% of the land in the Puget Sound basin is managed, owned or regulated by the Department of Natural Resources. That is a lot of responsibility – a responsibility I take very seriously. I believe that with this bill, we can harness federal grant funding that would provide more hands to do tough jobs like removing bulkheads, restoring habitat at toxic-sediment clean-up sites, assisting with the removal of forest roads that pollute streams, and more.

As a scientist, I am also excited to announce that we would be able to recruit young people and veterans with training in fields like biology, hydrology, and geology, using some SoundCorps teams as a training ground for the next generation of northwest natural resource scientists.

Unemployment in Washington is at a nearly unprecedented high, and young people and returning veterans are bearing more than their fair share of the burden. This is why, in the coming year, I look forward to working with you to put more boots on the ground, and more waders in the water to clean-up Puget Sound.


Peter J Goldmark
Commissioner of Public Lands

Click here for more information regarding Peter Goldmark, Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands.