By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

No Comment on Fender's Fate

With the Nov. 5 closing date looming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to get any comment on a Habitat Conservation Plan for Yamhill County, crafted under county direction by Cardno Entrix at a cost of $107,117.

That may be because this is the first public notice it has received, other than posting in the Federal Register and on the Fish and Wildlife website. The federal agency isn’t required to do anything more in the way of providing public notice, and its county partner is under no legal obligation in that regard.

The plan outlines measures the county will take to not only protect, but also enhance, the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly and its threatened Kincaid’s lupine host plan. In exchange for working to enhance the species and its habitat, the county hopes to obtain a 30-year take permit allowing incidental kills in the course of maintaining the gravel roads traversing remaining patches of habitat.

The plan is posted at To post a comment, in either oral or written form, follow the directions on the site.

Agency biologist Rich Szlemp defended the limited notice, saying posting in the Federal Register and on the agency website is standard practice. He said it’s consistent with what the organization typically does in soliciting public comment, particularly given the relatively narrow scope of the plan.

While the plan is countywide, Szlemp said the portion of the county affected by roadwork in habitat area is very limited.

“It sounds like it affects a lot of things, but in fact, it’s restricted to the road right-of-way, and there are only so many locations within the right of way,” Szlemp said. “With hundreds of miles of road covered, there are just a couple of acres of habitat where these plants and butterflies occur.”



Where are the areas of concern that the lupine exists? Overgrown vegetation can obstruct the views of drivers. Not mowing after March 20 could be hazardous depending on the locations. Essentially, that time period is the beginning of the growing season. How will the county deal with the invasive species that proliferate along road sides?

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