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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
SPECIES RECOVERY: Habitat Conservation Planning in California, Nevada, and Klamath Basin – 2007 in Review    
Region 8, February 6, 2008
California red-legged frogs are one species benefitting from local Habitat Conservation Plans. (Photo: USFWS)
California red-legged frogs are one species benefitting from local Habitat Conservation Plans. (Photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

Mary Grim, Region 8 Ecological Services
When people think about endangered species in California, they often think about the number of species listed and the acres of critical habitat designated.  What many folks aren’t aware of is the considerable efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve species and their habitats within California, Nevada, and the Klamath Basin.  The Habitat Conservation Planning Program is working cooperatively with local governments and private landowners to solve land use conflicts and preserve habitats that are important for listed species. 

Under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act, private land owners can receive a permit for the incidental take of listed species that may occur from activities on their property.  In order to receive a permit, the landowner must prepare a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that offsets any harmful effects to the species resulting from their activities.  The Service frequently assists landowners during the development of the HCPs by providing technical assistance about the species biology and habitat needs. 

Since the Program began, Region 8 has permitted 126 HCPs in California and Nevada.  In 2007, we permitted 17 HCPs, covering approximately 308,330 acres in California and protecting 27 different listed species.  The following are a few of the HCPs completed in 2007:

Fisher Family HCP

The Fisher Family HCP covers the take of Point Arena mountain beaver and Behren’s blue butterfly associated with the construction and inhabitance of a single family dwelling on 24 acres in Mendocino County, California.  This plan benefits the species by permanently setting aside two areas that to conserve the species and their habitat.

Alere HCP

The Alere HCP plan covers the take of Delhi sands flower loving fly associated with the construction of a commercial development on approximately 18 acres in Rialto, California.  This plan contributes to the species’ conservation by purchasing land that to be preserved and managed in perpetuity for Delhi sands flower loving fly.

PG&E San Joaquin O&M HCP

The PG&E San Joaquin Operations and Maintenance HCP covers take of 30 listed and 35 unlisted species associated with the operation and maintenance of PG&E facilities in the San Joaquin Valley.  Listed species conserved by this plan include San Joaquin kit fox, California red-legged frog, valley elderberry long-horned beetle, and California jewelflower.  The HCP allows for streamlined permitting and expedited maintenance of PG&E facilities and ensure the conservation of species in the San Joaquin Valley.

Copper Mountain College HCP

The Copper Mountain College HCP covers the take of desert tortoises associated with the expansion Copper Mountain Community College onto 72 acres in San Bernardino County, California.  The plan conserves tortoises by acquiring 80 acres to be managed in partnership with the National Park Service to benefit desert tortoises.  The plan also establishes an 85 acre desert tortoise translocation area that will provide a local refuge for tortoises.

We continue to work with our partners to develop conservation plans that will successfully conserve species and their habitats.  In Nevada, we are cooperating with local governments and landowners to develop six HCPs that will assist with the conservation and recovery of desert tortoise and numerous other desert species.  In California, approximately 98 HCPs are currently being developed that will conserve a wide variety of species and habitats throughout the State.  For example, within the Central Valley, the Service is cooperating with nine different Counties to develop regional conservation plans that will allow for economic growth while conserving species and their habitats.

As the California and Nevada populations continue to grow, the pressure on the Region’s species and ecosystems will increase.  The Habitat Conservation Planning Program provides a valuable tool for the Service to work proactively with local governments and landowners to strategically conserve species and habitat.  In the future, it is a priority to focus on continued coordination between regional HCP efforts to ensure consistent conservation goals and habitat connectivity. 

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov