Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

$24 Million in Grants to Support Habitat Acquisition and Conservation Planning for Endangered Species in California

Aug 26, 2011

Date: August 26, 2011
Media Contact:
Erica Szlosek, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (916) 414-6464
Andrew Hughan, Department of Fish and Game, (916) 322-8944

$24 Million in Grants to Support Habitat Acquisition and Conservation Planning for Endangered Species in California

SACRAMENTO, CA – Projects throughout California will receive more than $24 million in grants through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (CESCF). These grants will support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants, and help local California governments expand their environmental programs.

Authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act, the competitive grants enable the state to work with private landowners, conservation groups, and other agencies to initiate cost-effective conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat to support the conservation of threatened and endangered species.

“Ensuring the survival of imperiled species depends on long-term partnerships and voluntary landowner participation,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “The vital funding provided by these grants empowers landowners and communities to safeguard habitat for threatened and endangered species and foster conservation stewardship efforts for future generations.”

The CESCF will provide grant funding through the Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grants Program, the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program, and the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program. The three programs were established to help advance creative partnerships for imperiled species conservation recovery.

“California is one of the most diverse and biologically rich regions in the world and these grants support the department’s continuing conservation partnerships with local government to ensure that diversity remains for future generations to enjoy,” said John McCamman, Director of the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG). “This grant program and the delivery of conservation through local governments is an excellent example of the critical nature of partnerships in meeting the department’s mission.”

A complete list of the 2011 grant awards under these programs (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 15.615) is available online at www.fws.gov/endangered/grants/index.html.

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are agreements between a landowner and the Service. These agreements allow a landowner to undertake otherwise lawful activities on their property, even if they may impact listed species, when that landowner agrees to conservation measures designed to minimize and mitigate the impact of those actions. HCPs may also be developed by a county or state to cover certain activities of all landowners within their jurisdiction and may address multiple species. In California all of the plans that were awarded grants are developed hand in hand with DFG under the state’s Natural Community Conservation Planning Act (NCCP) or California Endangered Species Act.

Under the HCP Land Acquisition Grants Program, the Service provides grants to states for land acquisition that complements the conservation objectives of approved HCPs. Projects to receive these grants include:

Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP). This grant will result in the acquisition of land that will greatly enhance the existing Coachella Valley MSHCP by securing key regional wildlife linkages and sand transport areas as well as preserving core habitat areas. The land acquisition will benefit 20 species, including seven federally listed species such as Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, desert tortoise, and peninsular bighorn sheep.

San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP). This project will result in the acquisition of 250-600 acres of land that will greatly enhance the existing San Diego MSCP by securing key regional wildlife linkages and preserving core habitat in four targeted areas. The acquisitions will benefit 31 listed and unlisted species, including the San Diego fairy shrimp, arroyo toad, least Bell’s vireo, coastal California gnatcatcher, southwestern willow flycatcher, and bald eagle.

East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP). These funds will purchase lands that will provide important habitat and wildlife corridors for many of the 28 covered species covered in the HCP/NCCP, including eight federally listed species such as the San Joaquin kit fox, California red-legged frog, and vernal pool tadpole shrimp.

The HCP Planning Assistance Grants Program also provides grants to states to support the development of HCPs through the funding of baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach and similar planning activities. These grants have been awarded to:

Bay Delta Conservation Plan. This project will support the development of an HCP/NCCP for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta (Delta) Region. The Delta is the largest estuary on the west coast. The Bay Delta HCP/NCCP is being developed as a long-term comprehensive plan that will conserve and manage covered species and natural communities in perpetuity while providing reliable water supplies for the state’s myriad of beneficial uses. Species that will benefit from this HCP include the Delta smelt, Chinook salmon, valley elderberry longhorn beetle, and the giant garter snake.

Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)/Measure M2 NCCP/HCP. This grant supports the development of a comprehensive holistic, rather than piecemeal, conservation program in order to provide higher-value environmental benefits, while allowing freeway projects to be implemented. The plan will conserve and enhance key connections between existing conservation areas and provide additional live-in habitat, buffering proposed covered species from natural and stochastic variation. The plan also includes maintaining opportunities for dispersal and genetic exchange and provides wildlife and plants the opportunity to shift their distribution in response to climate change and other disturbances such as fire. The Measure M2 NCCP/HCP will cover an estimated 22 plant and animal species, including coastal California gnatcatcher, Santa Ana sucker, pallid bat, and Coulter’s matilija poppy.

Placer County Conservation Plan HCP/NCCP. The project will support the completion of the Placer County Conservation Plan (PCCP). The primary objective of the PCCP is to balance development with conservation of the county’s natural resources and provide for protection of sensitive species and their respective habitats. The PCCP will permanently protect habitat, establish preserve designs, and establish management guidelines for the conservation and recovery of 31 sensitive species, including seven listed species such as California red-legged frog, conservancy fairy shrimp, and vernal pool tadpole shrimp.

Yuba and Sutter Counties Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP). This project will support the continued development of a multispecies HCP and NCCP in both Yuba and Sutter counties by protecting and enhancing the ecological diversity and function within the rapidly urbanizing region of Sutter County and the more slowly urbanizing region of Yuba County. This plan addresses 23 listed and non-listed species, including six federally listed species and ten state listed species. A few species that will benefit from this HCP include Hartweg’s golden sunburst, vernal pool fairy shrimp, vernal pool tadpole shrimp, giant garter snake, and the western yellow-billed cuckoo.

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan HCP/NCCP (Imperial, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Kern, and Inyo Counties). This project will support the initiation of a conservation strategy for covered natural communities and species in desert ecosystems, while allowing for the development of utility-scale renewable energy projects. It will exclusively address the environmental impacts of large-scale development of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass technologies, as well as associated transmission facilities proposed throughout the deserts in Southern California. Currently, the DRECP identifies 87 species to be covered under the plan. A few species that will benefit from this HCP include the Quino checkerspot butterfly, arroyo toad, California condor, and the desert tortoise.

Metropolitan Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP). This grant supports the development of a multi-species HCP and NCCP in order to conserve sensitive species and their habitats within the Metropolitan Bakersfield study area while allowing for the orderly and necessary progression of urban growth and development. This plan addresses 38 species of concern, including 15 state and federally listed threatened, endangered or fully protected species and the vegetation communities upon which they depend. These species include the Bakersfield cactus, kangaroo rat, San Joaquin woolly threads and the blunt-nosed leopard lizard.

Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD) Service HCP. This grant supports the development of an HCP for Sacramento Municipal Utilities (SMUD) by funding operations, maintenance, and construction actions on transmission and gas line corridors inside SMUD’s service area. The HCP will benefit 11 federally listed species and 12 California special status species, along with numerous non-listed species such as the California tiger salamander, vernal pool fairy shrimp, and slender orcutt grass. The HCP will include a comprehensive approach to avoid or reduce SMUD impacts to species and habitats and will include the preservation and management of a 1,800-acre preserve.

South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan. This grant funds the completion of the HCP document and will result in the permanent protection of over 48,000 additional acres of high-quality species habitat. The SSHCP will provide conservation benefits to seven federally endangered and threatened species, including the giant garter snake, California tiger salamander, valley elderberry longhorn beetle, vernal pool fairy shrimp, vernal pool tadpole shrimp, Sacramento orcutt grass, and slender orcutt grass.

The Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program provides funds to states to acquire habitat for endangered and threatened species with approved recovery plans. Projects to receive these grants include:

Endangered Insects and Plants of the Zayante Sandhills. This project will permanently protect and improve the management of up to 76 acres of Sandhills habitat that is naturally rare both due to its limited geographic range in the central Santa Cruz County and its Zayante coarse sand soil-type. This habitat is essential to the long-term recovery of four federally endangered species: the Mount Hermon June beetle, Zayante band-winged grasshopper, Ben Lomond wallflower, and Ben Lomond spineflower.

Five Species Ocean Meadows/Devereux Slough (Santa Barbara County). This project will acquire the 63-acre Ocean Meadows property to ensure the permanent protection of the federally endangered tidewater goby, California least tern, and Ventura marsh milk-vetch, as well as the federally threatened western snowy plover and California red-legged frog.

Land Acquisition Grant for the Federally Endangered Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander, King & Katz Properties. Acquisition of up to 100 acres will provide high-quality upland sheltering habitat that is within dispersal distance of several known and potential breeding ponds for the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander, a subspecies that exists in only a small, 25-square mile range located entirely within California’s Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. By acquiring lands that are slated for residential development, negative impacts on the salamander will be prevented.

Peninsular Bighorn Sheep (Riverside County). This acquisition will acquire and permanently protect highly developable habitat designated as critical habitat for the endangered peninsular bighorn sheep, habitat for the threatened desert tortoise, endangered triple-ribbed milk-vetch, and potential habitat for the endangered desert slender salamander. Land will be acquired in private in-holdings that are vulnerable to development in two separate areas, both within the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains National Monument boundary administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and along State Highway 74, adjacent to DFG’s Carrizo Canyon Ecological Reserve.

The Endangered Species Act provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife, and plants. The Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, please visit www.fws.gov/endangered/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq.

-FWS-