Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Interim Habitat Conservation Plan Approved for Landowners in Santa Cruz County, Calif.

Nov 01, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 1, 2011

Contact: Lois Grunwald, (805) 644-1766, ext 332


Interim Habitat Conservation Plan Approved for Landowners in Santa Cruz County, Calif.

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today that it has approved an interim programmatic habitat conservation plan (Plan) for small development projects in dense residential areas of Santa Cruz County, California.

The Plan supports the issuance of two incidental take permits requested by Santa Cruz County and the city of Scotts Valley for impacts to the federally endangered Mount Hermon June beetle and Ben Lomond spineflower. The Plan streamlines the permit process for private landowners in residential neighborhoods where these two species and other rare species inhabit the Zayante Sandhills.

Under the Plan, Santa Cruz County and the city of Scotts Valley can extend incidental take coverage to landowners who propose to build small single family dwellings, add on a garage, or implement other small projects in the habitat of the two species within the communities of Ben Lomond, Felton, Mount Hermon, and Scotts Valley. The Plan requires that no more than 139 acres be developed.

The Plan requires landowners to take avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures to help compensate for impacts of their projects on the two species. For mitigation, landowners may also purchase conservation credits at approved conservation banks such as the Zayante Sandhills Conservation Bank.

Protective measures in the Plan include minimizing construction-related ground disturbance from May 15 to August 15, which is the growing season of the Ben Lomond spineflower and the time period when adult Mount Hermon June beetles are in flight, minimizing exterior night lighting during that same period, avoiding impacts to native Sandhills plants, and minimizing landscaping that degrades habitat.
Application for an incidental take permit requires preparation of a habitat conservation plan (HCP) by the permit applicant. In general, an HCP outlines ways to maintain, enhance, and protect the habitat of species.  

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), an incidental take permit can be issued to private parties undertaking otherwise lawful projects that might result in the take of an endangered or threatened species. The term 'take' means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.

The Zayante Sandhills are a unique community of animals and plants found only on outcrops of Zayante sand soil. In certain areas, the Sandhills consist of sparse stands of ponderosa pines with an understory of native wildflowers. Sand quarrying and development have fragmented Sandhills habitat, which once totaled more than 6,000 acres.

The ESA provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. This landmark conservation law has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation and promoted the recovery of many others.

--FWS--

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/cno. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/usfwspacificsouthwest, follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/USFWSPacSWest, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw/