Al Donner, Sacramento Fish & Wildlife Office (916) 414-6566
A 45-day public comment period opened Thursday for a comprehensive Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (Plan) being developed to protect substantial areas of important habitat in Santa Clara County.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published notice in the Federal Register of its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/EIR) for the Plan. Comments must be submitted by Oct. 22, 2007.
The public scoping meeting will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the El Toro Room at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, 17000 Monterey Road, Morgan Hill, CA 95037. The scoping meeting will be combined with a pre-scheduled community meeting for the Plan.
The Plan will cover possible impacts to 15 animals and 15 plants, some of which are formally protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) or under state law. Unlisted species are included to help them before they need protection of the ESA. Some of the species proposed for coverage under the Plan are: the California red-legged frog, the bay checkerspot butterfly, the California tiger salamander, two species of steelhead, the fall-run Chinook salmon, and the San Joaquin kit fox.
An HCP/NCCP addresses a broad vision of species needs over a large area, voluntarily developed by local agencies and interests, with the support of federal and state agencies. Land owners and environmental interests are among the interests participating. When completed, the plan would result in federal and state agencies issuing permits to allow activities compatible with the plan, simplifying landowner use of their property. In exchange the plan will allow protection of larger areas of habitat that make sense environmentally, either through outright purchase or easements, all from willing landowners.
The Plan is being prepared locally by eight agencies: Santa Clara County; the cities of San Jose, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy; the Santa Clara Valley Water District; the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority; the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority; and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Coordination is provided by the Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service.
Comments may be submitted by Oct. 22, 2007 to: Lori Rinek, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, SFWO, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. More information is in the Sept. 6, 2007 Federal Register at: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20071800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/pdf/E7-17588.pdf
For more information about the developing HCP/NCCP, please visit http://www.scv-habitatplan.org/www/default.aspx
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 547 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.