Al Donner 916/414-6566
A unique and creative Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to offset small-scale environmental impacts throughout the San Joaquin Valley of Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s (PG&E) widely dispersed operations has been completed with the delivery of a permit by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to the major public utility.
The plan is unique in that it addresses small-scale impacts of specific activities over a very large geographical area. PG&E’s HCP defines measures to minimize, avoid and compensate for the effects of the utility’s operations and maintenance activities—largely utility corridors--on 65 native plants, animals, and their habitats in portions of nine counties -- San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Fresno, Kings, Kern, Mariposa, Madera, and Tulare counties.
Most HCPs covers smaller areas. HCPs are commitments to protect and help rare species. They are developed by local or non-governmental interests, in cooperation with the Service. The plans simplify permitting under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and they provide better protection by planning for entire landscapes than project-by-project consultations. HCPs usually also protect numerous imperiled species that are not yet covered under ESA.
The PG&E Operations and Maintenance HCP for the San Joaquin Valley establishes offsets for the environmental impacts of PG&E’s routine minor construction, operations, and maintenance on its gas and electrical distribution facilities within the nine counties. The plan estimates that about 43 acres a year will be impacted. In the HCP, PG&E commits to compensate with three acres of habitat for every one acre of habitat that is lost.
“PG&E’s regional mitigation plan is a creative and responsible corporate approach to protecting imperiled species,” according to Susan Moore, Field Supervisor in the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office.
The HCP will cover possible impacts to 23 animals and 42 plants, including 31 species listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Some of the species in the HCP are: the California red-legged frog, the vernal pool tadpole shrimp, the Buena Vista Lake shrew, the riparian brush rabbit, the Tipton kangaroo rat, the San Joaquin kit fox, Keck’s checkerbloom, the Kern mallow, and the California jewelflower.
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.