News Release

Notice of Availability for the Draft Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan

December 17, 2010

Contact:

Sarah Swenty, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
(916) 414-6571, sarah_swenty@fws.gov

A 120-day public comment period begins today, December 17, 2010, for the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (Plan). The comment period will close on April 18, 2011. Two public meetings will be held in February, where the public may provide information, written comments, or ask questions about the Plan.

The Notice of Availability (NOA) informs the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) received applications from the County of Santa Clara; Cities of San Jose, Gilroy, and Morgan Hill; Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and Santa Clara Valley Water District (Applicants) pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. The applications include the Draft Plan, Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), and Draft Implementing Agreement (IA).

The Applicants are requesting a 50-year Section 10(a)(1)(b) incidental take permit because 21 proposed Covered Species, including 11 animal species and 10 plant species, could be affected by development, operations and maintenance, and reserve management activities within the proposed 509,883-acre permit area, located in the Santa Clara Valley, California. Twelve of the 21 species proposed for coverage under the Plan are currently unlisted species but are included in the Plan to help preclude the need for future listing. Some of the species proposed for coverage under the Plan are the Bay checkerspot butterfly, California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, western burrowing owl, least Bell’s vireo, Coyote ceanothus, Santa Clara Valley dudleya, and most beautiful jewelflower. If approved, the Plan would streamline the process for future incidental take authorization of Covered Species.

Covered Activities proposed in the Plan would result in the permanent loss of up to 25,864 acres. Effects resulting from Covered Activities would be offset with a conservation strategy consisting of avoidance, minimization, mitigation, and recovery actions. The Applicants propose to permanently protect, manage, and monitor approximately 58,000 acres of high quality habitat in the Plan’s Reserve System. Conditions on covered activities would further minimize effects on Covered Species.

Two public meetings will be held, where the public may provide information, written comments, or ask questions about the Plan.

The first public meeting will be held on February 9, 2011 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, El Toro Room, located at 17000 Monterey Road, Morgan Hill, California 95037. A second public meeting will be held on February 15, 2011 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Peninsula Conservation Center, Raptor Room, located at 3921 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, California 94303.

The NOA initiates a 120-day comment period, which will close on April 18, 2011.
Electronic files of the Draft Plan, EIR/EIS, and IA are available at
http://www.scv-habitatplan.org/www/default.aspx
.

The Federal Register notice is available at:
http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-31425.pdf
.

Hard copies of these documents are available for review at the Service’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office and the seven area libraries listed in the NOA.

In addition to attending and commenting at the two public meetings to be held in February, the public may also mail comments to Cori Mustin, Senior Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, California 95825; FAX (916) 414-6713; or email R8SCVHPcomments@fws.gov.

**Photos of the Bay checkerspot butterfly (an endangered species to benefit from the successful implementation of the Santa Clara Habitat Conservation Plan) and Coyote Valley are available on our Flickr page and available for download by the media with Photo Credit given to USFWS.

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