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Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (Services) have jointly revised the 1996 Habitat Conservation Planning (HCP) Handbook. The HCP program has evolved substantially over the past 30 years, and requires updated guidance for those developing, reviewing, and implementing HCPs. 

The Wisconsin Statewide Habitat Conservation Plan was developed for the conservation of the endangered Karner blue butterfly. Photo credit: Credit Joel Trick, USFWS.

The goals of the revised Handbook are to: (1) provide clear, consistent, and updated guidance concerning HCP planning and implementation for Services’ staff; (2) streamline and create efficiencies in the HCP development and permitting processes, (3) provide greater conservation benefits to listed species, (4) inspire conservation possibilities associated with HCPs that contribute to listed species recovery, resiliency, and responses to climate change, (5) improve compliance and effectiveness monitoring, and (6) create a user-friendly, living document.

Notable differences between the 1996 and revised HCP Handbook include the following:

  • Reorganizes the HCP Handbook to follow the steps necessary for Services’ staff to assist applicants in the development of their HCP, processing the incidental take permit application, and conducting compliance and effectiveness monitoring;
  • Emphasizes concurrent consideration and development of environmental compliance documents(e.g.: National Environmental Policy Act , National Historic Preservation Act, Endangered Species Act intra-service section 7 consultation);
  • Clarifies the HCP planning process and key concepts;
  • Incorporates climate change considerations throughout the HCP planning process.

View the revised Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook [3.2MB] [December 2016] New or by chapters New
Access the HCP Handbook toolbox New


Last updated: December 20, 2016