Habitat Conservation Plans

Habitat Conservation Plans are designed to conserve and protect federally listed and unlisted species while allowing for changes or alterations to wildlife habitats. They are developed by any non-federal landowner in cooperation with the Service when certain project activities may result in the take of a listed species. HCPs are planning documents and required in order to be covered for take.

Through the Conservation Planning program and Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act, HCPs simplify the permitting process, save time and money, and provide better protection by planning for entire landscapes rather than smaller project-by-project consultations.

Many HCPs within Carlsbad's area of responsibility are regional HCPs covering multiple habitats and numerous species over a large geographic area, often with many permittees. These landscape-scale HCPs help communities plan for land use activities while protecting habitat and promoting species conservation. Additionally, they help facilitate partnerships and provide solutions needed to achieve long-term biological and regulatory goals. Species benefit through permanent protection and management of their habitat. Because HCPs are designed to balance urban development with wildlife and habitat conservation, HCPs benefit both the landowner and species and are an effective conservation tool. These plans generally include federally listed and non-listed species as well as plants. Below is a map showing completed landscape-scale HCPs within the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office's area of responsibility.

Information for Planning and Consultation ( IPaC IPaC
Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC) is a project planning tool that streamlines the USFWS environmental review process

Learn more about IPaC

A tool designed to assist all people in accessing natural resource information when planning their project activities may be found on the Service's Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC) site - https://ecos.fws.gov/ipac/. This system helps project proponents increase the compatibility of their activities with the conservation of Service trust resources regardless of whether they will be implemented within or outside of the ESA arena.

Additional information

Read some of our HCP Fact Sheets below. Please contact Public Affairs to request a copy of a particular HCP.

An HCP with a permanently funded 1,557-acre native habitat preserve supports the Santa Ana River woolly-star, among other species.
Conservation banks maintain large reserves of land to ensure ecosystem functions, foster biodiversity and provide opportunities for linking existing habitat for species like the burrowing owl.

Conservation Banks

Conservation banks are large pieces of land that are permanently protected and managed for endangered, threatened or at-risk species. Conservation banks function to offset adverse impacts to these species that occurred elsewhere. This is better known as off-site mitigation.

We work closely with conservation bank owners to ensure the habitat is permanently conserved and managed. When a conservation bank is approved, the Service authorizes a specified number of habitat or species “credits” that bank owners may sell to developers or other project proponents to mitigate for the impacts resulting from their projects. Bank owners contribute a portion of the sale to an endowment that provides money for the management and protection of the bank property in perpetuity.

Inter-agency Consultations

Federal agencies are required to consult with the Service under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act when federal projects may result in take of a listed species or damage to its critical habitat. Each year we complete hundreds of formal and informal consultations with other federal government agencies, keeping project timelines on-track, and wildlife and habitat protected.  

Safe Harbor Agreements

A Safe Harbor Agreement covering 467 acres of private land was completed for the reintroduction of the endangered Amargosa vole.

Safe Harbor Agreements are voluntary agreements between the Service and cooperating non-federal landowners. In exchange for landowner activities that result in a net conservation benefit to listed species, such as habitat restoration activities, special management practices, or reintroductions, Safe Harbor Agreements provide landowners with an enhancement of survival permit or 10 (a)(1)(A) permit and assurances that their covered activities will not be constrained by or result in additional Endangered Species Act restrictions. The enhancement of survival permit we issue authorizes the landowner, if while conducting covered activities, to incidentally take listed species included in the agreement. The permit also authorizes the landowner to return to established baseline conditions at the end of the agreement period. Covered activities in Safe Harbor Agreements vary and some examples include on-going ranching operations, routine installation of equipment, maintenance of created or existing ponds, and on-going land uses such as farming.

For more information about Safe Harbor Agreements, visit https://www.fws.gov/service/safe-harbor-agreements.