Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and San Diego Gas & Electric announced that they have completed a comprehensive update to a 1995 habitat conservation plan that addresses operations and maintenance across the utility’s 2.8-million-acre service area in Southern California, while providing conservation benefits to more than 40 endangered, threatened and rare species, including bald and golden eagles.
“The completion of this conservation plan amendment demonstrates the importance of our sustained partnership with SDG&E,” said Scott Sobiech, Field Supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Carlsbad Office. “It is more than fulfilling a permit requirement; it’s a commitment to conservation that is backed up by on-the-ground actions that will benefit our diverse species and habitats.”
"This marks a tremendous milestone in habitat conservation for our region. I am thrilled about the continuing collaboration between SDG&E and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect our region’s ecosystem," said SDG&E Chief Sustainability Officer Estela de Llanos. “The updated regional conservation plan expands protections for natural resources, as SDG&E undertakes critical climate adaptation and wildfire resiliency projects to protect public safety.”
Southern California is considered a biodiversity hotspot, with an array of unique species and habitats. For more than 20 years, the Service has been working with San Diego Gas & Electric to balance conservation of species and habitats while ensuring important projects can move forward to benefit the public.
Although the impacts anticipated to occur over the course of the entire life of the permit are small, estimated to be only at 820 acres, this comprehensive conservation strategy spans roughly more than 2 million acres in portions of Orange, western Riverside and San Diego counties.
The original conservation plan was approved in 1995 with a 55-year permit duration. The amended plan provides coverage for additional species that will benefit from conservation actions and compliments ongoing regional conservation planning for the remaining 27-years of the permit.
This plan continues with the latest amendment, which expands environmental protection efforts and focuses on biodiversity preservation. Covering 41 species, of wildlife and plants currently listed as threatened or endangered, the plan addresses immediate conservation needs.
The plan also provides protection for 11 additional wildlife and plants species not currently classified as threatened or endangered but acknowledged as potentially vulnerable in the future. The plan also incorporates an eagle conservation plan that outlines how Bald and Golden Eagles will be conserved in areas where SDG&E operates and maintains its system.
Additionally, this comprehensive plan builds on the company's long-standing history of resource conservation and wildfire safety. By reducing the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires, SDG&E creates ecologically rich spaces for natural resources to flourish. This dual-purpose strategy aligns with the broader goals of both environmental conservation and wildfire safety.
Under the Endangered Species Act, non-federal landowners can receive permits from the Service for projects that may result in take of listed species, if the landowner prepares a conservation plan that outlines actions to mitigate those impacts to species. The amended SDG&E habitat conservation plan is one of several landscape-scale conservation planning efforts undertaken by the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office across Southern California.
Additional details about the plan are available here.