Press Release
Sacramento Municipal Utility District Draft Environmental Assessment and Habitat Conservation Plan Available for Public Review

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the availability of a draft Environmental Assessment and draft Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).

The draft HCP covers future operations, maintenance and minor construction associated with utility services provided by SMUD that may impact seven federally listed species. The 577,554-acre permit area covers activities throughout Sacramento County and small portions of Yolo, Placer and San Joaquin counties. The permit is valid for a 30-year term. If finalized, the HCP will streamline the utility’s implementation of routine maintenance activities by replacing the project-by-project consultation model that SMUD and the Service currently operate under while conserving habitat for threatened and endangered species.
The draft HCP proposes strategies to avoid, minimize and offset potential impacts of the proposed activities to California tiger salamander, giant garter snake, Sacramento Orcutt grass, slender Orcutt grass, valley elderberry longhorn beetle, vernal pool fairy shrimp and vernal pool tadpole shrimp. The applicant proposed to purchase credits from conservation and mitigation banks to account for impacts, as well as introduce or improve populations of both Orcutt grass species at the SMUD Nature Preserve Mitigation Bank.

“Habitat conservation plans are a tool that can be used by utility companies in partnership with the Service to balance routine operations and maintenance work with the needs of listed and at-risk species in the project footprint,” said Michael Fris, field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. “Our partners can contribute to the recovery of listed and at-risk species by conserving key habitats and taking steps to limit the impacts of their work on the landscape.”

The draft HCP was prepared by SMUD to support its application for an incidental take permit. HCPs are voluntary agreements that ensure the effects of non-federal activities on threatened and endangered species are adequately minimized or mitigated, per Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act. The Service regularly engages conservation partners, the public, landowners, government agencies and other stakeholders in its ongoing effort to identify innovative strategies for conserving and recovering at-risk species.

This announcement opens a 30-day public comment period on the draft HCP. The Federal Register notice, draft HCP, and draft Environmental Assessment will be available from December 29, 2023 at by searching for Docket Number FWS-R8-ES-2023-0191-0001. The comment period will close on January 29, 2024.