Press Release
Draft Azalea Hybrid Power Park Categorical Exclusion and Habitat Conservation Plan available for Public Review
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the availability of a draft Categorical Exclusion and draft habitat conservation plan (HCP) for the Azalea Hybrid Power Project in Kern County, California.

The draft HCP, prepared by SF Azalea, LLC, covers activities associated with the site preparation, infrastructure development, construction, and decommissioning of a 60-megawatt (MW) solar facility located on 560 acres of grassland. The draft HCP also covers activities related to the management of a 210-acre conservation easement conservation easement
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a government agency or qualified conservation organization that restricts the type and amount of development that may take place on a property in the future. Conservation easements aim to protect habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife by limiting residential, industrial or commercial development. Contracts may prohibit alteration of the natural topography, conversion of native grassland to cropland, drainage of wetland and establishment of game farms. Easement land remains in private ownership.

Learn more about conservation easement
area in Kings County. If finalized, the permit would extend over a 35-year term.

Using the best available science, the Service reviewed the draft HCP and analyzed the potential impacts of the project’s activities on the San Joaquin kit fox and giant kangaroo rat. Both species have been documented within the proposed development area. The draft HCP includes strategies to avoid, minimize and offset impacts of the proposed activities on these species such as installing fencing that allows the passage of kit foxes but not larger predators, allowing native plant growth to occur between solar arrays, and minimizing light at night. To mitigate for the project’s impact on these species, the draft HCP proposes to permanently conserve 210 acres of grassland habitat on private lands occupied by San Joaquin kit foxes and giant kangaroo rats in Kings County. 
“As America develops its renewable energy infrastructure, habitat conservation plans can be used to reduce project impacts to species protected by the Endangered Species Act,” said Michael Fris, field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. “By conserving habitat and conducting construction activities in a way that considers the needs of listed and at-risk species, our partners can contribute to their recovery.”

The draft HCP was prepared by SF Azalea, LLC, 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.

A 30-day public comment period is currently open on the draft HCP. The comment period will close on June 12, 2024. The Federal Register notice, draft HCP, and draft Categorical Exclusion are available at by searching for Docket Number FWS-R8-ES-2024-0046

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