U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Sacramento Fish & Wildlife OfficeServing the people, conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of California

A Unit Of The Pacific Southwest Region

Habitat Conservation Plans

Group Photo celebrating the signing in Nover 2017

The Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company celebrated the signing of the “PG&E Bay Area Habitat Conservation Plan Operations and Maintenance” in November 2017. The HCP is a result of the successful partnership between the Service and PG&E to ensure the needs of communities throughout the Bay Area and local wildlife are met.

Conservation of wildlife and open spaces does not have to be in conflict with economic growth and development. Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) provide a pathway forward to balance wildlife conservation with development. The primary objective of the HCP program is to conserve species and the ecosystems they depend on while streamlining permitting for economic development.

Provided for by the Endangered Species Act, "regional" HCPs (such as teh East Contra Costa HCP/NCCP and the Santa Clara Valley HCP/NCCP) are a successful conservation tool because they can anticipate, prevent, and resolve controversies and conflict associated with project-by-project permitting. They do this by addressing these issues on a large regional scale, collaboratively and over the long term.

Working with landowners, local communities, the State, environmental organizations, and other interested parties, regional HCPs have shown that we don’t need to choose between protection of our wildlife and economic development – we can do both.

Harming Listed Species. Endangered and threatened species often occur on non-Federal land. (Private, corporate, state, local or tribal) Otherwise-lawful activities on this land can harm protected species or their habitat. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) calls that harm take and prohibits it.

HCPs are planning documents prepared by non-federal parties as part of an application for an incidental take permit. An HCP includes:

  1. An assessment of the likely impacts on protected species
  2. Measures that will be taken to minimize and mitigate for impacts
  3. An analysis of alternatives not chosen
  4. Funding assurances
  5. Measures that will be taken to monitor and manage species and their habitats

If the application and the HCP meet all regulatory requirements, we issue an incidental take permit. This allows the party to legally proceed with an activity that otherwise would result in unlawful take of a protected species.

Conservation Plans and Strategies

There are instances where developing an HCP is unnecessary because of the relatively low level of planned development that would typically justify the need for and adequately fund a regional HCP. Our office has worked with the local communities of East Alameda, Santa Rosa and Suisun to develop long-term programs intended to mitigate adverse impacts on protected species in balance with the needs of the communities affected.

Where to Start?

Contact the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, Conservation, Planning and Recovery Division to determine whether a contemplated activity is likely to require an incidental take permit and to begin the application process. (916) 414-6678 (Ask for the HCP coordinator)

Some Major HCPs Within Our Jurisdiction


HCP Name & Permit Holder Link Documents
East Contra Costa Final Plan Documents
Metropolitan Bakersfield
Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan
PG&E Bay Area Habitat Conservation Plan Operations and Maintenance
San Bruno Mountain Habitat Conservation Plan
San Joaquin County Multi-Species Habitat Conservation and Open Space Plan
Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan Final Habitat Plans
South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan
Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan Plan Documents

Regional HCPs Under Development

HCP Name & Permit Holder Link Draft Plan
Butte County
Placer County Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan Conservation Plan
Solano Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan Conservation Plan
Yuba-Sutter Regional Conservation Plan

For a complete list of HCPs across the country, visit our national Conservation Plans & Agreements Database.

Last updated: July 31, 2019