News Release

Plan Proposed to Reduce Time for Development Projects and Help Recover Endangered Species in Butte County

Public Input Sought at Three Meetings in January

November 18, 2015

Media Contacts:
Sarah Swenty, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, (916)414-6606, sarah_swenty@fws.gov

Sacramento - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking public input on a plan to proactively address long-term conservation needs, maintain local control over land use and provide flexibility to meet economic growth initiatives in Butte County, California. Developed by the Butte County Association of Governments (BCAG), the plan is to replace the current project-by-project environmental and wetland permitting programs with an alternative that is smarter, faster and results in better resource conservation.

The proposed Butte Regional Conservation Plan (BRCP) will serve as a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the federal Endangered Species Act, and a Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) under the California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act. It proposes to include land development impacts to imperiled species on approximately 25,000 acres within a 564,203-acre area of Butte County, California. It also proposes a 90,000-acre reserve system, made up mostly of conservation easements with willing landowners, to protect 38 imperiled plant and animal species.

Public comment is also sought on a joint federal and state environmental impact statement and report. The joint document describes the existing environment that could be affected by the BRCP and the underlying purpose and need of it. It also includes expected effects of the plan on the human environment and considers a range of alternatives.

This announcement opens a 90-day comment period on this notice and the proposed BRCP that will close February 16, 2016. There will be three public workshops, identical in format and content, to explain the plan:

  1. January 25, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Chico Masonic Center, 1110 W. East Ave, Chico, California.
  2. January 26, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., Southside Oroville Community Center, 2959 Lower Wyandotte Rd, Oroville, California.
  3. January 26, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Gridley City Council Chambers, 85 Kentucky St., Gridley, California.

Written comments will be taken at the workshops or can be sent by U.S. Mail or facsimile to:
Rick Kuyper, Endangered Species Program
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office
2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605
Sacramento, California 95825
Fax: (916) 414-6713

America's fish, wildlife, and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species a shared responsibility. Together with the local community, the state and federal agencies are working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species.

Of the 38 species covered in the BRCP, there are nine federally listed wildlife species including: Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, threatened green sturgeon, Valley elderberry longhorn beetle, vernal pool tadpole shrimp, endangered conservancy fairy shrimp, vernal pool fairy shrimp and the giant garter snake. Five listed plant species also included are: the Hoover’s spurge, Butte County meadowfoam, hairy Orcutt grass, slender Orcutt grass, and Greene’s tuctoria.

HCPs proactively address long-term conservation needs, maintain local control over land use and provide flexibility to meet economic growth initiatives. Projects will be able to receive permit coverage locally for effects to species or habitats under the jurisdiction of the Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The BRCP was developed in coordination with the development of general plans for Butte County, Chico, Oroville, Gridley, and Biggs.

For more information on the 30 year history of HCPs in California, read Habitat Conservation Plans: Good for Wildlife - Good for People.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/cno. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.