News Release

Public Comment Sought in Proposed Plan to Recover Endangered Species and Streamline Permit Process for Development Projects in Kern County

January 11, 2017

Media Contact:
Veronica Davison, External Affairs, Phone: (916) 414-6671, Email: veronica_davison@fws.gov

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), city of Bakersfield, and Kern County are working together to preserve endangered species and streamline the process for securing development permits. This effort entails assessing the environmental impacts of development, operations and maintenance, and conservation management activities within 2,259,627 acres in the city of Bakersfield and western Kern County, California. This is essential for creating the proposed Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan (BHCP), which outlines strategies to avoid, minimize, and offset potential indirect effects to 14 imperiled plant and animal species anticipated over the next 30 years.

This announcement is a formal Notice of Intent that opens a 45-day comment period on the proposed BHCP that ends February 21, 2017. A scoping meeting will be held Tuesday, January 24, 2017 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the 3rd floor conference room at the City of Bakersfield Community Development Department, 1715 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield, CA 93301. The meeting will allow the public to provide written input on the scope and content of the environmental impact documents for the BHCP.

The BHCP 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. HCPs and NCCPs are federal and state plans that allow for a streamlined permitting process because conservation measures are outlined, agreed upon, and implemented on a landscape scale that is most beneficial for the species involved and humans.

With the proposed BHCP, the city of Bakersfield; Kern County; California State University, Bakersfield; Bakersfield College; and individual school districts seek an incidental take permit for direct, indirect, and cumulative effects to covered species within approximately 2,259,627 acres of land that provide suitable breeding, foraging, or movement habitat to the 14 HCP covered species under the jurisdiction of the applicants. To offset the project’s effects to these species, the BHCP proposes avoidance and minimization measures, and will establish a fully funded reserve system protected in perpetuity with management and monitoring of high-quality breeding, foraging, and movement habitat to benefit the BHCP’s covered species.

Before those plans can be completed, an environmental impact statement and report must be prepared in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. They will describe the underlying purpose and need of the BHCP–for the Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to issue permits to the permit applicants, include an analysis of the effects of implementation of the BHCP on the human environment, consider and evaluate a range of alternatives, and describe the existing environment that could be affected by approval and implementation.

Conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats is a shared responsibility that benefits threatened and endangered species and the American people. Federal and state agencies are actively working with local communities to engage conservation partners and the public to identify improved and innovative approaches to conservation and recovery.

Comments can be sent by U.S. mail or facsimile to:
Patricia Cole
San Joaquin Valley Division
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605
Sacramento, California 95825
916-414-6713 (fax)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/Sacramento. Connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.