The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has approved the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP). CDFW’s NCCP program takes a broad-based ecosystem approach to planning for the protection and perpetuation of biological diversity. It is the state-level complement to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s HCP program. The issuance of an NCCP permit ensures regional protection of plants, animals and their habitats, while allowing compatible and appropriate economic activity.
The Yolo HCP/NCCP is the 16th NCCP permit issued by CDFW since the original NCCP Act was created in 1991, and is the third NCCP approved in northern California. Altogether, the 16 permitted NCCPs will permanently conserve over one million acres in California. The Yolo HCP/NCCP alone will conserve more than 32,000 acres of habitat for 12 covered species, including Swainson’s hawk (state threatened), giant garter snake (state and federally threatened) and the tricolored blackbird (which the Fish and Game Commission recently voted to list as state threatened).
The Yolo HCP/NCCP is also the first NCCP to focus on conserving working landscapes (primarily agriculture) to meet species conservation needs. The approved HCP/NCCP will allow for streamlined species permitting at the local level by Yolo County, City of Davis, City of West Sacramento, City of Winters and City of Woodland for infrastructure and development activities that are consistent with the plan.
At its Nov. 19 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $11.5 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 12 funded projects will benefit fish and wildlife – including some endangered species – while others will provide the public with access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community. The state funds for all these projects come from initiatives approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:
An $846,200 grant to the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority, to acquire in fee approximately 2,838 acres of land in the City of Hemet in western Riverside County. The sources of these funds are a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition grant to the WCB and a WCB grant to the Authority.
A $1.8 million grant to the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District for a cooperative project with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the California Natural Resources Agency, to acquire in fee approximately 326 acres of wildlife habitat, including large areas of riparian and aquatic habitat, grasslands and oak woodlands near Simi Valley in Ventura County.
A $730,000 grant to the Inyo and Mono Counties Agricultural Commissioner’s Office for a cooperative project with U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), to control invasive perennial pepperweed on approximately 14 acres. This will enhance native habitat on approximately 10,000 acres of publicly owned land that is jointly managed by BLM, DWP and CDFW, north of Bishop, in Inyo and Mono counties.
Dr. Brenda Johnson, Habitat Conservation Planning, (916) 653-0835
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420
The Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) Act of 2003 is 10
years old and the organizations that make it work commend its value and effectiveness. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and its partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and members of the California Habitat Conservation Planning Coalition, celebrate what they have accomplished since the Legislature passed the NCCP Act of 2003.
This environmental act is the only state law in the nation designed to actively protect ecosystems using a science-based, stakeholder-driven approach. Natural Community Conservation Plans balance the conservation and long-term management of diverse plant and animal species with compatible, economically beneficial land uses.
“These plans create ‘win-win’ situations by permanently protecting vast regions of habitat while streamlining the permitting process for carefully sited development and infrastructure projects,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “They also ensure the process is open to public input.”
To date, nine large, regional plans have been approved through the CDFW NCCP Program. Together they will permanently protect more than two million acres of wildlife habitat. More than one million acres have already been protected in reserves. Seventeen other plans that will protect millions of additional acres of habitat are now being prepared. These 26 plans specifically identify more than 700 species of plants and animals, and many unique natural communities, for conservation in perpetuity. CDFW has helped direct more than $254 million in federal funds to NCCP reserve land acquisition and more than $27 million for plan preparation. California has also provided nearly $12 million to help local organizations and agencies implement approved plans.