January 01, 2015

The Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan: Looking Forward After Ten Years

Michelle Ouellette and Charles Landry

The Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP or Plan) just turned ten years old. In 2004, when the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) issued incidental take permits for a Plan that covers 146 endangered, threatened, and sensitive species, as described in more detail below, the Plan was the largest habitat conservation plan ever approved. In the last decade, the HCP has been very successful, conserving nearly 400,000 acres of habitat while allowing residential, commercial, and infrastructure development to proceed, often more quickly than without the Plan in place. However, some obstacles have arisen to Plan implementation. As described below, these have included uncertainty related to the “No Surprises” policy and rule (and FWS’s views and implementation of the same).

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