Overview & History
The Basics of Habitat Conservation Plans
Regional Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) establish a coordinated process for permitting and mitigating the incidental take of endangered species. This process creates an alternative to the current project-by-project approach. Rather than individually surveying, negotiating, and securing mitigation and permit coverage, project proponents typically receive an endangered species permit by paying a fee/dedicating land and performing limited surveys and avoidance measures. The fees are collected by an implementation authority defined during development of the HCP, often a Joint Powers Authority, such as the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy, which is governed by representatives of local agencies.
The implementation authority uses the fee money, as well as grants and any other funding sources established in the plan, to purchase habitat lands or easements from willing sellers. Collected funds are also used for monitoring and any habitat enhancement or management actions.
Overview of the East Contra Costa County HCP/NCCP
The East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan / Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP or "Plan") is intended to provide regional conservation and development guidelines to protect natural resources while improving and streamlining the permit process for endangered species and wetland regulations.
The Plan was developed by a team of scientists and planners with input from independent panels of science reviewers and stakeholders. Within the 174,018 acre inventory area, the Plan will provide permits for between 8,670 and 11,853 acres of development and will permit impacts on an additional 1,126 acres from rural infrastructure projects. The Preserve System to be acquired under the Plan will encompass 23,800 to 30,300 acres of land that will be managed for the benefit of 28 species as well as the natural communities that they, and hundreds of other species, depend upon. By proactively addressing the long-term conservation needs, the Plan strengthens local control over land use and provides greater flexibility in meeting other needs such as housing, transportation, and economic growth in the area (see HCP/NCCP Overview Booklet (PDF) and presentation overview (PDF) for more information).
History of the East Contra Costa County HCP/NCCP
- On March 18, 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) sent a letter to local government agencies urging that a regional Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) be developed for Eastern Contra Costa County.
- On June 30, 2000, the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan Association Agreement went into effect. This agreement established the East Contra Costa Habitat Conservation Plan Association (HCPA), a joint exercise of powers authority formed by the Cities of Brentwood, Clayton, Oakley and Pittsburg, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa Water District and the East Bay Regional Park District. The HCPA was the lead agency in drafting the Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP) for submittal to the governing boards and councils of member agencies and was the lead agency under CEQA for developing the HCP. The HCPA was governed by an Executive Governing Committee consisting of elected officials from each member agency.
- In the fall of 2001, a consulting team consisting of Jones and Stokes, Resources Law Group and Economic and Planning Systems was chosen to help prepare the HCP/NCCP.
- In the spring of 2002, the HCPA Coordination Group, a committee of stakeholders and staff, began to convene monthly meetings to advise the Executive Governing Committee on the development of the HCP/NCCP.
- In spring of 2002, a Preliminary Draft Resources Inventory was released for public review.
- Also in the spring of 2002, a Science Advisory panel was formed to provide independent scientific guidance on the development of the HCP/NCCP. The Science advisory Panel met four times between May of 2002 and December of 2003.
- In January of 2003, a Preliminary Draft Conservation Strategy and Alternatives and a Preliminary Impact Analysis were released for public review.
- In the fall of 2003, a Draft Planning Agreement with the California Department of Fish and Game was circulated for public review and signed.
- In October of 2004, a Draft Aquatic Resources Inventory, Classification, and Function for East Contra Costa County HCP/NCCP Inventory Area was released for public review. The final version of this document is in Appendix J of the Final HCP/NCCP.
- In June of 2005, the Draft HCP/NCCP and Draft EIR/EIS were released for public review. The official comment period ended on December 1, 2005.
- In October of 2006, the Final HCP/NCCP and Final EIR/EIS were released.
- On November 8, 2006, the HCPA Executive Governing Committee certified the EIR and approved the Final HCP/NCCP for submittal to the governing boards of local agencies.
- Between December 2006 and April 2007, the Final HCP/NCCP, the Implementing Agreement and the joint exercise of powers agreement to form the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy were approved by the Cities of Brentwood, Clayton, Oakley, and Pittsburg and Contra Costa County. The Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District and the East Bay Regional Park District also approved the HCP/NCCP and the implementing Agreement.
- On May 9, 2007, the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy approved the HCP/NCCP and Implementing Agreement.
- Between July 24, 2007 and August 6, 2007, the California Department of Fish and Game and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service approved the HCP/NCCP, approved the Implementing Agreement and issued regional permits to the local agency permittees.
- In October and November of 2007, the Cities of Brentwood, Clayton, Oakley, and Pittsburg and Contra Costa County approved ordinances to require future development projects to comply with the HCP/NCCP. The Ordinances take effect in all four cities and the County between January 15 and January 18, 2008.
Please see Chapter 1 of the Final HCP/NCCP for more detailed information on the background of the Plan. A detailed list of approval dates (PDF) is also available.