Additional funding provided from a federal grant.
This article was written by Arielle Goodspeed, Senior Planner, Resource Management Agency
San Benito County, in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, initiated the process of planning and developing a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and a county-wide Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP), called the San Benito County Conservation Plan (SBCCP). The San Benito County 2035 General Plan includes a policy identified under NCR-A: habitat conservation plan; “The county will consider working with state and federal agencies to prepare and adopt a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for listed and candidate species in San Benito County.”
The SBC Supervisory Board passed Order 541 on August 1, 1988, establishing a habitat conservation plan study area and setting interim mitigation fees. Since 1988, the county has collected an Order 541 fee in preparation for an HCP and now, between the fees already collected and the additional funding expected from a federal grant (pending), county staff are able to begin work to implement Ordinance 541 and General Plan 2035. County residents can expect to see this effort add value to the community as a whole. There are many advantages to setting up HCP / NCCP, including:
- Streamlined endangered species authorization process for projects
- Provide the necessary agency licenses
- Increased local control
- Improved mitigation and conservation outcomes for listed and sensitive species
- Create a new open space
- Create new hobbies
- Protects watersheds
- Protects fields of vision
- Implements local policies
- Mitigate withdrawals that will prevent new species listings
- Protects species from the effects of climate change
- County and residents become eligible for HCP land acquisition program
- Attract new funds for conservation
As part of the county planning and development for the San Benito County Conservation Plan, there will be extensive public and stakeholder outreach to ensure residents and stakeholders, including stakeholders Agricultural stakeholders, developer stakeholders, tribal stakeholders and environmental stakeholders, have multiple opportunities to provide feedback and help shape the plan. The county hopes to know before the end of the summer whether it will receive grants to start working on this effort.
At this time, county staff would like to present the San Benito County Conservation Plan and let you know that we will be back later this year, if we receive federal funding, to provide more detailed information. We look forward to hearing your thoughts, interests and concerns. The county will also update our website to keep stakeholders up to date with the process by clicking on this link.
The county has formed an ADHOC committee and will post scheduled meetings on the website for all interested (including limited in-person attendance, per current COVID-19 guidelines). The second meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 2 at 4 p.m. The aim of the ADHOC committee is to educate the local community on the benefits of pursuing SBCCP and to provide a means for community members to participate in the planning and development process of the SBCCP plan. The county will appoint representatives from members of the public to sit on the ADHOC committee. Representatives of members of the public would be required to attend four ADHOC meetings per year, help to be an information channel for the general public, help represent the interests and concerns of stakeholders and to participate in the development of additional plans. For anyone interested, please contact Arielle Goodspeed, whose contact details are provided below, and attend the next ADHOC meeting in August to be nominated.
For more information, please contact Arielle Goodspeed, Senior Planner, San Benito County Resource Management Agency, [email protected] / 831-902-2547.