Habitat Plan Amendment
Since 2013, the Habitat Agency has been managing and implementing the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan (Plan). Through careful oversight of covered projects, efficient use of fees and grants to advance the Conservation Strategy, and detailed annual reporting to the Wildlife Agencies and our Boards, the Habitat Agency has been successful in meeting the early goals and objectives of the Plan. This is particularly true for land acquisition and restoration activities achieved to date. However, continued success of the Plan means that some components of the Plan must be adjusted or revised periodically. For example, impacts are approaching take limits for a few Plan-covered species and their habitats. These take limits can only be adjusted through a formal amendment to the Plan.
The Plan also does not cover all special status species within the permit area as some species like Swainson’s hawk are expanding their range into the Plan area, while other resident species (mountain lion and western monarch) are now candidates for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act or the California Endangered Species Act. For the Habitat Plan to remain useful and effective, it must adapt, and new species must be added for coverage. Otherwise, project proponents will have to revert to the regulatory process in place prior to the Plan whereby some species and habitats are covered, and some are not. Individual project consultation with regulatory agencies and additional mitigation would become necessary if new listed species are not extended coverage under the Plan.
The first ten years of Plan implementation have required several modifications, clarifications, and interpretations to clear the administrative record and strengthen policy. A re-write of some Plan sections would make it easier to understand for new staff members of the co-permittee agencies who help administer the Plan. Also, the early success of the Plan has led to discussions about whether more of the land within Santa Clara County should be covered for impacts and/or considered for enrollment in the growing Reserve System of land. All these issues, plus several more detailed in a summary at the link below, have driven the Habitat Agency and its co-permittees to pursue a major amendment to the Plan.