What is a habitat conservation plan (HCP)?
An HCP is a document that meets federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) requirements and enables local agencies to allow projects and activities to occur in endangered species’ habitats. In exchange, those projects and activities must incorporate HCP-prescribed measures to avoid, minimize, or compensate for adverse effects on natural communities and endangered species.

An HCP extends its federally granted endangered species permit—or its take authorization—to all projects and activities it covers. Loosely defined, take means to injure or kill a listed species or alter the habitat on which it depends. (For more information on take, see Question 6 below.) Although the ESA prohibits take of listed species, under some circumstances take can be authorized by permit to agencies, developers, and other entities engaged in otherwise lawful activities. The HCP process recognizes the impact of land use activities and establishes a program to provide for a net benefit to specific species.

Without a regional HCP in place, local governments, private entities, or individuals evaluate projects and activities individually in consultation with a variety of federal and state regulators to mitigate for potential impacts on species. This is a lengthy process that can cost all parties considerable time and money. This approach also does less to protect wildlife because project- or activity-specific mitigation measures result in land being set aside on a piecemeal basis, resulting in fragmented habitats that are less ecologically viable and also more difficult to manage. Regional HCPs are a relatively new tool for protecting endangered and threatened species and represent an important integration of land use planning, regional and interagency coordination, and habitat conservation. The Habitat Plan offers a more efficient process for protecting the environment and processing applications for local projects and activities that may affect endangered species.

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1. What is the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan (Habitat Plan)?
2. Who developed the Habitat Plan? When was it approved?
3. What is a habitat conservation plan (HCP)?
4. What is a natural community conservation plan (NCCP)?
5. Why develop a joint HCP/NCCP?
6. What is "take"?
7. What are the benefits of the Habitat Plan?
8. What projects and activities are covered by the Habitat Plan?
9. What projects and activities are not covered by the Habitat Plan?
10. How long is the Habitat Plan in effect?
11. What are the boundaries of the Habitat Plan? How are the boundaries determined?
12. What does the Habitat Plan not do?
13. Who is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Habitat Plan?