1. What is an HCP?
A Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is a document that will allow State and Federal agencies to issue Incidental Take Permits to local agencies to impact endangered species. An Incidental Take Permit allows a project to have a negative impact on endangered species as long as mitigation identified in the HCP is provided. The HCP looks at habitat resources on a countywide basis and identifies conservation and mitigation measures to protect listed species while allowing for orderly development and public agency activities.
2. Why are we doing an HCP?
An HCP was required as part of renewing the water supply contract from the Solano Project (Lake Berryessa). The Solano Project is the most important water resource to Solano County. Since the Solano Project is owned by the United States Government, compliance with the Federal Endangered Species Act was required resulting in the need for an HCP to deal with potential impacts to endangered species caused by water supply contract renewal.
3. What is the specific requirement of contract renewal for an HCP?
The requirement is to address 37 species. The minimum geographical area to be covered is the Solano County Water Agency’s contract service area that is the cities of Fairfield, Vacaville, Vallejo, Suisun City, the Solano Irrigation District and the Maine Prairie Water District. Currently, we are planning on addressing 37 species and the area covered by the HCP is all of Solano County and a small portion of Yolo County.
We are including species beyond the minimum required species since the 37 species are species that are impacted by the public agency actions to be covered in the HCP and would need to be addressed during approval processes for projects. If they are not included in the HCP, they would have to have a separate review for compliance with the endangered Species Acts. The additional work to include the extra species is well worth the needed coverage for the species. In most cases, the extra species are from the same habitat as required species so they can be included in the HCP without additional mitigation requirements.
The geographical area has been divided into three zones, with each zone having different covered activities. Activities in areas outside of the city growth areas are for channel maintenance, public agency facilities and management activities associated with preserves.
4. What is a Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP)?
An NCCP is the State counterpart to an HCP. It provides a means of complying with the State Endangered Species Act. We are not proposing to prepare a NCCP at this time.
5. Who is paying for the HCP?
The costs for developing the HCP are being borne by the Solano County Water Agency as part of its water supply budget, since the requirement came from Solano Project water supply contract renewal. Implementation of the HCP will mostly be funded by those agencies and private sector interests who need to obtain Endangered Species Act coverage for their projects. There will be some ongoing costs of the Water Agency for administering the HCP. Grants will be sought to implement parts of the HCP.
6. Is my property going to be identified as habitat?
The HCP is not planning to identify individual, privately held property as habitat. Lands that have conservation easements or are already developed as habitat (such as private mitigation banks) and publicly owned habitat will be identified in the HCP. Potential preserve locations will be generally described in the HCP. The HCP will include specific criteria for lands qualifying as preserves for specific species.
7. Is the HCP going to regulate agriculture?
No. Private agricultural activities will not be covered in the HCP. The HCP Applicants are all public agencies. We do not feel it is necessary to include private agricultural activities in the HCP.
8. Will I be impacted if a preserve is developed next door to me?
The HCP will include a “good neighbor” provision whereby properties adjacent to preserves developed as a result of the HCP will be granted an exemption from the Endangered Species Act so that they can continue their activities without being impacted by an adjacent preserve or habitat area. This has been done successfully in many HCP’s.