Frequently Asked Questions
Section 1: About the YHC
What is the Yolo Habitat Conservancy?
The Yolo Habitat Conservancy (YHC) is a local joint powers authority (JPA), an entity that was formed as a partnership between Yolo County and the cities of Davis, West Sacramento, Woodland, and Winters to develop and implement a county-wide Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP), along with a Local Conservation Plan (LCP) for Yolo County, California. The YHC Board of Directors acts as the primary decision-making authority for the organization and is comprised of elected representatives from Yolo County and each of the incorporated cities located within the county as well as a representative from the University of California, Davis, who participates as an ex officio (non-voting) member.
What are the goals of the Yolo Habitat Conservancy?
The goals of the Yolo Habitat Conservancy are to conserve and protect Yolo County’s natural heritage with its broad array of native species and habitats; to support the long-term viability of the County’s agricultural economy; to promote smart, sensible economic growth and development; to protect natural areas and features that help define the character of Yolo County; and to preserve key open space areas and enhance opportunities for recreation.
What are the primary activities of the Yolo Habitat Conservancy?
The primary activities conducted by the Yolo Habitat Conservancy include: identify and implement a regional approach to habitat conservation within Yolo County; partner with landowners, conservation organizations, and other stakeholders to protect and enhance habitat for a variety of species across a network of natural lands and working agricultural lands; provide a process for the mitigation of impacts to biological resources from development activities within Yolo County; and authorize the use of incidental take permits for development and other projects that potentially affect habitat of covered species or the species themselves.
Section 2: About the Yolo HCP/NCCP
What is the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan / Natural Communities Conservation Plan?
The Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan / Natural Community Conservation Plan (Yolo HCP/NCCP) is a combined habitat conservation plan (HCP) and natural community conservation plan (NCCP). An HCP is a document that meets Federal Endangered Species Act (FESA) requirements and enables local agencies to allow projects and activities to occur in areas that may impact protected species and/or their habitats if they incorporate HCP-prescribed measures to avoid, minimize, or compensate for adverse effects on these species. A natural community conservation plan (NCCP) is the state of California’s counterpart to the federal HCP. It provides a means of complying with the Natural Community Conservation Plan Act (NCCPA) and securing incidental take authorization at the state level. The primary objective of the NCCP program is to conserve natural communities at the ecosystem scale, while accommodating planned land uses. Whereas HCPs typically only require avoidance of a net adverse impact on a covered species, the NCCP Act requires that conservation actions improve the overall condition of covered species and their habitats, and includes the commitment to conservation actions that are above and beyond mitigation requirements.
What are the anticipated outcomes and benefits of the Yolo HCP/NCCP?
The Yolo HCP/NCCP is a comprehensive, county-wide plan that provides for the conservation of covered species (see below for list of species covered in the Yolo HCP/NCCCP) in Yolo County and the natural and semi-natural communities upon which they depend, including the agricultural landscape that supports covered species. It also provides a streamlined process for accommodating appropriate and compatible economic growth and development consistent with applicable federal and state regulations and local land use laws and associated general plans. It has been designed to:
Provide a comprehensive means for coordinating and standardizing the mitigation and compensation requirements of the FESA, NCCPA, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and other applicable laws and regulations related to covered species and associated natural communities in Yolo County. This will ensure that public and private actions will be governed equally and consistently, thereby reducing delays, expenses, and regulatory duplication.
In combination with the Local Conservation Plan, serve as a platform for coordination and cooperation among various and ongoing conservation planning efforts occurring both within Yolo County and in neighboring jurisdictions.
Provide a scientifically sound and consistent basis for issuing the permits and authorizations necessary for lawful incidental take of covered species that have been listed as threatened or endangered pursuant to the terms of the FESA and/or CESA.
Provide a scientifically sound and consistent process for the issuance of incidental take authorizations for covered species that are not currently listed but may be listed in the future without the imposition of additional mitigation or conservation requirements outside of the HCP/NCCP process.
Reinforce the role of local government in overseeing local land use planning and decision-making and, in combination with the Yolo Local Conservation Plan, provide it with ongoing conservation-based evaluation and management information
Encourage and support sustainable and conservation-based agricultural practices, recognizing that agriculture in Yolo County plays an important role in both the local economy and the preservation of open space and habitat for a variety of species.
Streamline and coordinate existing processes for review and permitting of public and private activities that potentially affect covered species by replacing the current project-by-project, species-by-species review and regulatory regime with a comprehensive plan and a less costly, more efficient and speedier approval process.
Provide clear expectations and regulatory predictability for land users and conservation efforts related to the covered species and associated natural communities within Yolo County by identifying relevant conservation requirements for ongoing and future activities.
Provide for effective, landscape scale, conservation of the species covered by the plan and their habitats, including measures that contribute to species recovery.
What species are covered by the Yolo HCP/NCCP?
Yolo County supports a wide array of species, from specialized plants and animals that only occur in the alkali pools and vernal pools of the Central Valley floor to rare butterflies that occur on the ridges of the Coast Range in the northwestern portion of the County. While the Yolo HCP/NCCP and Local Conservation Plan will facilitate conservation benefits for many of these species, the plans focus on the 12 included in this table due to their rarity and current conservation status.
What is the Yolo Local Conservation Plan and Regional Conservation Investment Strategy and how is it different from the Yolo HCP/NCCP?
The YHC is preparing a voluntary conservation strategy called a Local Conservation Plan/Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (Yolo LCP/RCIS), which identifies the conservation needs of special-status species and natural communities throughout Yolo County. The Local Conservation Strategy was developed by the YHC Advisory Committee; an RCIS is a document developed by a public agency and approved by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the purpose of informing science-based nonbinding and voluntary conservation actions and habitat enhancement actions that would advance the conservation of focal species and provide voluntary nonbinding guidance for conservation activities as authorized by Assembly Bill 2087. The combined LCP and RCIS is intended to provide a comprehensive county-wide conservation strategy that goes beyond the 12 species covered by the HCP/NCCP. The LCP/RCIS is voluntary and non-regulatory. The LCP/RCIS and HCP/NCCP are intended to complement one another and collectively provide a comprehensive habitat conservation strategy for Yolo County. Both the LCP/RCIS and the HCP/NCCP have benefitted from extensive public involvement and comment from a variety of stakeholders including the developers, conservation organizations, landowners, and farmers.
How long is the habitat plan in effect?
The permit term for the Yolo HCP/NCCP is 50 years, although lands conserved under the plan will be permanently protected through conservation easements and, in some cases, through purchase agreements.
How will stakeholders and the public participate in implementation of the habitat plan?
The public will participate in the habitat plan through regular public meetings, a stakeholder advisory committee, and volunteer opportunities. The YHC maintains an extensive mailing list and regularly contacts interested parties and stakeholders to announce meetings, issuance of reports, and other important information about the activities of the YHC.