The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District regulatory team has worked with civic leaders, federal and state agencies, and conservationists to help shape development and ecosystem preservation for perhaps the next 50 years in a huge piece of California’s Central Valley.
“We have helped develop what we feel is an innovative approach to permitting activities for the region covered by the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan,” said Mike Jewell, Sacramento District chief of regulatory division.
The SSHCP is a proposed plan that strives to balance species conservation while allowing for planned growth and other activities in the southern part of the Sacramento area, including the cities of Rancho Cordova and Galt.
Since habitat for federally-listed species often has a strong overlap with aquatic resources, which the Corps has regulatory authority over, close coordination is necessary with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, lead agency for review and decision-making on the SSHCP.
When standard processes for obtaining several types of regulatory permits from various state and federal agencies are handled on a project-by-project basis, they can become time-consuming, costly and unpredictable. This project-by-project approach to reviews may also contribute to less holistic, landscape-oriented mitigation for unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources, and likewise more fragmented conservation in terms of preserve locations.
By contrast, the SSHCP’s goals, objectives and procedural approach to coordinated regulation are intended to benefit both future permit applicants and regional conservation values.
“We are proposing a permit strategy that will streamline approval for activities that local entities have determined are consistent with the SSHCP,” Jewell said.
Sacramento District’s regulatory team will soon be working on updates to the draft permit strategy based on public input—bringing this unique, first-of-its-kind habitat conservation plan/Regulatory permit strategy closer to fruition.
The SSHCP plan area encompasses 317,656 acres that are bordered by Highway 50 on the north, San Joaquin County on the south, El Dorado County to the east and the Sacramento River to the west.
Within the SSHCP plan area, 36,282 acres would become part of an interconnected preserve system, including approximately 1,000 acres of vernal pool habitat. Twenty-eight plant and wildlife species, and their natural habitats, will be conserved under the plan.
The plan is led by a multi-jurisdiction collaborative that includes Sacramento County; the cities of Rancho Cordova and Galt; the Sacramento County Water Agency; the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District; and the Capital SouthEast Connector Joint Powers Authority.
Implementation costs – including land acquisition, protection and management – will be incurred by those who impact resources with covered activities. Property owners and developers in the SSHCP plan area will either pay fees to mitigate species and habitat impacts consistent with the conservation strategy or dedicate land to the preserve system. Land and easement acquisitions will be obtained from willing sellers.
Information regarding the Corps’ documentation of the proposal can be accessed at https://go.usa.gov/xR9JV
Further information regarding the SSHCP can be accessed at http://www.southsachcp.com/