EHL calls for improvements to North County San Diego habitat plan
EHL has identified additional species needed to round out the plan’s “ecosystem” benefits.
The North County Multiple Species Conservation Program (NC MSCP) restarted in 2020 after years of inaction. An important step is to identify a list of species for “coverage.” These species will drive preserve design – whether for habitat types or connectivity – and serve to monitor how the plan is doing and guide management actions. Coverage also provides streamlined permitting under state and federal endangered species acts and under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The species list proposed by the consultant team was heavily weighted toward species already listed as endangered or which might be listed in the future, leaving gaps if the plan is truly to be a comprehensive approach to conservation. This comprehensive approach is embedded in the California Natural Communities Conservation Planning Act, which is the underpinning for the planning effort.
Working with a biologist, EHL identified additional species to better represent grasslands, such as the grasshopper sparrow and San Diego black-tailed jackrabbit, and aquatic habitats, such as the two-stiped garter snake and the arroyo chub (a fish). We also recommended adding mule deer to ensure wildlife movement and adding several plants only found in San Diego. While there is additional cost associated with monitoring more species, we now have a regional program run by the San Diego Association of Governments – the San Diego Management and Monitoring Program (SDMMP) – to defray these costs. See <https://sdmmp.com
> to learn of its important work.
EHL is currently working with County staff and state and federal wildlife agencies on the species list.