About The Yolo Natural Heritage Program

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The Yolo Natural Heritage Program (YNHP) is a Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP) and Local Conservation Strategy for Yolo County, California. When implemented, the YNHP will conserve the natural open space and agricultural landscapes that provide habitat for many special status and at-risk species found within the habitats and natural communities in Yolo County. The habitat conservation goals are supplemented by additional goals related to preservation of the county’s agricultural character and promotion of economic development, as well as enhancement of opportunities for recreation in natural areas. When completed and approved, the YNHP plan will incorporate measures to conserve important biological resources, provide streamlined permitting for appropriate urban growth and public infrastructure projects, and support the preservation of Yolo County's rich agricultural heritage. All activities of the YNHP are conducted under the oversight of the Yolo County Joint  Powers Agency (JPA

Recent Accomplishments

Upon its inception in 2002, the JPA established an Advisory Committee, oversaw preparation of a draft Ecological Baseline Report, the development of a GIS database, and the completion of a Report by Independent Science Advisers, recommending scientific goals and articulating the scope of the HCP/NCCP. The next major phase focused on development of conservation strategies and preserve design alternatives, culminating in the release of the First Administrative Draft of the Yolo Natural Heritage Program on July 1, 2013. The Second Administrative Draft is in preparation.  

Cooperative Partnerships 

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Throughout the County, many conservation efforts contribute to the preservation and enhancement of Yolo County's rich natural and agricultural heritage. These conservation efforts cover a wide range of activities and organizations that protect and preserve farmland, creeks, watershed areas, riparian corridors, water quality, flood control, and habitat for various plant and animal species. The JPA is committed to working in cooperative partnerships with local conservation and agricultural groups in fulfilling its goals. Conservation partners include the following:
  • Yolo County Resource Conservation District
  • Yolo County Farm Bureau
  • Yolo Land Trust
  • Yolo Basin Foundation 
  • Cache Creek Conservancy
  • Putah Creek Council
  • Blue Ridge - Berryessa Partnership
  • Tuleyome
  • Audubon California
  • California Native Plant Society

How the Process Works

The YNHP weaves together biological data about species and habitat types with city and county land-use planning information that indicates projected future development compatible with Yolo County values. It uses economic analysis to identify conservation opportunities and potential incentives to create effective compliance with regulatory requirements of state and federal oversight agencies. Plan goals and methods are also defined through open processes of stakeholder and public involvement. Finally, the plan identifies  mechanisms and agreements to provide funding for implementation, ensure appropriate management capabilities for protected areas and conservation lands, and establish long-term monitoring programs to track results and allow adaptation of effective conservation strategies over the projected 50-year life of the plan.

The key steps in this process are to:
  • Review the best biological data to develop a list of covered species
  • Review land use and economic development plans to define a list of covered activities
  • Determine the impacts of those activities on the species and their habitat
  • Define clear conservation goals and strategies to protect covered species from the impacts of covered activities
  • Select a final preserve design and conservation strategy
  • Develop the funding and management mechanisms for the implementation plan
  • Consider stakeholder and public input at key decision points
  • Achieve adoption by the local participating agencies and approval by the federal and state regulatory agencies


    ©Michal Venera

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