About The Yolo Natural Heritage Program
Jan 2003 ©Peter LaTourrette www.birdphotography.com
The Yolo Natural Heritage Program is a county-wide Natural Communities Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP) for the 653,820 acre planning area. The Yolo Natural Heritage Program 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 the County. The Yolo Natural Heritage Program will describe the measures that will be undertaken to conserve important biological resources, obtain permits for urban growth and public infrastructure projects, and continue Yolo County's rich agricultural heritage.
The JPA recently completed the first phase of the Yolo Natural Heritage Program. Some important accomplishments during the first phase include establishment of a Steering Advisory Committee and a Technical Advisory Committee, preparation of a draft Ecological Baseline Report, development of a GIS data base and completion of the Independent Science Advisors process. The next major phase (funded in part by a 2005 federal Section 6 planning assistance grant award) is underway and focuses on development of conservation strategies and preserve design alternatives.
Throughout the County many conservation efforts contribute to the preservation and enhancement of Yolo County's rich natural 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. Because these efforts are integral to the County's unique quality of life, the JPA is committed to working in cooperative partnerships with local conservation groups in fulfilling its two specific roles.
How the Process Works
The Program weaves together the most current 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 regulatory compliance. Plan goals and methods are also defined through open processes of stakeholder and public involvement. The plan must include mechanisms and agreements to provide funding for implementation, effective management capabilities for the protected areas, and long-term monitoring to measure results and allow adaptation of conservation strategies.The keysteps 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