State and federal laws allow for the permitting of incidental take of an endangered species under certain circumstances. The permitting process requires that an applicant submit a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). An HCP must specify, among other things, the impacts from the take and the measures that will be taken to minimize and offset the impact to the species. For example, if adult seabirds are being killed by light impacts and collisions with powerlines, other seabirds breeding in colonies in the mountains can be protected by controlling predation from non-native species such as rats or feral cats. Such a measure is an example of a way to offset the impact of the take.
Habitat Conservation Plans are voluntary and are a means for non-federal entities such as private, state, and local jurisdictions to obtain a permit for actions, projects, or facilities that cause unavoidable incidental take of listed or candidate wildlife species. Congress intended HCPs to provide a mechanism to reduce conflicts between listed species and economic development, encourage cooperation and creative partnerships between the public and private sectors, and integrate land-use activities with conservation goals.
The advantage of an HCP for an applicant (entity desiring a permit) is the assurance of a permit for the proposed activity. The advantage of an HCP for the listed species is a coordination of conservation actions to maximize the potential benefits. For example, an HCP could fund the installation of a large-scale predator proof fence, predator removal, and maintenance over many decades. This has a higher conservation benefit than small-scale predator removal implemented on an intermittent basis.
Find more information about federal HCPs here.
That's great, but what makes our HCP unique?