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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s habitat conservation plans approved by California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Local leaders explain how the plan will protect local species without hindering agriculture

In November 2020, Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s Regional Conservation Investment Strategy/Local Conservation Plan (RCIS/LCP) was approved by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, becoming only the second approved plan in the state. 

The Yolo Habitat Conservancy is a joint powers agency dedicated to the conservation of natural and working landscapes as well as wildlife throughout Yolo County. According to a press release, Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s RCIS/LCP is a voluntary, non-regulatory conservation plan that guides both private and public conservation actions and investment including habitat restoration and protection.

Yolo County District 1 Supervisor Oscar Villegas explained via email that the RCIS/LCP is part of Yolo County’s longstanding commitment to agricultural growth and the conservation of natural habitats.

 “The county is very proud of the efforts by the Yolo Habitat Conservancy in advocating natural resource conservation in conjunction with managing sensible economic growth,” Villegas said. “Yolo County is primarily an agricultural county and respects all aspects of the wildlife that accompanies our land.”  

These efforts at the county level are particularly important because, as Woodland’s Environmental Sustainability Manager Ken Loman explained via email, local governments are uniquely positioned in their ability to address climate change and sustainability in their communities. 

“Climate change is a global problem, but how it affects each of us depends in part on the conditions in our local communities,” Loman said. “With over 39 million people and the world’s fifth largest economy, California is incredibly diverse. Only local governments are able to determine how to address climate and sustainability issues for their communities.”

Yolo Habitat Conservancy Board member and Yolo County District 2 Supervisor Don Saylor explained via email that Yolo County’s RCIS/LCP is a comprehensive plan resulting from a nearly eight-year process that began in 2013. 

“The Conservancy agreed to develop the voluntary, non-regulatory Local Conservation Plan (LCP),” Saylor said. “[The LCP] would cover over 100 additional species and propose biological goals and objectives to advance conservation for these species.” 

Saylor explained that as a voluntary, non-regulatory plan, landowners and developers who choose to participate are afforded benefits such as a simplified approach to environmental mitigation and a streamlined permitting process.

Saylor further described how the plan will help to protect local species and habitats.

“[The] RCIS/LCP establishes biological goals and objectives at the species level and describes conservation actions and habitat enhancement actions that, if implemented, will contribute to those goals and objectives,” Saylor said. “The Yolo RCIS/LCP […] will ensure conservation actions are coordinated across Yolo County, increase the likelihood of receiving state and federal funding for conservation work, increase the total amount of acreage conserved in Yolo County, and improve species outcomes.” 

Saylor explained that while widespread regulation is an important tool for affecting change in regards to conservation, community engagement is especially important.  

Looking forward, Saylor explained that Yolo County will maintain its commitment to environmental conservation in its continued support for the implementation of the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan. 

“The climate and environmental challenges we face are shared challenges that are not limited by jurisdictional boundaries,” Saylor said. “It is our hope that the 50-year Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan serves as a model for other communities to promote conjunctive use of land for both agriculture and habitat conservation.”

Written by: Yan Yan Hustis Hayes — city@theaggie.org


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