Antioch HCP Moves Forward
Following long-awaited state approval of a grant agreement in November 2017, work has resumed on the data analysis and preparation of the Antioch Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan, according to a recent letter submitted by the project manager to the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy Public Advisory Committee. Click HERE to view the letter and a packet which includes the proposed permit area maps.
The intent is to prepare an Antioch HCP/NCCP that is nearly identical in policies and covered species to that of the East Contra Costa HCP/NCCP. The two areas would be co-managed. Under the program, developers who receive entitlements within a designated HCP/NCCP permit area have the option to pay a mitigation fee to the conservancy rather than pursue permits with the regulatory agencies for the multiple coverages individually.
The Antioch HCP/NCCP still faces a number of challenges before it can be completed, wrote Project Manager Kenneth Schreiber to the East Contra Costa Habitat Conservancy PAC on Jan. 30, 2018. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded Antioch a grant to prepare the HCP/NCCP in late 2014 but protracted negotiations held up the project for three years. The delay has already cost the project so much time that it needs a time extension — the grant expires on March 18, 2018. The city is also preparing to submit a second federal planning grant in order to complete the work. Given the change in the federal administration under President Donald Trump, it is unclear if the extension will be approved or if new grant funds will be available to plan for purchasing land for the purposes of environmental conservation.
In addition, a second and “very unusual issue has emerged,” Schreiber wrote. The federal Department of the Interior has issued an executive order stating that federal environmental impact statements may have no more than 150 pages in the main body and no more than 150 pages in the appendices. Projects requiring both a state and federal environmental review are typically hundreds and hundreds of pages. Schreiber noted that the Antioch HCP/NCCP appears to be the first project in the nation to “confront the federal/state dual environmental review” question and they are still waiting for clarification from Washington.