Alameda, Contra Costa Draft Conservation Plan Released
BIA|Bay Area has received an advance copy of a draft 650-page regional conservation plan that encompasses Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The East Bay Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (RCIS) identifies lands eligible for voluntary participation in a pending mitigation conservation agreement program governed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife., Once adopted, the RCIS will allow landowners and developers to voluntarily enter into mitigation conservation agreements (MCAs) with the state, and regulatory agencies may allow the exchanges to satisfy project mitigation requirements. The mitigation credits could also be sold or transferred to other projects. Lands within the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy, as well as all existing and future habitat conservation plans, are ineligible. Formation of the RCIS program was mandated under Assembly Bill 2087 in 2016 and the Department of Fish and Wildlife is still writing many of the guidelines including those that will govern the MCAs. Funded largely by the Bechtel Foundation and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the East Bay RCIS is one of four pilot regional conservation investment strategies under development across California. The others are in Santa Clara and Yolo counties, and the Antelope Valley in Los Angeles County. Comments on the Santa Clara County Regional Investment Strategy are still being accepted although it is reportedly close to being finalized. The public comment period on the East Bay RCIS will open later in March. While most anticipate that transportation agencies undertaking large public infrastructure projects will make the greatest use of the RCIS process through their Regional Advance Mitigation Programs or RAMPs, it will provide a new option for private developers seeking to comply with mitigation requirements. BIA members working in Contra Costa and Alameda counties are strongly encouraged to review the draft HERE and communicate concerns or questions to East Bay Governmental Affairs Executive Director Lisa Vorderbrueggen at firstname.lastname@example.org. If appropriate, BIA will submit comments on behalf of its members. For more information about the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s regional conservation investment strategy program, click HERE.