Habitat Conservation Plans

In 1973, the United States Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in order to "conserve the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend, and to conserve and recover listed species." The ESA protects threatened and endangered species from extinction by limiting and regulating activities that impact listed species or their habitat. Sometimes, take of a listed species can occur incidentally to an otherwise lawful activity. In 1982, Congress amended the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to allow Incidental Take Permits (ITPs). The USFWS can issue ITPs to private parties for otherwise lawful projects on non-federal land for take of federally listed species. This process can be used to reduce conflicts between listed species and private development. It also provides a framework encouraging "creative partnerships" between the private sector and local, state and federal agencies.

In order to receive an ITP, an applicant must first develop and submit a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). An HCP is a mandatory prerequisite for receiving an ITP and must include certain components. First it must describe the intended activity and quantify the impact of the project on listed species. It must also propose measures to minimize and mitigate for that impact. Finally, it must provide for long-term monitoring of the mitigation efforts in order to ensure that the measures outlined in the HCP are effective.

Current Examples

Draft Area-wide HCP examples