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Final Placer County Conservation Program to be released May 22
Published on May 21, 2020
In a major step forward for the proposed Placer County Conservation Program, its final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report will be made publicly available tomorrow, opening a 30-day Federal Register listing period that runs until June 22.
If approved, the PCCP will coordinate and streamline local, state and federal permitting processes required as a condition of development, and create a large, interconnected reserve system to more effectively protect covered fish and wildlife species.
The PCCP covers more than 260,000 acres of western Placer County and the City of Lincoln. These areas include wetlands and vernal pools, oak woodlands, streams, natural areas, agriculture, and open space. Within the plan area, roughly 47,000 acres would become part of the reserve system.
“The PCCP will provide significant conservation and economic-development benefits because it more effectively protects species and their habitat while streamlining permitting processes and pushing more decision making on proposed development to the local level,” said District 2 Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt, who represents parts of western Placer including Lincoln. “After several years of work, it’s exciting to have reached this important milestone with Federal Register listing.”
Under the federal Endangered Species Act and California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act, jurisdictions and agencies participating as plan partners in the PCCP – Placer County, Lincoln, the Placer County Water Agency and South Placer Regional Transportation Agency– will be able to extend state and federal permit coverage to proposed covered projects, saving time and money compared to the current process that requires public infrastructure and private development projects to obtain permits on their own from federal and state agencies.
The related county Aquatic Resources Program will enable the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to set up an abbreviated permitting process under Section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act. The integration of endangered-species and aquatic-resource permitting into one streamlined local process is one of the first of its kind in the country.
Public hearings on the proposed adoption of the PCCP, EIS/EIR, Aquatic Resources Program and implementing agreement are expected to begin in June, starting with the Placer County Planning Commission. Additional adoption hearings will subsequently be held by the Placer County Board of Supervisors, Lincoln City Council, PCWA Board of Directors and SPRTA Board of Directors. Permit issuance to the plan partners from state and federal agencies would follow.
Under the PCCP, property owners or project sponsors required to mitigate species and habitat impacts would either dedicate land to the reserve system or pay fees to support free-market easement or property acquisitions.
The PCCP would be managed by a joint powers authority that includes Placer County and Lincoln. The JPA will hold title to conservation easements or fee title to preserved lands. It also will oversee cooperative agreements with other entities that will own or manage preserves or conservation easements as part of the PCCP preserve system.
The final documents and other information are available on the Placer County website at https://www.placer.ca.gov/3362/Placer-County-Conservation-Program.