- [Note from BenIndy: Respected environmental consulting firm LSA has generated a fascinating but lengthy memorandum regarding California Forever’s proposed new city’s impact on conservation and mitigation in the Solano Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). While the whole memorandum offers a clear case for concern as well as an excellent blueprint of the various federal and state hurdles California Forever will have to overcome, those who don’t have time to dive into a 23-page document will certainly benefit from former Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson’s excellent summary of the document, available below.]
By Elizabeth Patterson, November 8, 2023
The Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is a federal program that allows projects that impact ecosystems (generally species-specific) to mitigate the impacts by acquiring habitat and conserving it in perpetuity. In this case the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) is a contractor with the federal government for the operation and management of the Monticello dam and Putah South Canal (that is the canal that conveys Benicia’s water) and other components to the dam system. As part of the contract renewal twenty-odd years ago, SCWA has been required to mitigate the impacts associated with this project. The water agency has worked with Solano County and cities to identify habitat conservation areas that meet the requirements. The cities would benefit by being able to have the developer buy into the conservation areas. In other words, cities designated as the places to grow urban development would be able to have the developer pay their fair share for habitat conservation. Generally, such arrangements are hard to do one project at a time, and thus the overall plan of the HCP makes these mitigation plans more efficient and effective.