1. What is a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP)?
It is related to an Incidental Take Permit (ITP). A HCP is the plan that shows how proposed impacts ("take") will be minimized and mitigate. An incidental take permit (ITP) is required when non-Federal activities will result in the impact of threatened or endangered wildlife.
2. Why an HCP?
To keep permits flowing and provide a predictable permit process. Otherwise each applicant who needs a HCP must go through a 12-36 month process to get their own HCP directly from USFWS and obtain building permits from Thurston County. Permits can be issued year round with no need for the seasonal June-October gopher review. The County can be a one stop shop for permit applicants. When someone receives a County permit, federal and state species laws are also met.
3. Who Approves an HCP?
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approves the County HCP.
4. Who Implements the HCP?
Thurston County will oversee the HCP implementation.
5. Who is covered?
All project types for which Thurston County issues permits (except mining activities will need to obtain their own federal permits)
6. What if I don't believe I have habitat on my property?
The HCP will have a process that allows applicants to demonstrate they don’t have habitat on-site. This is currently being created.
7. Am I required to Participate in the County HCP?
No. Its voluntary. Permit applicants can get their own HCP directly from the USFWS.
8. Will an HCP render my land unusable?
No. Just the opposite. If your property has habitat for one of the covered species, an HCP is the legal path to develop your land in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.