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  • Pima County to receive key Endangered Species Act permit

    Jan 21, 2016 | Read More News
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    MSCP LogoU. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will soon issue a “Section 10 permit” for Pima County’s Multi-species Conservation Plan (MSCP).  The permit will streamline endangered species compliance for new development and formalize the County’s conservation commitments already made under the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.  

    Section 10 refers to a section of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that allows for the legal harming (“take”) of listed species provided that a plan is in place for the avoidance and mitigation of such “take.” The MSCP is Pima County’s plan for complying with the ESA.   

    Work on the MSCP goes back more than 15 years when a tiny, but fierce owl protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) helped to launch an ambitious effort to identify and protect important places for cultural and natural heritage, realign local land-use decisions, and provide certainty to public and private developers. Successful voter-approved bond programs in 2004 and 2006 for land conservation and transportation helped to steer a booming economy away from treasured places such as Canoa Ranch and Tumamoc Hill, while re-building and extending roads and other infrastructure in accordance with a locally developed vision – the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

    From this foundation of success, Pima County and Pima County Regional Flood Control District (District) worked with the USFWS to prepare the Section 10 permit, which recognizes steps the community has taken to implement the local conservation plan over the past 15 years. The permit covers up to 36,000 acres of impacts to nine species currently listed under the ESA, and 35 additional species that may become federally protected during the 30-year permit duration.  

    In addition to streamlining compliance for County and District projects, the benefits of the Section 10 permit can be extended to the regulated development community, providing a simpler, faster way for the private sector to address endangered species compliance issues.  

    The permit will provide regulatory certainty for a recovering economy by ensuring that no additional commitments will be needed in the event of future federal decisions to protect additional species under the ESA. In return for this certainty and the benefits of replacing project-by-project compliance with a streamlined, locally administered process, Pima County and the District are responsible for protecting, managing, and monitoring lands under County management, which include some of the lands previously acquired with funds from the 2004 voter-approved bonds.

    For details on what the permit covers, read the MSCP Section 10 booklet.