A Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is a long-term land management plan authorized under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Designed to protect endangered or potentially endangered plant and animal species and their habitats, it is one of the ESA’s most innovative conservation programs. It is an agreement between a landowner or local government and federal agencies, integrating species conservation into land management activities. HCPs are designed to reduce conflict and encourage the development of “creative partnerships” between the public and private sector. More than 475 HCPs have been approved covering hundreds of species on nearly 31 million acres in the United States.
Federal Services Approve Statewide Habitat Conservation Plan — the First of Its Kind in the Nation
On June 5, 2006, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries did sign the Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan. The Forest Practices Habitat Conservation Plan (FPHCP) (also known as the Forests & Fish HCP) is a statewide, programmatic HCP protecting 60,000 miles of streams on 9.3 million acres of forestland, set in motion by the Forests and Fish Law. It ensures landowners that practicing forestry in Washington State meets the requirements for aquatic species designated by the federal Endangered Species Act. The Forests & Fish HCP is one of a kind because of its scope and collaborative development. It is a 50-year agreement with the federal government to increase protection of Washington’s streams and forests. Local, state, federal government, tribes, and forest landowners worked together to develop this plan.
Adaptive management will keep the HCP fresh and current. The plan contains clear resource objectives for the protection of fish habitat and clean water. It also contains a comprehensive scientific research and monitoring program to test to see if resource objectives are being met. If the objectives are not being met, the plan has a defined process to make necessary change to ensure the protection of fish habitat and water quality.
Port Blakely Tree Farms HCP
In 1996, WFPA member Port Blakely Tree Farms made the decision to develop a 50-year HCP that covers the 11,334-acre Robert B. Eddy Tree Farm in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties. The tree farm is dominated by second growth Douglas fir and western hemlock. Many species are covered under the Port Blakely HCP, including the northern spotted owl, gray wolf, marbled murrelet, grizzly bear, tailed frog, and the northern red-legged frog.
Port Blakely reports compliance monitoring every two years, and every five years they report any significant changes in habitat. Then they compare habitat conditions to the targets identified in their HCP and adjust practices accordingly.