A first-of-its kind conservation plan is a step closer to reality after the Placer County Board of Supervisors Sept. 15 approved funding for land purchases and a new position to oversee the plan in the county’s final 2015-2016 budget.
The Placer County Conservation Plan is the nation’s first such agreement to share permitting authority among local agencies and the state and federal governments, and creates a comprehensive conservation plan that sets aside up to 47,000 acres of land under permanent preservation.
When approved, the plan will result in a larger, more contiguous area of open space and natural habitat, as well as a more streamlined, cost-effective and predictable permitting process to promote sustainable future development in unincorporated areas of the county and the City of Lincoln.
“We think this is a model for sustainable development, and it’s the right thing to do to help preserve the unique environment of Placer County and our economic future,” said District 2 Supervisor Robert Weygandt. “We still have a lot of work to do to finalize the agreement, but once it’s complete, we want to be ready to go on day one.”
Development that affects wetlands or other waters is required by federal law to use the least environmentally-damaging alternative, and to mitigate for any impacts that can’t practically be avoided by restoring comparable land and habitat elsewhere.
Placer County already holds 2,100 acres of land in conservation that can be used as mitigation for future development. The county’s final budget includes $1 million to buy additional land. Uniquely, the PCCP ensures that conservation lands will always be available before they’re needed to serve as mitigation, so that permitting agencies and developers are assured that projects will never proceed ahead of the mitigation needed to support them.
The plan’s draft environmental impact report is expected to be released for public review and comment in the winter of 2016.