County of San Diego Butterflies Habitat Conservation Plan

Quino checkerspot butterflyQuino checkerspot butterfly

The County of San Diego (County) is now underway to protect sensitive butterfly species!

The County was recently awarded a Section 6 grant through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund. This funding will support the planning and completion of the County's Butterflies Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to protect sensitive butterfly species in San Diego including the federally listed endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly and Laguna Mountains skipper, federally listed threatened Hermes copper butterfly, and sensitive Harbison's dun skipper.

The purpose of the County's Butterflies HCP is to protect, restore, and enhance habitat to facilitate the recovery of these sensitive butterfly populations. The County's HCP will facilitate a more efficient regulatory process, providing improved species conservation and permitting for landowners, agricultural operators, businesses, and residents in the unincorporated regions of San Diego County.
 

Project Contact: Autumn Viglione | MSCP@sdcounty.ca.gov | (858) 495-5440
 

Upcoming Events

There are currently no virtual workshops scheduled. At previous meetings, staff presented an overview and background of the Butterflies HCP, the draft Covered Species list, and the Study Area, as well as provided an opportunity for the public to ask questions and provide their thoughts on these topics.

Information on future public workshops will be posted here once details are confirmed. To be notified of future opportunities to participate and other announcements on the Butterflies Habitat Conservation Plan, please subscribe to our mailing list by clicking the banner below.

PLAN OVERVIEW


In 1982, Section 10(a) of the federal Endangered Species Act was amended creating the Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) Program. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) administers the federal HCP process to provide incidental take permits for threatened and endangered species in exchange for conserving their habitat. Local governments, such as the County, can take the lead in developing these plans and become the recipient of federal permits.

The County's Butterflies HCP will be a long-term, regional plan focused on the recovery of sensitive butterfly populations in San Diego including the federally endangered Quino checkerspot, and federally endangered Laguna Mountains skipper, federally threatened Hermes copper, and sensitive Harbison’s dun skipper. 

Hermes copper butterflyHermes copper butterfly

The County's Butterflies HCP will provide the basis for the County to receive a federal incidental take permit to “cover” these sensitive butterfly species. This allows the incidental take permit to be extended to future development projects that comply with the County's Butterflies HCP, so these projects do not have to secure their own separate incidental take permit from the USFWS. Through this permitting mechanism, the County's Butterflies HCP will facilitate a more efficient regulatory process, providing improved species conservation and permitting for landowners, agricultural operators, businesses, and residents in the unincorporated regions of San Diego County.

As development, recreation, or agriculture projects are built, conservation measures outlined in the County's Butterflies HCP are implemented, eventually leaving an enhanced interconnected preserve system. This allows all parties to move away from the project-by-project decision making, and instead move toward a more predictable and structured process. Under this plan, large blocks of interconnected habitat made up of privately owned lands in easement or acquisition by the County or other conservation agency will be restored, enhanced, and conserved to help recover sensitive butterfly species. As larger, connected areas of habitat are preserved, there is a higher chance that viable populations are protected into the future. Larger blocks of habitat are also more resilient to the effects of climate change and other threats.