North County Plan

The North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan (North County Plan) would extend the County’s Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) into the northern portion of the unincorporated county. On October 28, 2020 (6), the Board of Supervisors directed staff to continue development of the North County Plan as a joint Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP) to achieve many of the same environmental and economic benefits realized through the adopted South County Subarea Plan.

A great deal of collaborative work has gone into development of the North County Plan. The input received from members of the Stakeholder Working Group, community groups, and other interested parties has been invaluable to the North County Plan. As additional information on the status of the North County Plan is available, interested parties will be notified.

Project Contact:


We've created an interactive website to offer more opportunities for engagement with the North County Plan. This site will host workshop materials, infographics for key components of the North County Plan, and opportunities to interact with staff.

Click the below button to learn more and visit our engagement portal.


Public Review Period

The Working Draft of the North County Plan: Technical Components of the Conservation Strategy are available for public review for 45-days from April 22, 2024 – June 6, 2024.

The County of San Diego is requesting feedback on several technical components of the Conservation Strategy for the Working Draft North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan (North County Plan). These components include the biological goals, objectives, and conservation actions at the landscape, natural community, and species level as well as project guiding conservation standards and avoidance and minimization measures.

We appreciate you taking the time to provide your input as we continue to develop the North County Plan in preparation for a full public draft to be released in 2025. To view and submit comments on the document, please visit the North County Plan Engagement Portal and click the “Review a Working Draft of the Plan” tool at the bottom of the page.

Virtual Public Workshops

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 North County Plan, please subscribe to our mailing list by clicking the banner below.

Would you like to learn more about the North County Plan? We are offering presentations to community groups, residents, business owners, employees, and other stakeholders in the unincorporated county who would like to learn about the development of the North County Plan and provide feedback. Email us at to connect with us.

You can find all previous North County Plan workshop presentations here.


Expand All | Collapse All

  • What is the Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP)?

    The Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) is a long-term, regional habitat conservation program that protects vulnerable species and their habitats while providing economic growth opportunities in San Diego County. The MSCP balances protection of habitat and species with recreation, development, and agricultural activities. Enacted by the County of San Diego in 1997 with 11 other jurisdictions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and various community stakeholders, this 50-year agreement preserves native vegetation and wildlife across San Diego. Under this program, large blocks of interconnected habitat will be conserved through acquisition of land by private and public entities and mitigation from development.

  • What is an Incidental Take Permit?

    For potential impacts, projects are required by the Federal and State Endangered Species Acts to obtain an incidental take permit to mitigate for potential impacts to listed species’ habitat. As a joint HCP/NCCP, the MSCP provides the basis for the County of San Diego (County) to receive an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), collectively referred to as the Wildlife Agencies. The incidental take permit the County receives through the MSCP can be extended to future development projects that comply with the MSCP so that those projects do not have to secure their own separate incidental take permits from the Wildlife Agencies. Through this permitting mechanism, the MSCP helps streamline permitting, provide regional conservation of natural habitats, and facilitate economic growth in San Diego County.

  • What area does the North County Plan cover?

    The County’s Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) is comprised of three separate planning areas covering unincorporated regions of San Diego in the South County, North County, and East County.

    The North County Plan Area encompasses approximately 680,000 acres in and around the unincorporated communities of Bonsall, Central Mountain, Cuyamaca, De Luz, Fallbrook, Harmony Grove, Julian, San Dieguito, North Mountain, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, Ramona, Rincon Springs, Twin Oaks Valley, and Valley Center within the County's jurisdiction.

  • If my land is included within the MSCP Plan Area, will I be still able to develop it?

    MSCP plans do not place a moratorium on development; however, all projects must be in conformance with the MSCP plan. How a project conforms varies depending on the type of development proposed. Some projects meet certain exemption criteria and do not require any modification, while others require revisions and mitigation in order for the project to conform. County staff will review each project and determine what is necessary for conformance with the MSCP plan.

  • Will the government condemn my land for the MSCP?

    No land will be condemned to achieve the goals of the MSCP. The County will only purchase land from willing sellers. Federal and state agencies involved with land acquisition have stated similar restrictions on condemnation.

  • Can I sell my land to the MSCP?

    The County has an obligation to acquire land for preserve within areas covered by MSCP plans. Since the inception of the MSCP, the County has negotiated and purchased several properties from willing sellers. The County will consider purchasing land that meets certain criteria, including whether the property is important in completing the planned preserve system for the region. If you are interested in potentially selling land to the County, contact the Real Estate Services Division of the Department of General Services at (858) 694-2291.

  • What is a Covered Species?

    A key component of the North County Plan is its Covered Species list, which identifies species in the Plan Area that are either currently listed as threatened or endangered under the Federal or California Endangered Species Acts or may become listed during the term of the MSCP Plan. These species are “covered” by the County’s incidental take permit, meaning that projects that demonstrate conformance with the North County Plan will not need to obtain separate permits from the Wildlife Agencies for potential species impacts.

    In addition to regulatory requirements to protect and recover species, humans depend on the services ecosystems provide, such as fresh water, pollination, soil fertility and stability, food and medicine. Ecosystems weakened by the loss of biodiversity are less likely to deliver those services, especially given the needs of an ever-growing human population.

  • Do MSCP plans allow developers to avoid the federal and state endangered species acts?

    The County's granting of third-party beneficiary status means that developers do not need to obtain individual permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or California Department of Fish & Wildlife for species covered under MSCP plans, which can substantially reduce the time and cost for a project. Through implementation of MSCP plans, biological resources are protected, guidelines are provided for development, and programs for land acquisition are established. MSCP plans set forth specific preserve design considerations, limitations to impacts, and minimum mitigation requirements for all development projects. 

  • How will being in an MSCP area affect the processing of my subdivision or permit?

    The time and costs involved with the County’s environmental review of a project are made more efficient by the MSCP. Rather than each individual project undergoing review with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and/or California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to receive incidental take permits, the MSCP allows projects to receive coverage under the County’s incidental take permit by demonstrating compliance with the plan.  Your project may require revisions depending on its location within the MSCP plan area and biological resources present. You may also be required to mitigate for impacts your project might have on sensitive resources. 

  • Can I clear vegetation for fire safety within the MSCP?

    The County Fire Chief's Association and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 1997that exempts the incidental take of endangered species by landowners complying with a Fire Marshal's Order, which is generally 100 feet of clearing from a residential structure.

    Clearing in areas beyond that required by the Fire Marshal's Order may require permits issued by federal, state, and/or County of San Diego authorities. For more information, please contact the Department of Planning and Development Services (PDS), Zoning Information Counter at (858) 694-8985.