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. A great deal of collaborative work has gone into development of the North County Plan. The input received from members of the Steering Committee, 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: Chelsea Oakes | | (858) 505-6677

The County has been developing the North County Plan to achieve many of the same environmental and economic benefits realized through the adopted County Subarea Plan (South County Plan). Public outreach meetings for the North County Plan were held in spring of 2017 and County staff received input from a variety of stakeholders.

The County selected ICF, a statewide leader in regional conservation planning, to review the draft North County Plan in relation to current practices and regulatory requirements and to develop planning options for public discussion and input.  Their review is summarized in a report entitled the North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan Status Review and Options Assessment.

A public outreach period was held for the Options Assessment from March 4 to May 14, 2020 to collect feedback for discussions with the Board of Supervisors in fall 2020. The County held several meetings with public agencies, business organizations, environmental groups, community groups, and other interested members of the public. This included Steering Committee meetings held on March 6, 2020 and on May 1, 2020 (virtual) and a public Q&A session held virtually on April 30, 2020.


The County anticipates presenting the Options Assessment and the input received during the public comment period to the Board of Supervisors in fall of 2020. Information regarding the public hearing will be provided as it becomes available.


In 1992, the State of California enacted the Natural Communities Conservation Planning (NCCP) Act. This voluntary program allows the state government to enter into planning agreements with landowners, local governments, and other stakeholders to prepare plans that identify the most important areas for a threatened or endangered species. The federal government has a similar program under Section 10(a) of the federal Endangered Species Act providing for the preparation of habitat conservation plans (HCPs). In California, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Wildlife Agencies) have worked to combine the NCCP program with the federal HCP process to provide permits to take 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 state and federal permits.

The Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) is a long-term, regional HCP/NCCP focused on balancing two unique aspects of San Diego County: high biological diversity and rapid urban growth. Under this program, large blocks of interconnected habitat will be conserved through acquisition of land by private and public entities and mitigation from development.

The County’s MSCP is comprised of three separate planning areas covering unincorporated regions of San Diego. The MSCP Plans associated with each of the planning areas are the County Subarea Plan (South County Plan), North County Plan, and East County Plan, respectively. Each MSCP Plan Area’s unique geography requires that each MSCP Plan is tailored to meet the needs of the unique habitats and species in its respective area.

The North County Plan will extend the scope of the MSCP to contribute to the conservation of sensitive species and habitats while providing a streamlined permitting process for landowners, agricultural operators, businesses, and residents in the unincorporated regions of northwestern San Diego County. The North County Plan Area encompasses approximately 345,000 acres in and around the unincorporated communities of Bonsall, De Luz, Fallbrook, Harmony Grove, Rancho Santa Fe, Lilac, Pala, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, Ramona, Rincon Springs, Twin Oaks Valley, and Valley Center within the County's jurisdiction.

As a joint HCP/NCCP, the North County Plan will provide the basis for the County to receive a federal and state incidental take permit to “cover” specific animal and plant species. This allows the incidental take permit to be extended to future development projects that comply with the MSCP, so these projects do not have to secure their own separate incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Through this permitting mechanism, the North County Plan will help conserve endangered species, streamline permitting, and facilitate economic growth in San Diego County.