Quino checkerspot butterfly (Quino) is a federally endangered butterfly species native to Southern California with populations in southern San Diego County. Quino is not included as a Covered Species in the Multiple Species Conservation Program’s (MSCP) South County Subarea Plan because not enough was known about local Quino populations at the time of adoption of the South County Subarea Plan in 1997.
Since 1997, more has been learned about local Quino populations while development pressure has grown in southern San Diego County. These factors provide the information and added impetus to add Quino as a Cover Species under the South County Subarea Plan, through the Quino Addition.
The MSCP is a long-term, regional habitat conservation program that protects sensitive species’ habitats while providing economic growth opportunities in San Diego County.
The County of San Diego’s (County) MSCP is comprised of three separate MSCP Plans covering unincorporated regions of San Diego: South County Subarea Plan, North County Plan, and East County Plan. A key component of each MSCP Plan is its Covered Species list that identifies species in each Plan Area in need of habitat protection.
The Covered Species list includes species that are either currently listed as threatened or endangered under the California or Federal Endangered Species Acts or may become listed during the term of the MSCP Plan. These species will be “covered” by the County’s incidental take permit. This means projects that comply with the MSCP Plan will not need separate incidental take permits from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Wildlife Agencies) for potential impacts to Covered Species. Projects will need to demonstrate conformance with the MSCP Plan by complying with the Biological Mitigation Ordinance.
The South County Subarea Plan, adopted in 1997 and permitted in 1998, is currently the only adopted MSCP Plan for the County. It includes 85 species on its Covered Species list. The federally endangered Quino is not currently included on the South County Subarea Plan’s Covered Species list because too little was known about local Quino populations to properly assess conservation needs and potential impacts for the species.
To add Quino as a Covered Species under the South County Subarea Plan, the County is preparing a Quino Addition to the South County Subarea Plan. The knowledge gained about local Quino populations, since the adoption of the South County Subarea Plan, allows the County to move forward with the Quino Addition. Development pressure in the South County Plan Area, especially in locations of known Quino populations and habitat, adds to the need for the Quino Addition in order to provide regional conservation strategies for Quino.
The Quino Addition’s key purpose is to add Quino as a Covered Species to the South County Subarea Plan. To fulfill this purpose, the Quino Addition will focus on Quino-specific components needed to assess impacts and provide conservation for Quino. These Quino-specific components include the Conservation Analysis, the Conservation Strategy, monitoring and management protocols, and implementing tools.
The Conservation Analysis will assess how to best conserve Quino populations by evaluating Quino population status and trends; potential Quino habitat within the South County Subarea; and potential impacts from development, covered activities, and other threats. The Conservation Analysis will inform the creation of the Conservation Strategy’s goals and objectives.
The Conservation Strategy is based on the biological needs of Quino. It defines what the County is committing to for conserving local Quino populations and receiving an incidental take permit. The goals of the Conservation Strategy serve as guiding principles to describe desired future conditions for local Quino populations. The objectives of the Conservation Strategy outline how to achieve the goals and provide direction for determining monitoring and management needs. Additionally, there will be specific conservation measures dictating how to carry out the goals and objectives such as avoiding impacts through project design and restoration of degraded habitat.
Monitoring of Quino populations and habitat will measure progress toward achieving the Conservation Strategy’s goals and objectives. Baseline surveys will be conducted to provide baseline data on the distribution of Quino and Quino habitat. Long-term Quino and Quino habitat monitoring will be conducted to enhance knowledge on long-term Quino population trends, Quino habitat requirements, and the quality and quantity of Quino habitat over time. Information gathered from monitoring will inform management needs for Quino populations and habitat. Management will primarily focus on maintaining and enhancing native habitat suitable for Quino occupancy.
Implementing tools for the Quino Addition include the Biological Mitigation Ordinance (BMO) and funding for acquisition, monitoring, and management of the South County Subarea Plan. The BMO guides mitigation and establishes preserve design criteria. Funding costs are broken down into two main categories: 1.) one-time implementation costs, such as land acquisition and baseline surveys and 2.) recurring costs such as biological monitoring and management.