South County Plan

The San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) Plan for the southwestern portion of San Diego County was approved in 1998 and covers 85 species. The City of San Diego, portions of the unincorporated County, and ten additional city jurisdictions make up the San Diego MSCP Plan Area. The County Subarea Plan (South County Plan) was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in October 1997. 

The goal of the South County Plan is to acquire or permanently protect 98,379 acres in the unincorporated area. Since 1998, thousands of acres of land have been added to the MSCP by local, State, and Federal agencies.

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MSCP Annual Reports go before the Board of Supervisors every spring. Click above to see the most recent annual report and subscribe below to receive hearing updates as they become 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 San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) is the result of six years of intense planning and review by a diverse group of private conservationists, developers, and a number of public agencies, including the Wildlife Agencies. The City of San Diego, portions of the unincorporated County, and ten additional city jurisdictions make up the San Diego MSCP Plan Area. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the County Subarea Plan (South County Plan) on October 22, 1997. The County of San Diego entered into an Implementing Agreement with the Wildlife Agencies for the South County Plan on March 17, 1998.

The MSCP provides for large, connected preserve areas that address a number of species at the habitat level rather than species-by-species or area-by-area. This creates a more efficient and effective preserve system as well as better protection for the rare, threatened, and endangered species in the region. Mitigation from development and local, state, and federal funding protect land that has been set aside for preservation. This preservation may take the form of an open space or conservation easement that dedicates the land in perpetuity, or actual purchase of fee title by a public agency or environmental land trust. Out of the 582,000-acre area examined under the MSCP, the goal of the South County Plan is to acquire or permanently protect 98,379-acres within the unincorporated area.

Development projects are required to conform with the South County Plan through compliance with the Biological Mitigation Ordinance. How a project conforms varies depending on the development type. 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 reviews each project and determines what is necessary for conformance with the South County Plan.

The County has negotiated and purchased several properties from willing sellers within the MSCP. Major programs are in place to manage, maintain, and monitor plant and animal life on the lands once they are in the preserve in order to ensure the conservation of their unique resources. The County Department of Parks and Recreation is responsible for managing the MSCP lands the County acquires. The County conducts basic stewardship and management activities on County owned lands including trash removal, patrol, signage, fire management, exotic plant species removal, and cultural resource protection. Selected species and habitats are carefully monitored with the goal of ensuring the long-term health of populations of priority plant and animal species.