County Conservation Team Collaborates at National Habitat Conservation Plan Coalition’s Annual Meeting


The National Habitat Conservation Plan Coalition (Coalition) is a national nonprofit that advances the use of regional Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) across the U.S. and its territories. HCP is a planning document that endeavors to conserve the habitats of sensitive species, particularly those listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, and thus contributes to their recovery.

The mission of the Coalition is to further the use, effectiveness of, and support for large scale HCPs as local solutions facilitating economic development and the conservation of threatened and endangered species and their habitats.

Sign welcoming guests to HCP Annual Meeting

Each year the Coalition gathers at an Annual Meeting to celebrate this focused community of practice with days full of lectures, field trips, and remarkable keynote speakers. The Annual Meeting brings together HCP practitioners from across the country, including federal, state, and local agency staff, consultants, stakeholders, policy experts, and scientists.

The 2022 Annual Meeting took place from October 24-27 in Austin, Texas. Our Conservation Team attended to learn more about how HCPs are being implemented across the country and network with other conservation professionals to gain insight into the cutting-edge and upcoming strategies for successful regional conservation. Agenda topics included strategies for successful land acquisition, management, and monitoring, improving landscape connectivity and permeability with wildlife crossings, considering climate change, innovations in monitoring and adaptive management, and evaluating HCP costs and benefits. Keynote speakers included Amy Lueders, United States Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director of the Southwest Region, and Suzanne Scott, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas.

In addition to the informative presentations, field trips highlighted the local efforts being undertaken by those implementing HCPs to protect the various endangered species in Texas. Stephanie attended the Edwards Aquifer field trip, which highlighted the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan (EAHCP) that covers the jurisdiction of the Edwards Aquifer Authority.

San Marcos Aquatic Resource Center

The EAHCP covers several threatened and endangered species that inhabit the aquifer and spring systems. The first stop on the tour was a visit to the San Marcos Aquatic Resource Center (SMARC). During the visit, we learned about husbandry and applied research of the EAHCP covered species, the Barton Springs HCP and freshwater mussel conservation efforts. We also got to experience up-close observations of the endangered Houston toad, Texas blind salamander, Barton Springs salamander, and propagation techniques for Texas wild-rice.

The second stop of the Edwards Aquifer Tour was a visit to the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment near Texas State University. The Meadows Center tour included a glass bottom boat ride over Spring Lake, viewing of several threatened and endangered species up close in the aquarium facility, and walking along the wetlands educational boardwalk.

Congress Avenue Bridge, Austin, TX

Austin, Texas has plenty of opportunities for the public to engage in the local wildlife conservation efforts. One of the most visited local Austin attractions each year are the Congress Avenue Bridge bats. From March through September of each year, nearly one and a half million bats in Austin call the South Congress Bridge home. People are simply batty for Austin’s world-renowned Mexico free-tailed bats and their night flight of 60-plus miles per hour and 2-mile high flight patterns, and feeding frenzy of Austin insects. The bats in Austin are medium-sized bats with broad, black, forward-pointing ears, and wrinkled lips, long and narrow wings. They eat roughly 20-30 thousand pounds of insects on each night flight. Drawn to areas with water access and warm conditions, most bats in Austin delight in moths, crickets, grasshoppers, and Texas-size mosquitoes.

If you’d like to learn more about the Coalition and participate in future events, please visit: