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Mount Hermon June Beetle
Mount Hermon June Beetle

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Band-winged Grasshopper

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Ben Lomond Spineflower

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Ben Lomond buckwheat
Zayante Sandhills Conservation Bank


“How To” Permit Projects in the Zayante Sandhills

This page includes information designed to help Sandhills property owners answer the following frequently asked questions regarding permitting projects in the Zayante Sandhills:
1. Do I need an Incidental Take Permit for my project?
2. How can I receive an Incidental Take Permit for my project?
3. What steps do I need to take to obtain an Incidental Take Permit through the Interim Programmatic Habitat Conservation Plan?
4. What steps do I need to take to obtain an Incidental Take Permit through an individual Habitat Conservation Plan?
This general information is designed to help landowners understand the permitting process. Landowners should contact the agencies directly to discuss their projects and specific permitting processes and requirements.

1. Do I need an Incidental Take Permit for my project?
Incidental take permits (ITPs) are required for activities that "take" (or harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect) threatened or endangered species. In central Santa Cruz County, development projects located on sand soils of the Zayante series can inadvertently (or “incidentally”) take several federally endangered species endemic to the unique Zayante Sandhills habitat, including the Mount Hermon June beetle. To permit such impacts, which are otherwise illegal under the Endangered Species Act, the US Fish and Wildlife Service can issue an ITP which authorizes the incidental take of a listed species during the course of an otherwise legal activity, such as development. It is important to note that the ITP authorizes take, not the activities that result in take, so landowners will also need to obtain relevant project permits from their local jurisdiction (County or City).

Determining whether a project requires an ITP requires evaluation of the aspects of the project and the habitat in which it will be conducted to determine whether it will result in take of Mount Hermon June beetle or other endangered species. The following is a list of steps landowners should take to evaluate whether their project will require an incidental take permit. These steps are illustrated in a flow chart.

A. Landowners Design Project and Present Project Plans to Local Jurisdiction Landowners should present project plans to the permit departments in their local jurisdiction: County of Santa Cruz or City of Scotts Valley. Plans can be conceptual at this stage; planners need know the project location (assessor parcel number) and general description of the project (type of development, size of development)

B. Planners Determine whether project is located in Sandhills habitat Planners at the local jurisdiction with use a Geographic Information System to evaluate characteristics of the proposed project site which can influence development, including zoning, slopes, and sensitive habitats. If the proposed project is in any area known or likely to support Sandhills habitat, a habitat evaluation will be needed.

C. Planners or consulting biologists conduct project site evaluation Landowners arrange to have a planner from the local jurisdiction or qualified consultant evaluate characteristics of the proposed project and site to determine whether the project is likely to cause take of an endangered species. In the case of the Mount Hermon June beetle, projects that cause ground disturbance in Zayante soils will remove individuals and or their habitat and thus cause take. Other endangered sandhills species can be affected by other activities. If the habitat evaluation indicates that the project will result in take of a federally endangered species, and if the project cannot be redesigned to avoid take, then the landowner will need to obtain an incidental take permit to conduct their project in compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act.

2. How can I receive an Incidental Take Permit (ITP)?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues Incidental Take Permits (ITPs) following approval of a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP): a document that describes measures that will be taken to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts of the project on threatened or endangered species.
The City of Scotts Valley, County of Santa Cruz, and USFWS have developed an Interim Programmatic HCP: an HCP that will provide an ITP to landowners whose projects meet the eligibility requirements, and who agree to take the required steps to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts of the projects on endangered species. Landowners whose projects do not meet the IPHCP eligibility requirements can work with the USFWS to prepare an individual HCP for their own project.

The following steps will help landowners evaluate whether they are eligible receive an Incidental Take Permit through partificipation in the Interim Programmatic Habitat Conservation Plan (IPHCP), or whether they will need to submit an individual Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to obtain an ITP for their project.

A. Landowners Design Project and Present Project Plans to Local Jurisdiction Landowners should present project plans to the permit departments in their local jurisdiction: County of Santa Cruz or City of Scotts Valley. Plans can be conceptual at this stage; planners need know the project location (assessor parcel number) and general description of the project (type of development, size of development).

B. Planners evaluate whether project meets the IPHCP eligibility requirements Planners at the local jurisdiction will evaluate whether the proposed project, as described or planned, will meet the eligibility requirements for the IPHCP, which include:

i. Project is an activity that is permitted by the local jurisdiction.
ii. Project is located on a parcel within one of the designated IPHCP Project Units
iii. Project is located on a parcel that is 1.5 acres or less in size.
iv. Project is residential or appurtenant in nature.
v. The project development envelope, when combined with the development envelope for any project previously implemented on the same parcel using the IPHCP, will not exceed 15,000 square feet on a single parcel. For the purposes of this IPHCP, development envelope is defined as:


Any portion of the project site that will undergo ground disturbance and/or the following activities: grading (excavation and/or fill); land clearing; building; paving; installation of landscaping; or deposition of refuse or debris.

If the project meets all of the above eligibility criteria, landowners should apply to receive an ITP through participation in the IPHCP. If the project fails to meet one or more of the eligibility criteria, landowners should prepare an individual HCP.

3. What steps do I need to take to obtain an Incidental Take Permit through the Interim Programmatic Habitat Conservation Plan?

Landowners conducting projects that meet the eligibility criteria of the Interim Programmatic Habitat Conservation Plan (IPHCP) can receive an Incidental Take Permit by submitting a completed application to their local jurisdiction (County of Santa Cruz or City of Scotts Valley).

The following are steps that will be taken in applying for an ITP through the IPHCP.

A. Landowner prepares and submits IPHCP Application to Local Jurisdiction Landowners will prepare an application to participate in the IPHCP. It is recommended that prior to preparing the application, landowners evaluate the eligibility of their project using the Eligibility Checklist, which planners at the local jurisdictions will use in reviewing the application.

B. Planner at Local Jurisdiction Evaluates Project Eligibility With the aid of a GIS database, planners will evaluate the eligibility of the project based on the IPHCP Eligibility Criteria. Projects that fail to meet one or more criteria will need to prepare and submit their own HCP is they cannot be redesigned to meet all criteria.

C. Planner or Consulting Biologist will Conduct Habitat Evaluation Landowners will arrange with a planner for the local jurisdiction or a qualified biologist to conduct a habitat evaluation, to ensure that the project is indeed eligible for permitting under the IPHCP. The occurrence of endangered species for which take is not permitted through the IPHCP would necessitate submission of an individual HCP. Provided the project is eligible, planners calculate the disturbance envelope, and thus determine the number of conservation credits that the landowner will need to purchase to mitigate the project impacts.

D. Landowner Purchase Conservation Credits to Mitigate Project Impacts In order to mitigate project impacts as required in the IPHCP, landowner will need to purchase the required number of conservation credits from the Zayante Sandhills Conservation Bank and provide the local jurisdiction a copy of their sales agreement. Landowners seeking to mitigate their project impacts through alternative mechanisms will need to provide proof of such mitigation, as described in the IPHCP.

E. Planners review application and issue “Certificate of Inclusion” Upon approval of an IPHCP application, the local jurisdiction will issue the landowner a certificate of inclusion to participate in the IPHCP, which provides an incidental take permit for Mount Hermon June beetle. The landowner is then required to complete the project per the avoidance and minimization measures and to complete post-project monitoring as described in the IPHCP.

4. What steps do I need to take to obtain an Incidental Take Permit through and individual Habitat Conservation Plan?

Landowners whose projects do not meet the eligibility criteria of the Interim Programmatic Habitat Conservation Plan (IPHCP) can receive an Incidental Take Permit by submitting to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service an Individual Habitat Conservation Plan.

The following are the general steps landowners will take to obtain an Incidental Take Permit by submitting an individual HCP. Detailed information about the components and process of an HCP is provided on the USFWS website. A good place to start is to call a qualified biologist to do a site assessment and evaluate characteristics of the proposed project and site to determine whether the project is likely to cause take of an endangered species. In the case of the Mount Hermon June beetle, projects that cause ground disturbance in Zayante soils will remove individuals and or their habitat and thus cause take. Other endangered sandhills species can be affected by other activities. If the habitat evaluation indicates that the project will result in take of a federally endangered species, and if the project cannot be redesigned to avoid take, then the landowner will need to obtain an incidental take permit to conduct their project in compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act.


Determine whether to participate
in the IPHCP or individual HCP
Landowner Steps Local Jurisdiction Permitting
Design Project
and present plans
to Local Juristiction

Planners Examine Property Information in GIS
Is Project Mapped As Sandhills
No
Yes
Re-Design Project Biologist Conduct Project Site Habitat evaluation
Will Project Disturb Sandhills Habitat No Federal ITP Required, obtain local permit

Yes
Can Project be Re-Designed to Avoid Disturbance
No
Federal ITP Required In Addition To Local Permits
Does the Project meet the eligibility for the IPHCP


No
Obtain ITP from USFWS by Submitting an HCP
Purchase Conservation Credits and Present Copy of Sales Agreement Obtain an ITP from Local Jusisdiction through the IPHCP

Site Assessment Qualified Biologists:

Entomological Consulting Services, Ltd.
104 Mountain View Court
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523-2188
Richard A. Arnold, Ph.D.
Phone: 925-825-3784
Fax:925-827-1809

Jodi M. McGraw, Ph.D.
Population and Community Ecologist
PO Box 883
Boulder Creek, CA 95006
Phone: (831) 338-1990

More Information:
  • Do you Live in the Sandhills? (Service Area)
  • Submit your property information (Form)




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