San Luis Valley Regional Habitat Conservation Plan

What is an HCP?

From U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service HCP Overview.

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) under the Endangered Species Act provide a framework for people to complete projects while conserving at-risk species of plants and animals.  HCPs can help communities plan economic development while ensuring the future of endangered and threatened species. Through large-scale HCPs, stakeholders chart landscape-level strategies and conserve biological diversity.

HCP Background

  • Two bird species protected by federal law are found in the San Luis Valley – southwestern willow flycatcher and yellow-billed cuckoo
  • These birds are found in riparian habitat along major river corridors
  • Impacts to the birds or their habitat (defined as “take”) are subject to regulation under the Endangered Species Act and other laws
  • Individual landowners and local governments in the San Luis Valley are potentially liable for “take” of these species as they conduct otherwise lawful activities

HCP Overview

  • Six counties of the San Luis Valley floor (Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, Saguache) and four municipalities have partnered with the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and the State of Colorado to develop an HCP for the Valley
  • An HCP is a community-based plan to conserve endangered species habitat while allowing private land use and management to continue
  • A completed HCP is necessary to receive an Incidental Take Permit, which authorizes the incidental take of ESA-listed species, provided certain conditions and assurances are met
  • The purpose of the San Luis Valley Regional HCP is to provide landowners and local jurisdictions with legal protection from “incidental take” of the flycatcher and other federally-protected birds

HCP Coverage

The HCP provides for the conservation of the flycatcher and cuckoo while allowing for the continuation of ongoing and routine agriculture, community infrastructure, and riparian conservation and restoration activities in the Valley.

  • Provides incidental take coverage for a specific list of “typical and routine” agricultural, infrastructure, and conservation activities
  • Does not cover land development or major water projects
  • Does not provide coverage for federal agencies

Habitat Impacts and Mitigation

  • The HCP quantifies the impacts of all covered activities (i.e., ditch clearing, grazing, road maintenance, stream restoration)
  • Impacts of covered activities must be mitigated by habitat conservation or enhancement
  • The HCP must maintain enough mitigation acres to offset the impact acres


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Endangered Species Habitat Conservation Planning

USGS Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Site

Rio Grande Water Conservation District

ERO Resources Corporation

Hill & Robbins P.C.

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