The County of San Diego is in the process of developing a habitat conservation plan (the last of three) for the eastern unincorporated area. The habitat conservation plans will work together to protect sensitive plants, animals, and their habitats in the unincorporated areas. At present, the South County Subarea Plan is being implemented and draft North County Plan is in process.
The East County Study Area covers approximately 1.6 million acres and is bounded on the west generally by the western boundary of the Cleveland National Forest, on the north by the Riverside County, and on the east predominantly by Imperial County, and the south by Mexico. Tribal lands are excluded from the Study Area. The purpose of the East County Plan is to protect key plant and animal species and habitats within the County. This plan will maintain or improve the status of threatened and endangered species and reduce the need for future listings of species under the federal and state endangered species acts. The East County Plan provide for conservation while accommodating continued economic growth.
The East County Plan is a cooperative effort among the County,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and California Department of Fish and Game. Authority for this process comes from the California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act and section 10(a) of the federal Endangered Species Act that addresses habitat conservation plans.
Implementation of this program will result in the issuance of a permit to the County for incidental take of threatened and endangered species. Once the County obtains take authorization, it can provide third-party beneficiary status to applicants for projects that conform to the standards of the plan. The overall effect of the East County Plan is creation of a large, connected preserve that addresses the regional habitat needs for multiple species. The East County Plan will potentially provide coverage for many of the 253 sensitive species.
STUDY AREA VS. PLAN AREA
The East County Study Area covers approximately 1.6 million acres in eastern San Diego County. The County only has land use authority over private parcels which account for approximately 27% (418,930 acres) of the Study Area. This portion of the Study Area is referred to as the Plan Area. The Plan Area includes the backcountry communities of Central Mountain, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Pine Valley, Desert/Borrego Springs, Julian, Mountain Empire, Boulevard, Jacumba, Lake Morena/Campo, Potrero, Tecate, portions of Dulzura, and Palomar/North Mountain. Various maps for the East County Plan are available here.
Although lands owned by state, federal, and tribal governments and city and water district lands are located within the East County Study Area, the County does not have land use authority over those lands. Therefore, these lands will not be relied upon for conserving and gaining coverage for species under the East County Plan, unless mutually agreed upon. However, the County will coordinate with these entities and they can participate on a voluntary basis.
Last updated: March 2009