In 1998, dozens of conservation and neighborhood groups formed the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection (Coalition), with the purpose of developing and implementing the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (SDCP).
A major component of the SDCP, and the focus of the Coalition’s work, is the “Pima County Multi-Species Conservation Plan” (PCMSCP). The PCMSCP seeks to formalize how Pima County will comply with the Endangered Species Act in the unincorporated area of the County through a variety of conservation measures targeting both endangered and threatened species and their habitat.
There have been a number of conservation plans adopted throughout the nation; unfortunately most of these plans have not resulted in the conservation of endangered and threatened species. With few exceptions, species have continued to decline under these approved plans, while the regulated communities have long-term protection from liability for the impacts to species’ habitats.
Today, in Pima County, we have a chance to achieve measurable conservation, by protecting vulnerable species and important habitat, and restoring connectivity between core habitat areas. With the SDCP and PCMSCP, we have an opportunity to not only protect the Sonoran Desert ecosystem but create a new threshold for Endangered Species Act compliance that will benefit communities throughout the country as they struggle with these same issues.
Pima County recently released the Final Draft of the plan; it is currently scheduled for approval by the Board of Supervisors, and subsequent submittal to the US Fish and Wildlife Service this spring for review. The review will include a formal public comment period pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, including review of an Environmental Impact Statement.
The full text of the Final Draft MSCP can be found at: http://www.pima.gov/cmo/sdcp/MSCP/MSCP.html.