After close to two decades of planning, Pima County’s Multi-Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) has become a reality. On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, the Pima County Board of Supervisors gave their final stamp of approval to this long-awaited conservation plan.
With conservationists, homebuilder, realtors, ranchers, and developers on board, this plan will protect 44 Sonoran Desert wildlife species. These species include seven that are currently listed as endangered. The remaining 37 species could become endangered during the 30-year life of the plan.
“While many regional Habitat Conservation Plan have been approved before, Pima County’s MSCP is unique in that local officials truly embrace the intent of the Endangered Species Act,” said the Coalition’s Director, Carolyn Campbell. “This plan takes a regional approach to conservation and will protect not only the 44 covered species but also a diverse range of habitats found within the Sonoran Desert.”
Pima County’s MSCP is part of an application for an Incidental Take Permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fish and Wildlife granted this permit in July 2016. On September 6, the Board of Supervisors approved the “Implementation Agreement” for the plan, which outlines the various responsibilities of the County and Fish and Wildlife as the plan is executed. By voting to approve this agreement, the clock has officially started on the 30-year plan.
Steve Huffman, government affairs director for the Tucson Association of Realtors, described the MSCP as a “win, win, win,” for the county, developers and conservationists.
The MSCP is one piece of Pima County’s larger Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. This nationally-recognized plan also includes a substantial open space preserve system throughout Pima County, which will serve as mitigation lands under the MSCP. Since 1997, Pima County has protected over 200,000 acres of open space, either through the lease of State Trust Lands or through outright purchases.
This preserve system allows the County to also include private development under the permit, one reason why the plan is supported by developers. One of the larger goals of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan is to balance development and conservation, directing development to appropriate areas and protecting the most biologically-rich places of the region.
Thank you to all our supporters for their persistent and passionate support for the MSCP and the Coalition over the past 18 years – this accomplishment is yours too!