Under the agreement, FWS issued the utility a 30-year incidental take permit for operations and maintenance activities in the nine Bay Area counties. The HCP includes strategies to avoid, minimize, and offset potential direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of PG&E’s O&M and minor new construction activities on 32 threatened or endangered species. The parties are hailing the landscape-scale plan as an improvement over the project-by-project process they previously operated under, as it will enable PG&E to complete projects more quickly while protecting more land for mitigation and increasing opportunities for passive recreation such as hiking and bird watching. However, some environmental groups are concerned that the plan does not cover several species that should have been included. In addition, says Arthur Feinstein of the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, the protocols under which PG&E will operate have not been made public, and the permit allows most of PG&E’s activities to be carried out by company employees with no training in wildlife biology and without oversight by FWS.  CHT

A wide-ranging Habitat Conservation Plan that could eventually protect up to 4800 acres of endangered species habitat in the Bay Area is the linchpin of a November agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Under the agreement, FWS issued the utility a 30-year incidental take permit for operations and maintenance activities in the nine Bay Area counties. The HCP includes strategies to avoid, minimize, and offset potential direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of PG&E’s O&M and minor new construction activities on 32 threatened or endangered species. The parties are hailing the landscape-scale plan as an improvement over the project-by-project process they previously operated under, as it will enable PG&E to complete projects more quickly while protecting more land for mitigation and increasing opportunities for passive recreation such as hiking and bird watching. However, some environmental groups are concerned that the plan does not cover several species that should have been included. In addition, says Arthur Feinstein of the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, the protocols under which PG&E will operate have not been made public, and the permit allows most of PG&E’s activities to be carried out by company employees with no training in wildlife biology and without oversight by FWS.  CHT

About the author

Cariad Hayes Thronson covers legal and political issues for Estuary News. She has served on the staffs of several national publications, including The American Lawyer. She is a long-time contributor to Estuary News, and some years ago served as its assistant editor. She lives in San Mateo with her husband and two children.