With large scale habitat plans adopted or underway in 22 California counties, EHL is actively in seeking federal and state funds for these programs.
Natural Community Conservation Plans and Habitat Conservation Plans (NCCP/HCPs) like the Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, Orange County Central-Coastal NCCP, and the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program rely on a mix of local, state, and federal acquisition dollars. EHL, along with our partners in the California Habitat Conservation Planning Coalition, has sought language in State Water Bonds that directs funds to watershed protection within our plans and language in a Park Bond that recognizes the huge role that NCCP/HCP lands play in providing trails and recreation for urban areas. We have also pointed out the role land preservation plays in greenhouse gas reduction and therefore its place in California “cap and trade” auction revenues.
On the federal level, on trips organized by the Coalition, we have educated Congressional offices on the need to increase federal funding via the Endangered Species Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A Coalition-commissioned report documenting the economic benefits of advance planning and mitigation proved useful on a trip in March. EHL is also working with Riverside County on an innovative measure to provide federal loan guarantees so that “early money” can flow to the plans. Without funding, both the habitat reserve and the many infrastructure projects the plans support would falter.
The coffers for land acquisition – largely from past bond acts – are nearly empty in California. And over the last decade, federal funding has diminished and not kept pace with the increasing need. While in part attributable to Republican control of the House of Representatives, the Obama Administration has not been a strong leader here, either. We remain most grateful, though, to those State Assemblymembers and Senators and U.S. Representatives and Senators who have worked hard to protect and expand these funding sources.