The Environment Element, a component of the Countywide Vision process, completed a work plan and recommended a second phase that could lead to comprehensive habitat planning.
In 2012, reflecting new and invigorated leadership, San Bernardino County formed stakeholder groups to guide efforts on education, housing, economic development, water, the environment, and other components. EHL co-chaired the Environment Element Working Group. Representatives from the business, conservation, local government, and infrastructure sectors attended regular meetings.
With staffing and financial support from both the County and the San Bernardino Association of Governments (SANBAG), the Work Group identified project streamlining and comprehensive habitat planning as dual goals. For streamlining, it secured commitments from state and federal wildlife agencies to participate in early-stage “pre-application” meetings for development projects, so that environmental problems and solutions and regulatory issues can be identified and addressed early on.
With the help of consultants funded by a grant from the Southern California Association of Governments, the Working Group also adopted a consensus-based set of Guiding Principles as a foundation for future habitat planning. The consultants partially completed a “gap analysis” that will allow refinement of conservation strategies, and compiled a “tool kit” that these strategies can draw upon for implementation. In April 2015, the Working Group wrote to the County and SANBAG requesting funds to continue this work.
This Environment Element is the best hope for proactive habitat planning in San Bernardino. It can build upon the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Program and also on two in-process multiple species Habitat Conservation Plans along the Santa Ana River (the Wash Plan and the Upper Santa Ana River HCP). EHL is encouraged by the stakeholder collaboration and local government support to date.