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MSCP Plan Summary

Photo of purple San Diego Mesa Mint

Purple San Diego mesa mint carpets
a vernal pool at Montgomery Field

The Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) is a comprehensive habitat conservation planning program for southwestern San Diego County. The MSCP will preserve a network of habitat and open space, protecting biodiversity and enhancing the region's quality of life. The MSCP will also provide an economic benefit by reducing constraints on future development and decreasing the costs of compliance with federal and state laws protecting biological resources. The MSCP Plan has been developed cooperatively by participating jurisdictions and special districts in partnership with the wildlife agencies, property owners, and representatives of the development industry and environmental groups. The plan is designed to preserve native vegetation and meet the habitat needs of multiple species, rather than focusing preservation efforts on one species at a time. By identifying priority areas for conservation and other areas for future development, the MSCP will streamline existing permit procedures for development projects which impact habitat.

Many native vegetation communities in the region are considered sensitive because they have been greatly reduced in distribution by development. San Diego County contains over 200 plant and animal species that are federally and/or state listed as endangered, threatened, or rare; proposed or candidates for listing; or otherwise are considered sensitive. Over half of these species occur in the MSCP study area. The MSCP will protect habitat for over 1000 native and nonnative plant species and more than 380 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Photo of Man Using Mobile GIS

Mobile GIS is used to collect
and catalog data in the field

The proposed assembly of the MSCP preserve is based on the policies that public lands be incorporated to the greatest extent possible and that private property rights be fully respected and upheld. Private lands acquired with public funds for the preserve will only be acquired from willing sellers. The MSCP is also based on the equitable distribution of costs.

Local jurisdictions and special districts will implement their portions of the MSCP Plan through subarea plans, which describe specific implementing mechanisms. The MSCP Plan, with its attached subarea plans, will serve as: 1) a multiple species Habitat Conservation Plan pursuant to Section 10(a) of the federal Endangered Species Act; and, 2) a Natural Community Conservation Program (NCCP) Plan pursuant to the California NCCP Act of 1991 and the state Endangered Species Act. Once approved, the MSCP and subarea plans will replace interim restrictions on impacts to coastal sage scrub, as a result of the federal listing of the California gnatcatcher as threatened, and will allow the incidental take of other Covered Species as specified in the plan.