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Answers to Technical Questions

This page provides additional information about the HMP for question on the FAQ page. Each question below includes an expanded and/or more technical answer and a link back to the original question on the FAQ page. Not all FAQ questions are included below, only questions for which there is additional information.

How is the Carlsbad Preserve System (also called HMP Preserve or HMP Preserve System) being assembled?

Preserve planning for the North County coastal areas began with the initiation of the Multiple Habitat Conservation Program (MHCP) Subregional Plan. The planning area consists of the Cities of Carlsbad, Encinitas, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, Solana Beach, and Vista. Information pertaining to sensitive habitats and species throughout the study area were collected, analyzed, and used to create a Biological Core and Linkage Area (BCLA). The BCLA consisted of larger blocks of undeveloped natural habitats that were connected with habitat linkages, which would allow movement and genetic exchange of plant populations and wildlife. The BCLA represented the idealized regional preserve boundaries, and served as a starting point for additional planning.

Subsequently, MHCP jurisdictions worked with wildlife agencies, property owners, environmental groups, and the Advisory Committee to develop Focus Planning Areas for each jurisdiction, which consisted of existing "hardline" preserve areas (public or private natural lands that were already preserved), and "softline" planning areas, within which future preserve areas would be delineated based on a set of planning guidelines. The Carlsbad HMP Preserve System is being assembled through a combination of the following:

    • Conservation of lands already in public ownership,
    • Private development contributions through development regulations and mitigation of environmental impacts, and
    • Public acquisition of private lands with regional habitat value from willing sellers.

What is the HMP and why was it developed?

The City of Carlsbad's Habitat Management Plan (HMP) serves as the city's subarea plan under the MHCP program. The HMP was developed to provide a blue print for ecosystem-level preserve planning, while allowing economic development in less biologically sensitive areas. The HMP provides development guidelines for the continued assembly of the preserve system and guidelines for preserve management, biological monitoring, compliance monitoring, and public use/access.    

What are the biological goals of the Plan?

The overall goal of the HMP is to contribute to the regional biodiversity and the viability of rare, unique, or sensitive biological resources throughout the City of Carlsbad. The specific biological and conservation objectives of the HMP are to:

    • Conserve the full range of vegetation types remaining in the city, with a focus on rare and sensitive habitats;
    • Conserve rare vegetation communities;
    • Conserve areas of habitat capable of supporting the HMP covered species in perpetuity;
    • Maintain functional wildlife corridors and habitat linkages with the city and the region, including linkages that connect coastal California gnatcatcher populations and movement corridors for large mammals;
    • Maintain functional biological cores;
    • Conserve narrow endemic species and maintain populations of target species; and
    • Apply a "no-net-loss" policy to the conservation of wetlands, riparian habitats, and oak woodland habitats throughout the City, and to coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats within the coastal zone.

What is the Carlsbad Open Space Management Plan (OSMP)?

There are three major components to open space management in the City of Carlsbad:

    • Monitoring and adaptive management of species, habitat condition, and ecological processes;
    • Management of threats and impacts to species and habitats; and
    • Creation and maintenance of recreational, educational, and research opportunities.

The issues addressed in this plan are organized and discussed as they apply across the city, but in practice they will be implemented in the biogeographic and preserve management context of Management Units and Subunits, as defined for the OSMP. Individual preserve managers will identify which management issues affect their particular subunit (preserve area) and will develop and implement area-specific management directives (ASMDs) as part of their individual preserve management plans in coordination with related ASMDs and other management issues throughout the rest of the Management Unit.

What is a Federal Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and Incidental Take Permit?

An incidental take permit is required when non-Federal activities will result in "take" of threatened or endangered wildlife. To obtain a permit, the applicant must develop a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), designed to offset any harmful effects the proposed activity might have on the species. The HCP integrates the applicant's proposed project or activity with the needs of the species. It describes, among other things, the anticipated effect of a proposed taking on the affected species and how that take will be minimized and mitigated. Such information must be submitted with any incidental take permit application. The HCP process allows development to proceed while promoting listed species conservation. The Carlsbad HMP serves as a HCP.

"Take" is defined in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect any threatened or endangered species. Harm may include significant habitat modification where it actually kills or injures a listed species through impairment of essential behavior (e.g., nesting or reproduction). See USFWS Habitat Conservation Plans for more information.

What is the Natural Communities Conservation Program (NCCP)?

The Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) program of the Department of Fish and Wildlife is a cooperative effort to protect habitats and species. The program, which began in 1991 under the State's Natural Community Conservation Planning Act is an unprecedented effort by the State of California, and numerous private and public partners, that takes a broad-based ecosystem approach to planning for the protection and conservation of biological diversity. The NCCP program is broader in its orientation and objectives than the California and Federal Endangered Species Acts. These laws are designed to identify and protect individual species that have already significantly declined in number or distribution. An NCCP identifies and provides for the regional or area-wide protection of plants, animals, and their habitats, while allowing compatible and appropriate economic development. The HMP is a type of NCCP Plan.  See CDFG's Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) website for more information.

What is the Multiple Habitat Conservation Program (MHCP)?

The Multiple Habitat Conservation Program (MHCP) is a comprehensive, multiple jurisdictional planning program designed to develop an ecosystem preserve in northwestern San Diego County.  Implementation of the regional preserve system is intended to protect viable populations of key sensitive plant and animal species and their habitats, while accommodating continued economic development and maintaining quality of life for residents of this north county region.  The MHCP is one of several large multiple jurisdictional habitat planning efforts in San Diego County each of which constitutes a subregional plan under the State of California's Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) Act of 1991.

The current MHCP study area encompasses approximately 29,962 acres of natural habitat across seven incorporated cities in northwestern San Diego County (Carlsbad, Encinitas, Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, Solana Beach, and Vista).  These jurisdictions will implement their respective portions of the MHCP plan through citywide "subarea" plans, which describe the specific implementing mechanisms each city will institute for the MHCP.  The seven subarea plans will contribute collectively to the conservation of biological communities and species in the MHCP study area.  In turn, the MHCP plan, in concert with other subregional plans, will contribute to continued ecosystem viability in southern coastal California.

What is mitigation?

Mitigation consists of measures undertaken to diminish or compensate for the negative impacts of a project or activity on the environment, including: (a) avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action; (b) minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation; (c) rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment; (d) reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action; or (e) compensating for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or habitats. Much of the preserve system is being built as mitigation for environmental impacts caused by development projects in the city.