City of Santa Cruz Anadromous Salmonid Habitat Conservation Plan
NOAA Fisheries is initiating a 30-day public comment period on a notice of receipt (NOR) of an Endangered Species Act Section 10 (a)(1)(B) Incidental Take Permit (ITP) application and availability (NOA) of a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the City of Santa Cruz’s (City) Anadromous Salmonid Habitat Conservation Plan (ASHCP). The proposed action being evaluated in the draft EA is the issuance of an ESA ITP by NOAA Fisheries that would authorize take of the covered species incidental to the covered activities and implementation of the ASHCP Conservation Strategy to mitigate that take. Where the avoidance and minimization measures are insufficient to entirely avoid potential effects to the covered species, the City will provide compensatory mitigation to fully offset those remaining effects. Specifically, the City will fund non-flow conservation actions aimed at habitat enhancement and restoration that provide opportunities to support species recovery. The covered species are endangered Central California Coast (CCC) Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU) coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and threatened CCC Distinct Population Segment (DPS) steelhead (O. mykiss). Covered activities include water diversion, and operation, rehabilitation, replacement, repair and maintenance of conveyance facilities and other existing infrastructure. The City requested that the section 10(a)(1)(B) permit be issued for a period of 30 years.
The primary focus of the City’s conservation strategy is to avoid or minimize potential effects of covered activities to the maximum extent practicable by reducing surface water diversions and second to compensate for remaining effects by contributing to regional, non-flow conservation actions for steelhead and coho. These conservation actions will include improvement of instream habitat, riparian conservation, and prioritization of support for coho hatchery development and operations as well as other related recovery actions.
The City’s HCP is available on their website: https://www.cityofsantacruz.com/government/city-departments/water/habitat-conservation-plan