Comparing Perspective of Participants and Outside Commentators on Habitat Conservation Plans

Opperman, Jeff J.; Bernazzani, Paola
May 2003
Endangered Species Update;May/Jun2003, Vol. 20 Issue 3, p79
Academic Journal
Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) have become the primary mechanism by which the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is implemented on private land. Due to the dramatic increase in the number and size of plans, numerous scientists, conservation organizations, and other outside commentators have evaluated the HCP program. These reviews share several common themes including concern over HCP data adequacy and regulatory assurances as well as recommendations to increase participation and independent scientific review during HCP development. This paper briefly reviews these common themes and then analyzes interview responses from 121 participants of 31 plans in light of these issues. In general, participants' concerns and recommendations were different from those of outside reviewers. Participants generally felt that the data used in plans were adequate or more than adequate for the decisions that were made and they did not recommend using independent review to improve data quality. The most frequent problems and recommendations identified by participants involved political, economic, social, and logistical issues, rather than scientific issues. Participants' most common concern was the duration of time required to develop a plan. Regulatory assurances were the most frequent motivating factor named by HCP applicants. Because of the complexity of HCP processes, recommendations aimed at improving the conservation value of HCPs are more likely to be adopted and implemented if they are bundled with mechanistic proposals for how these changes can be effectively integrated into complex, expensive, and lengthy processes.


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