BLM Managed Lands Can Now be Used for State Conservation Efforts
California wildlife and their habitats will be better protected under a new agreement between the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) that allows the state to use BLM managed lands for conservation actions, including project-level mitigation in certain circumstances.
The Durability Agreement covers public lands in California—including those in the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) area— and includes conservation tools and an application process that the agencies can use to achieve optimal outcomes for conserving wildlife.
Under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), CDFW requires renewable energy project developers to avoid, minimize, and/or compensate for impacts to fish, wildlife, and plants, and their habitats. Developers that cannot avoid or minimize all of the impacts can compensate for the remaining ones by acquiring or placing a conservation easement over private land to protect other habitat.
Yet, oftentimes, public lands provide better habitat for at-risk species than private lands. Given that BLM lands are critically important for sensitive species, the agreement makes BLM conservation lands available for conservation actions, including project-level mitigation in certain circumstances.
Some of the agreement tools include:
- Removing invasive plants
- Fencing of highways and roads to reduce species mortality
- Developing water sources for wildlife
- Using education and outreach efforts and increases in law enforcement to reduce human impacts
The agreement came together as part of the DRECP efforts that the Energy Commission, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Fish & Wildlife and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are developing. The conservation tools can be used to enhance the wildlife and habitat values of the BLM conservation lands in DRECP area and throughout the state.