U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
California

News.bytes News.bytes Extra, issue 217

ISSUE UPDATE: Coachella Valley Plan

(California Desert Conservation Area Plan Amendment for the Coachella Valley)

PURPOSE:
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is implementing the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) Plan Amendment for the Coachella Valley (2002), as well as the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Management Plan (2004). BLM is a cooperator on the Trails Plan element of the pending Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP).

ISSUES:
Current Status: The CDCA Plan Amendment for the Coachella Valley, which was designed to complement the MSHCP, was approved in 2002. The Final MSHCP was approved and the associated EIR was certified by the Executive Committee of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) in early February 2006. Local jurisdictions (city councils / county supervisors) and other potential permittees have until June 1, 2006 to vote on the plan. The Trails Plan for the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains is an element of the MSHCP; the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Management Plan (2004) deferred trails management decisions for federal lands to the MSHCP process. BLM is a cooperator with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS, lead agency) on the EIS; CVAG is the project lead for the MSHCP and lead agency for the EIR. BLM will issue a separate decision regarding the Trails Plan on public lands based on the EIS; U.S. Forest Service lands within the National Monument are largely not affected by the plan.

The Coachella Valley lies within the Colorado Desert and provides habitat for a number of federally listed and candidate species. Sixty percent of the lands within the Coachella Valley are in private ownership, with the remaining lands under the jurisdiction of the BLM, FWS, National Park Service, California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service and various native American tribes, such as the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Pressure for resort, commercial and residential development and the need for open space and wildlife habitat has intensified in recent years. In September 1994, CVAG, representing Riverside County and the nine incorporated cities of the region, took the lead in developing a multiple species HCP. The goal of the plan is to ensure long-term survival of the valley's unique ecosystem and to streamline the permitting process for development proposals on private lands. The plan covers about 1.2 million acres, with some 330,000 acres administered by the BLM. The planning process follows that used by the FWS and the State of California’s Natural Communities Conservation Plans (NCCP).
The CDCA Plan Amendment for the Coachella Valley, designed to complement the MSHCP, was completed in 2002. The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Management Plan, which also amends the CDCA Plan, was completed in 2004.

SUMMARY:

The BLM has worked collaboratively with CVAG, wildlife agencies, and local organizations to develop the Trails Plan element of the Coachella Valley MSHCP. The CDCA Plan Amendment for the Coachella Valley was largely developed in support of the MSHCP.

2/7/06

News.bytes, Issue 217