A Carrizo Plain National Monument sign stands in a large valley with mountains in the background.
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Rafting the Kern River Three Pump Jacks, Midway-Sunset Oilfield Painted Rock. Carrizo Plain National Monument. Poppy Piedras Blancas Lightstation, San Simeon
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Chapter 9
Biological Resources Management Guidelines

Introduction

The management objectives and allocations chapter of this RMP provides direction for the management of biological resources within the Caliente Resource Area. Guidelines for the management of other activities, such as oil and gas development and livestock grazing, have been developed so that these activities will be carried out consistent with the direction established for biological resources. Special areas with significant biological resources are also recognized in this RMP as ACEC's or SMA's.

This chapter contains the specific biological resource information that will be used in conjunction with the guidelines found in other chapters of this RMP. In addition, this chapter includes a strategy for how public lands will be managed to contribute to the conservation of San Joaquin Valley endemic species.

Conservation Strategy

A Conservation Strategy for Threatened and Endangered Species in the San Joaquin Valley

Background

Public land in the Valley Management Area constitutes a high percentage of the remaining natural land in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. These natural lands provide important habitat for several federal and state listed plant and animal species, as well as many other species that are endemic to the region.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 mandates that federal agencies, including the Bureau, carry out programs for the conservation of threatened and endangered species. Bureau policy, as stated in Bureau Manual Section 6840 and policy statements such as Fish and Wildlife 2000, further guides how Bureau lands will be managed to meet the mandate for conservation programs.

The Endangered Species Act also directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop Recovery Plans for threatened and endangered species. These Recovery Plans provide the strategy that all agencies and organizations can implement to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive approach to species conservation and recovery. Currently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working on the final draft of the San Joaquin Valley Multispecies Recovery Plan.

The Multispecies Recovery Plan will provide a framework for recovery efforts within the San Joaquin Valley region.  Local governments, industry, private landowners and local offices of state and federal agencies will determine how the regional framework will be implemented for their local area. Part of the concept is to develop local plans that can be applied consistently by local, state and federal governments within the local planning area. To assist with the local plan development, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is cooperating with local governments to develop Habitat Conservation Plans that integrate recovery objectives with the planning activities of local, state and federal governments.

Public land in the San Joaquin Valley plays a key role in many of these local plans. This section will address how the Bureau will integrate with these emerging local plans.

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Regional Conservation Strategy

The foundation of the regional conservation strategy is a system of reserves and connecting corridors. Through assessments of remaining natural land habitats, a reserve system concept was developed to conserve the best remaining habitats of the San Joaquin Valley natural communities. Several large keystone reserves, several small specialty reserves, and connecting corridors linking many of the reserves have been proposed. The large reserves are intended to maintain and conserve multiple plant and animal listed species as a natural community, while the small reserves are designed to conserve a particular species or unique natural feature. These reserves would be managed for long-term conservation of the listed plants and animals, and the natural communities on which they depend, but would allow for a variety of land uses managed in a compatible manner. Both large and small reserves are necessary to conserve the Valley's biological resources.

A generalized reserve system map has been developed that identifies the keystone reserves, small specialty reserves, and connecting corridors. The specific boundaries of reserves and connecting corridors will be developed during local planning efforts, such as the Valley Floor Habitat Conservation Planning project. Currently the Valley Floor Habitat Conservation Planning project identifies eight separate reserves: Interstate 5 East, Allensworth Extension, Semitropic, Goose Lake, Buttonwillow, Lokern, Buena Vista Valley and Kern Lake. There are two additional reserves located outside the Valley Floor Habitat Conservation Planning project: Cuyama Valley and Carrizo Plain.

Reserves include both large, multi-species reserves and small specialty reserves. These areas would be managed primarily for listed plants and animals. While other compatible resource uses could occur, they would be designed to maintain habitat quality and species' populations. Management of the reserves would be assured by fee acquisition, by Federal, State, or local agencies, chartered conservation organizations, conservation easements, or long-term cooperative agreements with existing landowners. Emphasis is to maintain a certain percentage of the native lands as high quality habitat and rehabilitate non-native lands as they become available for purchase, easement, or agreement. A threshold for habitat disturbance from energy mineral development, roads and existing facilities would be established. Reserves and connecting corridors would have different thresholds for habitat disturbance. Compensation of new habitat disturbance within the threshold would be at a standard rate for uses that are considered permanent habitat loss and at another standard rate for temporary habitat loss. Currently, the compensation rate is 3:1 for permanent habitat loss and 1.1:1 for temporary habitat loss.

Connecting corridors are comprised of native lands and agricultural lands to be managed for maintaining interchange and gene flow between the primary reserves and for maintaining supplemental populations between reserves.  Emphasis is to maintain a certain percentage of native lands as moderate to high quality habitat, and maintain a certain percentage of the agricultural lands in agricultural production or fallow. A certain percentage of these lands would be available for urban, industrial or other land uses that are considered permanent habitat loss. Land would be designed to maintain corridor integrity as extant habitat and for movements. Corridors would not be severed by permanent habitat loss from urban-industrial uses. All habitat loss would be compensated at a standard rate and compensation would be directed to the reserve areas. Currently the compensation rate is 3:1 for permanent habitat loss. Compensation could also be directed back to the corridor on a limited basis. Corridors would not normally be acquired by purchase, but would be subject to conservation easements and agreements. However, some parcels essential to maintain corridors or buffers may need to be purchased.

On native lands outside the reserve and corridor system, there will not be an emphasis on management for the retention of habitat values. Most of these lands have some habitat value and many of these areas may be valuable sources of plant and animal populations in the short-term. Most of these values will continue to exist unless there are dramatic changes in current land uses.

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Bureau Conservation Program

At the present time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working on the final draft of the San Joaquin Valley Multi-species Recovery Plan; several local Habitat Conservation Plans are also being developed. As these plans are finalized, the specific nomenclature and boundaries of the Bureau conservation program will be refined to match the final Multi-species Recovery Plan and local Habitat Conservation Plans. The Bureau will continue to be actively involved in the Multi-species Recovery Plan effort and local Habitat Conservation Plan efforts.

The foundation of the regional conservation strategy is a system of reserves and corridors. Five of the reserve areas identified in the regional conservation strategy contain public lands addressed in this Resource Management Plan (Carrizo, Goose Lake, Lokern, Cuyama Valley and Buena Vista Valley). Public land in three of these areas are proposed for designation as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (Carrizo, Goose Lake, Lokern). The public lands in these five areas will be managed for the long-term conservation of the listed plants and animals and the natural communities on which they depend, while still allowing for a variety of land uses managed in a compatible manner.

A majority of the remaining public lands within the Valley Management Area has been identified in the regional conservation strategy as connecting corridors. Public lands in these areas would be managed to maintain linkages between reserve areas.

Public lands within the Valley Management Area specifically excluded from the reserve and corridor system include lands near Freeborn Mountain, San Emigdio, Ventucopa, the upper elevations of the Caliente Range, Taylor Canyon, and the oil production areas from Lost Hills and McKittrick south through Taft and Maricopa. Some of these areas will be addressed in local Habitat Conservation Plans that are currently being developed.

Meeting the Public Need

One goal of the Bureau conservation strategy is to dedicate or reposition public holdings to meet San Joaquin Valley conservation needs so that private lands will have fewer restrictions placed on them. Not only can the Bureau dedicate management of existing holdings to promote recovery and conservation, but the Bureau can reposition some land holdings to better suit private development and better serve public conservation efforts. For example, within the Kern Valley Floor Habitat Conservation Plan Area, the Bureau will manage all public lands within reserves and corridors as conserved lands. These conserved lands will be managed consistent with other conserved lands to promote conservation and recovery. By managing the public lands as conserved lands, it minimizes the amount of private lands that would otherwise need to be identified to meet the goals of the Kern Valley Floor Habitat Conservation Plan.

The Bureau also intends to maintain options for efficient application processing, such as preapproved permitting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (programmatic biological opinions) and the use of local Habitat Conservation Plans. Several programmatic biological opinions have been completed, two pertaining to actions in the Carrizo Plain Natural Area, and one for oil and gas activities in Kern and Kings counties.

Threatened & Endangered Species Conservation Areas (Map)
Sensitive Animals:
          Mammals
          Birds
          Reptiles
          Amphibians
          Fish
          Snails
          Insects
          Fairy Shrimp
Sensitive Plants
Neotropical Migrating Birds
Exotic Pest Plant Species
Critical Habitat for California Condor
Proposed Critical Habitat for Southwestern Willow Flycatcher
Federal Candidates, California Listed and Bureau Sensitive Species Parcel
and Geographic Area Lists

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