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From the Alameda Creek Alliance

San Francisco Alameda Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan under scrutiny

by Jeff Miller
January 22, 1009 -- The Alameda Creek Alliance and 10 other Bay Area conservation groups have submitted extensive scoping comments on the Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s proposed Alameda Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The comments are posted here.

The San Francisco Planning Department and federal wildlife agencies held a scoping meeting last week on the HCP in Dublin, attended by about 30 people. There is an article in today’s Livermore Independent about the HCP and the hearing, Conservationists Want More Species in Watershed Plan.

The HCP will provide conservation measures and legal coverage for the SFPUC under the Endangered Species Act for lawful “take” of 12 special-status wildlife species and 5 plant species within the watershed, for 30 years. This HCP... (Continued)  is the mechanism the SFPUC will use to address instream flows for steelhead trout and other migratory fish. It will provide the SFPUC with immunity from litigation over endangered species impacts from covered activities such as dam and reservoir operations, lease activities such as cattle grazing, and nursery and golf course operations, and road and fence construction and maintenance.

The conservation groups are asking for an extension of the comment deadline for scoping comments on the environmental review of the HCP (due today), since the SFPUC has not yet finalized their impacts analysis or the conservation strategy.

The comments suggest additional species that should be covered in the HCP, ask for peer review of all information produced by the SFPUC, critique the inadequacies of the Biological Inventory report released by the SFPUC, and propose mitigation measures for impacts.

The San Francisco Planning Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service will conduct a public environmental review process and release a draft Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for the HCP. The SFPUC so far has provided an overview of the HCP, a revised list of covered activities, a revised list of covered species, preliminary modeling for the covered fish species, and a draft approach for impact analysis and conservation measures.

See the SFPUC’s web page and the ACA web page for more information on the HCP.