On November 19, 2019, the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council reached a major milestone by formally adopting the Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP). The plan formalizes area wide protection and management of natural wildlife diversity, while also permitting compatible and appropriate development and growth.
The city’s NCCP/HCP establishes protections for the 1,400-acre Palos Verdes Nature Preserve in perpetuity for species and habitat conservation while streamlining environmental permitting for citywide public and private infrastructure and development projects.
The Conservancy is the designated preserve habitat manager and conservation easement holder, responsible for habitat restoration, invasive plant removal and protecting the conservation value of the land. This includes the comprehensive management of protected native habitat in order to conserve multiple critically-imperiled species including the coastal California gnatcatcher (federally threatened), cactus wren (state species of concern), Palos Verdes and El Segundo blue butterflies (endangered) and coastal sage scrub, cactus and grassland vegetation communities. As the owner of most of the land, the city is responsible for managing public use and safety and maintenance tasks such as graffiti removal and fire fuel abatement.
Stressing the importance of the NCCP/HCP for conservation land management, Executive Director Adrienne Mohan explained, “The adoption of the NCCP/HCP and the associated conservation easements will ensure protection of the Nature Preserve in perpetuity for the benefit of species and people. If a species is lost, it’s lost forever—and they rely on the last remaining native habitats in the canyons and hills around the Peninsula. Healthy, living plant communities like coastal sage scrub provide a range of natural benefits, from filtering and purifying air and water to building soils, stabilizing landscapes, absorbing carbon dioxide, buffering against floods and high winds and, in various other ways, contributing to human well-being. Coastal sage and cactus habitats are also necessary for the survival of the protected species listed in the NCCP/HCP.”
Without this NCCP/HCP in place, the city and private property owners who desire to develop projects on natural lands would be required to seek special permits for each individual project. The significant staff time, monitoring and oversight for each proposed project would be vastly more expensive and time consuming without the benefit of the NCCP/HCP and the associated permit from the wildlife agencies.
The NCCP/HCP permit term is 50 years, although the conservation easements that protect the 1,400-acre Palos Verdes Nature Preserve and its ecosystems are permanent and will be regularly monitored to ensure they remain in compliance with the conservation easement’s terms. Speaking at the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Alegria said, “I fully support the adoption of the Rancho Palos Verdes NCCP/ HCP. The cost of inaction is way too high and puts at risk the generous community contributions and public grants that secured the preservation of the land forever. I am so pleased that my four kids and their children will get to enjoy the benefits of land we are preserving through the adoption of this plan.”