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Process Components in Developing Habitat Conservation Plans

David Bidwell
Winsor Associates, P. O. Box 432 Ardmore, PA 19003,

David Ostermeier
Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Susan Schexnayder
National Center for Environmental Decision-making Research (NCEDR), Knoxville, TN


According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 230 habitat conservation plans (HCPs) have been developed since 1992, encompassing nearly 12 million acres of endangered species habitat. Relatively little has been produced that describes the actual steps or processes that have been utilized in the development of HCPs and associated conservation plans. In 1998, the National Center for Environmental Decision-making Research conducted 124 interviews of conservation planning participants and produced summaries of the processes used in the development of 31 plans. While analysis of these summaries and interviews is ongoing, we present here five initial process components: type of permit applicant, role of the administering Federal agencies, participation in planning, decision-making process design, and management and review of technical data. Our discussion of these components raise a number of questions that must be addressed in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of individual planning processes, endangered species policy, and other efforts to balance private economic interests with conservation of the environment.

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