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Open Space District Releases Draft Habitat Mitigation Policy

CARRQadmin's picture
on Mon, 06/03/2013 - 18:08

The Sonoma County Agriculture and Open Space District has released a draft “Habitat Mitigation Policy for District Protected Lands.” Habitat mitigation is required when development projects impact/destroy wetlands, special status species or other valuable habitat. In 2010 when the county supervisors (who are also the Open Space District’s board of directors) OK’d the Roblar Road quarry project they also allowed the quarry owner to use a neighbors’ conservation easement as ‘replacement’ land for species that would be destroyed by the quarry. CARRQ felt this was an egregious action and a clear misuse of a tax-paid easement. Well aware of the controversy, the District staff (especially Stewardship Project Manager Sheri Emerson) has spent many months researching and developing the draft mitigation policy to address how and when the District may allow habitat mitigation on already protected land. CARRQ supporters have attended many District meetings since last year to monitor the development of the policy. While we question whether the District should be in the mitigation ‘business’, we strongly support the draft policy that private developers/projects will not be allowed to use new conservation easements (those recorded after the effective date of the new policy) for habitat mitigation. This won’t repair the damage done by the Roblar quarry decision, but it is an important step forward for preserving other land in our county.  The District will hold a public workshop sometime later in June where you can learn more, and then it will go to the supervisors/directors for a vote.  We’ll keep you posted and ask for your support contacting the supervisors/directors.