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Environmental group meets on balancing preservation, growth

Environment EG mtg 140924Today, the Countywide Vision Environment Element Group consisting of experts in environmental protection, land use, infrastructure, utilities, business and regulatory agencies met to discuss draft principles for how to best balance habitat preservation and conservation with expected population and economic growth.

The draft principles were developed by Dudek, an environmental and engineering consulting firm hired earlier this year by San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) to complete a countywide habitat preservation and conservation study.

The study will help develop a recommended comprehensive structure and approach to the preservation and conservation of habitat for threatened and endangered species in a way that is beneficial for the health of the environment, the economy, and the citizens of San Bernardino County.

During the past several months, Dudek staff has collected information about existing conservation efforts throughout the county.

Dudek staff provided the Environment Element Group with their insights from their interviews of officials with cities and towns, the County, regional planning and infrastructure entities, environmental protection groups, resource conservation districts, state and federal regulatory and resource agencies, including:

  • Some municipalities have addressed habitat conservation by designating lands as open space, adopting hillside protection ordinances, and preparation of individual habitat conservation plans.
  • State and federal wildlife agencies would like to see a connected and comprehensive approach to habitat conservation.

Dudek staff also presented 15 draft policy and biological principles for habitat conservation to the Environment Element Group for its feedback, including:

  • Increase certainty for both the preservation/conservation of habitat as well as for land development and infrastructure permitting.
  • Recognize that San Bernardino County needs to have a growing economy to be able to afford the acquisition and ongoing management of habitat. Conservation efforts should complement the managed growth, economic development and population growth anticipated by Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).
  • Recognize that participating in a more comprehensive approach to conservation planning will be voluntary, but that participating in the more comprehensive approach will provide benefits for most of those participating.

Dudek staff will incorporate today’s input from the Environment Element Group into its analysis and its development of a recommended conservation framework and strategies.

The Environment Element Group will review Dudek’s recommendations later this year before a final report is provided to the SANBAG Board of Directors.

Anyone with valuable insights into conservation planning efforts anywhere in the county is encouraged to contact Stephanie Standerfer at Dudek – sstanderfer@dudek.com.

View the Countywide Habitat Preservation/Conservation Framework Presentation.

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