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Environment Element Group takes step toward preservation

Joshua Tree WildflowersThe Countywide Vision Environment Element Group on Wednesday prioritized what additional research is needed to develop a comprehensive approach to the preservation and conservation of habitat for threatened and endangered species in San Bernardino County.

The Group selected as its next steps:

  • The creation of a countywide inventory of conservation lands in the county and establishment of a system for tracking new conservation land acquisitions
  • The completion of a detailed analysis of where threatened and endangered species live in comparison to known conservation lands to identify any gaps in protection of those focal species

This was the fourth time in the past year that the Group consisting of experts in environmental protection, land use, infrastructure, utilities, business and regulatory agencies has met to develop a plan for how to best balance habitat preservation and conservation with expected population and economic growth.

Dudek, an environmental and engineering consulting firm hired last year by San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), has been assisting the Group with the creation of a framework and plan for developing a regional conservation approach.

The additional research tasks chosen by the Group were among the potential next steps suggested by Dudek. The Group decided it needed the information from the countywide conservation lands inventory and habitat gap analysis to better understand the benefits and limitations of possible conservation approaches.

The Group will request financial assistance from the County of San Bernardino and SANBAG to complete the research.

In December and January, the Group reached agreement on a set of policy and biological principles to guide future 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.

Last year, Dudek staff collected information about existing conservation efforts throughout the county. They 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.

Anyone with valuable insights into conservation planning efforts anywhere in the county is encouraged to contact Josh Lee at SANBAG – jlee@sanbag.ca.gov.

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