Habitat Conservation Agreements

The Endangered Species Act provides for the conservation of habitat for listed species. It does so by supporting private landowners and non-federal entities in their efforts to manage their land in a manner that protects, restores, or maintains habitat conditions for listed species. Descriptions of these conservation agreements are provided below.

West Coast Region Safe Harbor Agreements 

Under a Safe Harbor Agreement, participating landowners voluntarily undertake activities on their property to enhance, restore, or maintain habitat benefiting species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Safe Harbor Agreements, and the subsequent Enhancement of Survival Permits that are issued, encourage private and non-federal property owners to implement conservation efforts for listed species by assuring property owners they will not be subjected to increased landuse restrictions as a result of their efforts to attract listed species to their property or increase the numbers or distribution of listed species already on their property.

In 2016, NOAA Fisheries completed its first Safe Harbor Agreement in the country—right in northern California's Dry Creek watershed. The agreement creates a new model for endangered species conservation and recovery by engaging the support of landowners who are critical to recovery, while also providing assurances that they will not face new restrictions on their land because of their good stewardship practices. The assurances create an environment for collaborative conservation, building on local knowledge and innovation to inspire on-the-ground action. The partnership among NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Sonoma County Water Agency, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and private landowners in the Dry Creek Valley will support the recovery of endangered coho salmon, and threatened Chinook salmon and steelhead. LEARN MORE about the Dry Creek Safe Harbor Agreement and how landowners can participate...

West Coast Region Habitat Conservation Plans

Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act allows for the development of Habitat Conservation Plans, which result in permits that give exceptions to the prohibition against "take" of a listed species. These permits are most commonly issued to entities such as municipal water utilities, as their activities support long-term survival and recovery of listed species and benefit from stable, long-term regulations.

To obtain a Section 10 permit, a non-federal applicant develops and submits a Habitat Conservation Plan to NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for technical assistance and for National Environmental Policy Act and public review. Once all reviews are complete, the Habitat Conservation Plan is final and all parties sign it. NOAA Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service then issue ESA Section 10 incidental take permits that cover their respective species. Habitat Conservation Plans covered by NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region are provided below: