Coachella Valley developers won’t have to pay fees for two different habitat conservation plans – the valley’s Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan and a state plan being developed to cover renewable energy projects – Riverside County officials said.
Gail Barton, a county planner, told those at a meeting of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership’s Renewable Energy Roundtable that land covered under the multi-species plan has been officially taken out of the state Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan.
“There will be no overlap,” said Barton, the county’s representative on the stakeholders’ group working on the state plan.
The most recent map on the state plan’s website, www.drecp.org, clearly shows the valley outside the six-county area the plan will cover, she said.
Passed in 2006 after years of negotiations, the valley’s multi-species plan aims to balance development and environmental concerns by using money from development fees to create a 725,000-acre reserve system to ensure the survival of 27 desert plants and animals.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the development of the state’s conservation plan in 2008. The goal is to develop guidelines for renewable energy development in the Mojave and Colorado deserts, designate conservation areas for endangered species and streamline permitting processes.
The plan could allow developers to buy land for conservation, pay fees or help with workforce training to reduce development’s affects on the environment.
Desert developers, who may have paid thousands of dollars in mitigation fees under the multi-species plan, raised concerns that the state plan – which originally covered the entire valley – would require them to pay extra fees as well.
The Coachella Valley Association of Governments petitioned officials to get the valley carved out of the state’s map, CVAG director Tom Kirk said.
“There was no opposition to our request,” he said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding