Bell & Coryell Counties Regional Habitat Conservation Plan

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Bell & Coryell Counties Regional Habitat Conservation Plan (BELCOR RHCP)

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Bell County, Coryell County, and several regional partners are working together to develop a Regional Habitat Conservation Plan (RHCP) to balance economic development and resource conservation by protecting habitat for federally listed species in these two counties. Communities in these two counties are concerned about balancing management of population growth and development activities with conservation of several endangered and threatened species. Current and future development activities in the two counties over the next 30 years have the potential to impact federally listed species.

A successful Regional Habitat Conservation Plan will directly improve the ability of the region to sustain these vital economic drivers of the local economy without costly delays related to compliance with the Endangered Species Act and will provide certainty in the future.

Bell County and Coryell County are collaborating with the members of a Coordinating Committee to develop the BECOR Regional Habitat Conservation Plan (RHCP.) The BELCOR RHCP Coordinating Committee consists of the following 13 regional partners who have entered into an interlocal agreement to collaborate in this voluntary process:

  • Bell County
  • Coryell County
  • Clearwater UWCD
  • Brazos River Authority
  • City of Killeen
  • City of Temple
  • City of Copperas Cove
  • City of Harker Heights
  • City of Belton
  • City of Gatesville
  • Village of Salado
  • Middle Trinity GCD
  • Killeen -Temple MPO

To help fund development of the Regional Habitat Conservation Plan, Bell County received a grant through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. These funds will be used for the development of a Regional Habitat Conservation Plan that is informed by both trusted science and stakeholder involvement and input.

The RHCP and issuance of the incidental take permit (ITP) are scheduled to be completed in 2027.

What is a Habitat Conservation Plan?

A Habitat Conservation Plan is the primary planning document required to obtain an incidental take permit (ITP) under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act.

This section of the Endangered Species Act is intended to foster “creative partnerships between the public and private sectors and among governmental agencies in the interest of species and habitat conservation.”

A non-federal entity can obtain an ITP if its activities cause take of an endangered or threatened wildlife species. An HCP describes how take will be minimized and mitigated, and how the HCP is to be funded over the life of the project. RHCPs in Texas are subject to the requirements of Chapter 83 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, which include the use of a citizens advisory committee and biological advisory team. The BELCOR RHCP will be a plan to protect listed species through the integration of land use planning, interagency coordination, and habitat conservation.

This region is home to multiple species that are federally listed as threatened or endangered or are proposed for such listing, as well as numerous candidate species and several species with potential to become listed in the future.

The overall approach of the RHCP will be comprehensive, so that listed and non-listed species would benefit from the conservation strategies. Species of focus for this regional plan include the golden cheek warbler, Salado and Georgetown salamanders, monarch butterfly, karst invertebrates, and freshwater mussels such as the Texas Fawnsfoot and Balcones Spike.

For more information on the RHCP project please visit: https://www.bellcountytx.com/about_us/belcorrhcp.php