Pam Jones of Jones and West started the Tuesday night Public Workshop at Gridley City Hall to discuss the Butte Regional Conservation Plan. (Photo by Lisa Van De Hey)

As part of the the development of the Butte Regional Conservation Plan (BRCP) and Natural Communities Conservation Plan facilitated by the Butte County Association of Governments (BCAG), a Public Workshop was held at Gridley City Hall Tuesday, January 15, 2013. The Plan has been a project of the BCAG since 2007 with funding coming primarily from State and Federal Grants on behalf of the cities.

Jon Clark, Executive Director and Chris Devine, Planning Manager of BCAG presented the Plan's background and basics including the Plan Area, Covered Species, Covered Activities, General Benefits and Coordination with stakeholders and Steering Committees explaining that along with Gridley, the Cities of Biggs, Chico and Oroville also approved the planning agreement in 2007. In 2010, the plan was approved by Caltrans District 3, Western Canal Water District, Richvale Irrigation District, Biggs-West Gridley Irrigation District and Butte Water District.

The Preliminary Public Draft BRCP was released for public comment on November 30, 2012. The BCRP replaces existing environmental permitting processes with a smarter, more efficient process.

The BRCP will provide a streamlined environmental and wetland permitting process for activities included in the General Plans, Transportation Plans and Water District Plans.

Participants can be assured of local control on environmental requirements for 50 years with a Conservation Plan.

The Plan addresses "Recovery" of listed species; provides for conservation of natural communities; incorporates principles of Conservation Biology and has multiple reviews by an independent science advisory panel.

Benefits include an economic competitive advantage for cities and county; local control by consolidating and streamlining environmental permitting under one locally controlled plan and protects the rights of private property owners because any acquisition of conservation lands will be through willing sellers only. Another benefit is the reduction of cost and increase of the consistency of the state and federal permitting process. The plan provides certainty of environmental and wetland permitting costs and requirements.

The formal Public Draft BRCP and EIS/EIR will be released in the spring and approvals and final permitting are expected to be done in either late 2013 or early 2014.

One of the several stations set up depicted the planning area of 564,270 acres broken down with Agriculture amounting to 250,634 acres and Wetland 32,024 acres of the grand total. Covered species include amphibians, birds, fish, plants, reptiles and invertebrates.

Comment cards were available but it is possible to make comments on the website, due by January 31, 2013. BCAG is interested in opinions and suggestions provided by citizens as they could affect the final draft and help make it more accurate. The BCRP team will update the draft based on the feedback received. The formal Public Draft BRCP will be released in Spring 2013 with the required joint Public Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement followed by a 90 day formal public review period.

More information is available at