Habitat Conservation Plans - What, Why and How for Land Managers

Lead Author: Kathryn Fernholz

Publish date: 05.17.2016


The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) provides for the conservation of endangered and threatened species and their habitats in the United States. In recent years, the ESA has made headlines with new listings and proposals that impact land management, including a proposal to list the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as endangered. The proposal potentially affects more than 35 states, primarily in the eastern half of the country.


In response to a species listing, development of a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is required as part of an application for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP). An HCP is developed to describe the likely effect of an activity and how impacts will be minimized or mitigated. An HCP is intended to provide the opportunity for a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and stakeholders in the shared interest of conserving species and their habitats.