Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Utah Prairie Dog

Information about the Plan

New permit
Iron County applied for and received a permit under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the incidental take of Utah Prairie Dog in occupied habitat within specified geographic boundaries of Iron County. This permit authorizes incidental take resulting from the implementation of the new Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan (LEHCP).

Effective date
The new LEHCP will have take available for development on January 1, 2014.

Available take amount
The new LEHCP will provide additional take to that authorized under the 1998 Iron County HCP.
  • 200 acres of occupied habitat per year for two years, with a third year if an extension is granted.
  • A third year extension will be contingent upon Iron County making sufficient progress toward a new long-term County or Range-wide HCP.
The take authorized in the new LEHCP (once allocated to property owners) can be used at any time during the 99-year term of the permit (see “Project Required” below).

Maps for zones
Maps are available of the Green Zones and the Red Zones identifying where this new take can be allocated in Cedar and Parowan Valleys. Maps can be viewed at www.ironcounty.net or at the Iron County Building and Zoning office (82 N 100 E, Suite 102, Cedar City, Utah).

Takes and Zones for Cedar Valley
Takes and Zones for Parowan Valley

Acreage formula
The new LEHCP will allocate take based on occupied acreage only – without regard to UPD counts or numbers of UPDs on the property. If the property is occupied, take will be allocated on the number of acres, or portion of acres, anticipated to be disturbed in order to conduct the development activity planned for the property.

Priority for take
Priority allocation for the limited available take will be considered by the Iron County Commission as follows:

  1. Commercial development providing new jobs – (25 acres)
  2. Commercial expansion w/o adding new jobs (job retention) (5 acres)
  3. Residential building when building permit required – existing lots (2 acres)
  4. Utility and right-of-way development when permanent take is required (5 acres)
  5. New subdivisions (20 acres for roads and disturbances – buildings with permits)
  6. Clearing property for future projects within three years (5 acres)
  7. Clearing for undetermined time frame (5 acres)
  • Note: Take on unoccupied habitat may be considered for property owners desiring UPD clearance on their property for the 99 year permit period (with payment of the respective mitigation fees for the green zone or red zone). This includes property with or without a project and will generally be allocated near the end of the take allocation period (2-3 years).
Project Required
Take shall be allocated to properties where a development project is anticipated to occur within the following 90 days. At the end of the take allocation period (2-3 years), unallocated take will be available for non-project properties (occupied or unoccupied), at the discretion of the Iron County Commission. It is the intent of the Iron County Commission that all 400-600 acres of take be allocated during the take allocation period.

Minimization Measures
(UPD Trapping and Relocation). The preferred option for UPD relocation is available rather than paying a mitigation fee. If the project/development can wait until July-August, in order that UPDs can be trapped and relocated from the subject property, no mitigation payment is required. However, the project must begin construction prior to March 1st following the trapping period, or the mitigation payment will be required.

Mitigation fee.
Mitigation cost for take in the new LEHCP is $1000.00 per acre. A one-half acre property will be proportional at $500.00, etc.

1998 HCP.
Take from the 1998 HCP is still in effect and will continue to be used as it was in past years, if the new LEHCP will not adequately address the need for take (take from the 1998 HCP can no longer be carried-over from one year to the next).

Take from the 1998 HCP may be used as follows:
  1. In the Red Zone - with 50+ UPDs OR medium or high quality habitat OR April – September (condition dependent)
  2. Outside the Red Zone
  3. When mitigation is required
Step 1. Any property owner interested in building on or developing their property should request a Utah prairie dog occupancy survey (to determine the presence of UPDs) to be conducted on their property. To request a survey please fill out a request form (link to survey request found below) and send the request to Jessica Van Woeart, HCP Administrator, with the Utah DWR (Division of Wildlife Resources at 1470 Airport Road, Cedar City, UT 84721) via fax (435)586-2457 or email prairiedogsurvey@utah.gov. If you have any questions you can contact the Utah DWR at 435-865-6100 or 435-691-5700. (Please allow up to 14 days for survey and results letter).

Step 2. If the property is occupied with Utah Prairie Dogs, the property owner must contact the Iron County Building Department (435-865-5350) to request take. If the property is located within the Red or Green Zones mapped in the new LEHCP, after receiving a letter from DWR, the property owner may request a habitat quality assessment (to determine quality of habitat – LEHCP take is only available in low quality habitat in the Red Zone) from the Iron County Building Department.

Step 3. Take may be allocated by County staff in a timely manner, according to rules established by the County Commission. There will be no need to wait until a County Commission meeting, as is the case with 1998 HCP take allocations.

Allocation Rules
Green Zone – No “Habitat Quality Assessment” is required for any property in the green zone, regardless of colony size or habitat quality. Take is available for all properties based on current occupancy and the established priority criteria.

Red Zone – A “Habitat Quality Assessment” must be performed for properties with occupied habitat to determine habitat quality. If properties in the red zone are determined to have medium or high quality habitat, or the colony size is 50 or more, the acreage take authorized in the new LEHCP is not available for that property. Generally, habitat assessments can only be performed from April thru September. Therefore, LEHCP take in the Red Zone may only be available from April thru September. Other options for take on occupied habitat in the Red Zone may be available from the 1998 HCP or mitigation banks or credits.

Occupied and unoccupied portions of a project property
Take allocated for occupied property will clear that property for 99 years. The balance of the project property (unoccupied) will be cleared until March 1st of the following year – unless take is allocated (and mitigated) on the unoccupied property, as well.

Documentation Related to the plan:

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