The Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) formed in 2004 to achieve one of America’s most ambitious environmental efforts, the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP).
The MSHCP was created to provide a streamlined process for needed infrastructure projects, particularly transportation, as well as to provide certainty in the development process.
Our (RCA’s) mission is to provide guidance and support to the member agencies (18 cities and Riverside County) in implementing the MSHCP and to establish a 500,000-acre habitat reserve to protect, restore, and enhance habitats for the conservation of 146 species. Parts of the reserve are not open to the public as the lands are protected for research and conservation. However, much of the reserve is open to the public thanks to our partner agencies who own and/or manage the lands. Please see the recreation page to find areas you can visit near you.
As the nation’s largest habitat conservation plan, the MSHCP strengthens the sustainability and quality of life in Western Riverside County by alleviating traffic congestion, protecting natural resources and improving air quality.
The MSHCP provides Endangered Species Act coverage under a single permit for critical wildlife species, which has helped accelerate the construction of freeway and road projects by as much as five years. So far, the plan has saved taxpayers more than $500 million by accelerating the approval process.
Acquiring reserve lands is one of RCA’s core activities. RCA also:
- Manages and monitors the lands it acquires to ensure animals and plants thrive
- Monitors “habitat loss” and “habitat gains”
- Reviews plans for proposed infrastructure and development projects
- Publishes an annual report.
Funding through Local Development Mitigation Fees (LDMF), grants, and other funding sources (tipping fees, public projects, and participating special entity contributions) pay for RCA’s core activities.
RCA oversees and administers implementation of the MSHCP. However, the RCA does not limit Riverside County or city local land use authority or prevent a Permittee from approving a discretionary project. The RCA provides support and guidance to the MSHCP Permittees to help facilitate consistency with the MSHCP and hence streamline Endangered Species Act and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) clearance.
To do this, the RCA’s Board of Directors provide the primary policy direction for the implementation of the MSHCP. For any proposed project that requires a discretionary approval (e.g. CEQA, Conditional Use Permit) by a member agency (18 cities and Riverside County) and occurs within a Criteria Cell, the project will be reviewed by the city or county and is then forwarded to the RCA for a Joint Project Review. RCA’s Joint Project Review evaluates the project’s consistency with the MSHCP, including whether acquisition of lands is needed in order to establish the 500,000-acre reserve system.
Below is a list of additional roles the RCA performs to ensure the MSHCP is implemented as envisioned by the governing permits from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- To make this all possible, the RCA collects and expends Local Development Mitigation Fees and other applicable funds.
- The RCA can transfer Take authorization to Participating Special Entities pursuant to the MSHCP.
- The RCA accepts, manages, and monitors MSHCP Conservation Area property, including conservation easements, that have been conveyed to the RCA by the County, cities, and other entities or individuals pursuant to the MSHCP.