Habitat Connectivity and Wildlife Movement Corridors (Countywide)

 

What's New

On June 8, 2017, the Planning Division hosted a meeting to receive stakeholder input on habitat connectivity and wildlife movement corridors. Key topics for discussion included issues related to fencing, lighting, native vegetation removal, and maintaining corridor widths - all of which are important to wildlife movement.

Staff presented a PowerPoint presentation, which is attached here.

A summary of stakeholder input and comments is attached here.


Background

Wildlife corridors connect fragmented patches of habitat. The main goal of a corridor (also referred to as a linkage) is to facilitate movement of plants and animals through dispersal and migration. The fragmentation of natural areas within Ventura County due to development patterns limits the ability of plant and animal populations to disperse and move to areas they need for survival. Within natural resource management and conservation communities, this issue is considered among the most urgent of biological resource concerns. Wildlife biology specialists consider the maintenance (or enhancement) of existing habitat connectivity linkages, or connections between large, natural areas of protected habitat, as well as the native vegetation linkages within such corridors, as essential to ensure the future health of the County’s natural resources.

The removal of native habitat or the construction of buildings, roads, and fences can either degrade or eliminate the functionality of a wildlife movement corridor. Currently, the County’s regulatory structure does not incorporate review standards and General Plan policies that would fully protect the viability of these corridors. For example, the General Plan provides only one broad biological resource protection goal that mentions protections for wildlife corridors. The General Plan provides no supporting policies that specifically address development in these areas. In addition, the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance (NCZO) contains no standards that address proposed development in the wildlife corridors. Therefore, no guidance, or regulatory framework, is provided in the County’s existing planning documents to protect these resources.

A thoroughly researched project (the South Coast Wildlands Project, 2006), which mapped wildlife corridors through Ventura County, was prepared and is used throughout Southern California (including Ventura County) as a standard resource for the evaluation of environmental impacts during the environmental review process for discretionary development. The mapped corridors from this study provide the basis for discussion regarding potential development regulations in these areas to protect the habitat and wildlife corridors. Reports can be accessed at the following website:

For an overall review of the South Coast Missing Linkages Regional Report (Summary)
For the detailed report on the methods used to develop the linkage design for the Santa Monica-Sierra Madre Connection.

For the detailed report on the methods used to develop the linkage design for the Sierra Madre-Castaic Connection.

 

Recent Actions taken by the Board of Supervisors

In 2015, the Board of Supervisors took two actions regarding habitat connectivity and wildlife corridors. First, the Board approved a consultant contract for the Comprehensive General Plan Update (GPU) that included consultant work on the “wildlife corridors” program. On November 10, 2015, the Board elected to complete this project ahead of the GPU schedule and directed staff within the Long-Range Planning Section to include this project onits priority list.

Since, that time, staff prepared a series of regulatory options, reviewed those options with wildlife biology experts, and prepared recommendatons regarding measures that will protect the wildlife corridors. These options were presented to the Board of Supervisors on January 24, 2017. The Board selected Option 1 and directed the Planning Division to develop a set of policies and development standards within these areas.

The Board letter and exhibits, including a map of the corridors are posted on the County Board of Supervisors Agenda website here. The corridor map is shown as Exhibit 1.

If you have questions regarding this project or wish to be added to the interested parties list, please contact Shelley Sussman at (805) 654-2493 or via email at shelley.sussman@ventura.org.