'We've turned down bad HCPs'

  • Curt Smitch

    USFWS
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to one of this issue's feature stories.

Curt Smitch is an assistant director for Region 1 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which covers Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho and Hawaii. He oversaw the region's Habitat Conservation Plan program when it took effect in 1994.

Curt Smitch: "We have 8 million acres under HCPs that have either been approved or are still under negotiation, and they are changing the way we do business, from a species level to a landscape perspective, and that's good.

"Washington requires buffers for fish-bearing streams as little as 25 feet. Our HCPs generally have 150-foot buffers. People quarrel with us, but I say, look at the current Legislature and tell me how soon you think the state Forest Practices Act will be changed from 25 to 150 feet.

"When we negotiate HCPs, if the landowner doesn't want to accept as much adaptive management (that the plan should change periodically to reflect changing conditions and information) then we require them to give us more habitat up front. The baseline condition of the land is very important for us to determine. If there isn't much habitat for species, then we can't require the landowner to create a bunch more.

"HCPs have to be scientifically credible, because sooner or later we'll be in court defending them. We won't approve an HCP unless the species out there will be a lot better off under it than without it. The landowner gets certainty, but we do, too - that for 50 years there will be adequate stream buffers and snags for wildlife. Some of these places will be all that we have left in 50 years.

"I don't buy the notion that these plans aren't adequately peer-reviewed. We contact scientists all over the region and ask for their advice. The Plum Creek plan (in Washington) has 15 technical documents with it that have been peer-reviewed by scientists such as Jerry Franklin. There's no benefit for us to try to hide the science.

"I sleep well at night, because I know we've scrubbed the science and we've turned down HCPs that were bad. We had one company in here for two days working with us on a plan and when we laid out our standards, they decided not to do it."

High Country News Classifieds
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Greater Yellowstone Coalition seeks a development professional to coordinate the organization's individual giving program. The position description is available at http://greateryellowstone.org/careers Please email a letter...
  • IDAHO STATE DIRECTOR
    The Wilderness Society is seeking a full time Idaho State Director who will preferably be based in Boise, Idaho. At least 8-10 years of experience...
  • COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER AND BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER MANAGER
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring for two positions. We seek a Communications Manager to execute inspiring and impactful communications...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Wilderness Volunteers Wilderness Volunteers (WV), a 24-year leader in preserving our nation's wildlands, is seeking a motivated person with deep outdoor interests to guide our...
  • HECHO POLICY AND ADVOCACY MANAGER
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • FISHERIES BIOLOGIST
    Under the direct supervision of the Director of Shoshone-Paiute Tribe's Fish, Wildlife & Parks, in coordination with the Tribal Programs Administrator and the Tribal Chairman,...
  • REGIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NORTHERN ROCKIES, PRAIRIES & PACIFIC REGION
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has grown into America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and more than...
  • STEWARDSHIP MANAGER
    STEWARDSHIP MANAGER Job Vacancy and Description Posted June 2, 2021: Open until filled The New Mexico Land Conservancy (NMLC) is a non-profit, regional land trust...
  • KSJD - MORNING EDITION HOST/REPORTER
    KSJD is seeking a host/reporter. Please see for www.ksjd.org for more information. EEO compliant.
  • ON THE EDGE OF CEDAR MESA/BEARS EARS
    Quiet, comfy house for rent in Bluff, Utah. Walk to San Juan River. Bike or hike to many nearby ruins and rock art sites. Beautiful...
  • CARPENTER AND LABORER WANTED.
    Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rain forest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg meadows,...
  • PROJECT MANAGER
    Title: Project Manager Reports To: Program Director Salary Range: Negotiable; starting at $60,000 Location: Bend, OR The Deschutes River Conservancy seeks a Project Manager to...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Deschutes River Conservancy seeks a Program Director to join our dynamic team in restoring streamflow and improving water quality in the Deschutes Basin. WHO...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - TWISPWORKS
    Established healthy nonprofit in the Methow Valley of Washington state, TwispWorks is hiring the next Executive Director. Terrific opportunity to strive for our mission to...
  • BOARD DIRECTOR
    Help us achieve our mission of promoting excellence in the professional practice of wilderness stewardship, science and education to ensure the life-sustaining benefits of wilderness....
  • TEMPORARY FULL-TIME RANCH OPERATIONS ASSISTANT
    Twin Willows Ranch in Ocate, NM is seeking to immediately fill a Temporary Full-Time employment position as Ranch Operations Assistant for Facilities, Equipment, Land, and...
  • RANCH OPERATIONS ASSISTANT
    Twin Willows Ranch in Ocate, NM is seeking an individual to fill the Regular Full-Time position of Resident Operations Assistant for Technology, Hospitality, Gardening, and...
  • CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER
    Conservation Project Manager Position Description Join Skagit Land Trust (the Trust), a not-for-profit conservation organization based in Mount Vernon, Washington, and help protect land for...
  • NOVA SCOTIA OCEAN FRONT
    Camp or Build on 2+ acres in Guysborough. FSBO. $36,000 US firm. Laurie's phone: 585-226-2993 EST.
  • TECHNICAL ADVISOR TO THE GOOD NEIGHBOR AGREEMENT
    Northern Plains Resource Council seeks an independent contractor to implement the Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA) between local communities and the Sibanye-Stillwater Mining Company in Montana....