MULTIPLE SPECIES GENERAL CONSERVATION PLAN
The Multiple Species General Conservation Plan (MSGCP) was created by FCCD staff in cooperation with the USFWS in 2015 as a way to protect critical habitat in Douglas County, while also protecting the agricultural producers who own land in these areas. The plan focuses on four endangered species found throughout the county (Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit, Greater Sage Grouse, Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse, and Washington Ground Squirrel). It describes a process for Applicants/Permittees (private agriculture landowners or lessees) to voluntarily develop site-specific Farm Plans/Site Plans with Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will result in improved habitat for one or more of the covered species (FCCD, 2015). Incorporated in this plan is a monitoring protocol, designed to ensure that the critical habitat areas are managed and maintained by the landowner and/or FCCD staff over time in a way that continues to support the endangered species recovery.
This can also provide valuable data in lieu of the large wildfires that have devastated critical habitat areas in the county in recent years. The MSGCP and those enrolled in the program hold data regarding the status and recovery of these endangered species and the habitats they rely on. With an effective monitoring plan in place, landowners enrolled in the plan, as well as FCCD staff who help with oversight and reporting, have a critical role in recording any major impacts, such as wildfire, to habitat conditions and population status of these endangered species, all of which are key indicators of overall ecosystem health.