Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore is closed until further notice to ensure the safety of residents, visitors, and sensitive habitat.



Questions About MSHCP

What is an MSHCP and why should I care?

An MSHCP provides a streamlined process for impacts to federal and/or state Endangered species as well as other special-status species that are not Endangered but in decline. For this to happen, the species has to be a covered species under the MSHCP. In other words, when all the agencies sat down to establish the MSHCP, it was decided which species pose the biggest issue for development and how a streamlined approach could be established where impacts to these species can occur in certain areas of the MSHCP boundary, while conservation of the species occurs in other areas of the MSHCP boundary. The more species that got added to the covered list in the development of the MSHCP, the more complex the variables become, but in the long run the better off everyone is because the MSHCP provides impact coverage to species that may become Endangered in future years. An MSHCP also provides a future where you and your family will see a balance between development and open space and hence places that can be enjoyed by futures generations.

How does the MSHCP affect the individual property owner?

Our brochure, “Understanding the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP), A Guide for the Individual Property Owner,” outlines possible impacts on property owners if they live in a single-family home, want to build a new single-family home on a existing parcel, or if they want to subdivide their property. The brochure is available here or at the public information counters of member cities, the County of Riverside, and the RCA.

Just how large an area does MSHCP cover within Western Riverside County?

The MSHCP covers all of Western Riverside County. Coachella Valley and the desert east of San Gorgonio Pass are not included. Still, the Western Riverside County MSHCP covers an area larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware. Covering an area of 1,967 square miles, it is also larger than 32 of the counties within the State of California. Click here to download a small map showing the MSHCP’s size compared with California counties.

Why was the MSHCP developed for Western Riverside County?

The MSHCP resulted from a comprehensive effort to shape Riverside County’s future, balancing the rapid growth the County experienced in the 1980s and 90s with the challenges of traffic congestion, and the listing of native species of plants and animals as threatened or endangered. The MSHCP is the largest conservation plan in the nation.

After in-depth environmental and transportation studies and extensive public outreach, the Riverside County Integrated Plan developed a vision for Riverside County’s future that now guides development, provides for economic growth, solves transportation problems, and protects the environment.

How much land is designated for natural reserves under the MSHCP?

The MSHCP sets aside 500,000 acres for preservation among 1.26 million acres covered by the Plan.

How much land has been acquired or set aside to date?

The Plan covers 1.26 million acres. Of that, 500,000 acres, or 40%, is set aside for preservation. Already conserved were 347,000 acres of public or quasi-public lands. The RCA and its state and federal partner agencies have added more lands. Today, over 80 percent of the total reserve is in place.

What species of plants and animals are protected?

One hundred forty-six species of plants and animals are protected. A full list is available in Volume 4, Table 2-2 (last column) in Section 2.41.4 of the MSHCP.

What does it mean when my property occurs within a species survey area?

It does not mean anything unless you want to develop your property in a manner that triggers a discretionary approval by the city/Riverside County Planning Department, in which the property occurs. If your proposed development triggers a discretionary action and occurs within a MSHCP survey area, then the property needs to be evaluated by a professional consultant for its potential to support the survey species. If there is no potential habitat for the species, then a report is provided to the city/Riverside County that justifies why the property does not support the species. Once the city/Riverside County accepts the results of the habitat evaluation, no survey is required. If the habitat evaluation determines there is potential for the species and the project cannot avoid the habitat, then a focused survey performed by a qualified professional is necessary and a report providing the results of the survey provided to the city/Riverside County.  If the species is found and will be impacted, additional coordination with the city/Riverside County is necessary to determine whether a Determination of Biologically Equivalent or Superior Preservation (DBESP) is triggered.

What does this strange term “Take” mean in the realm of the MSHCP?

The term “Take” is a formal term defined by the federal and state Endangered Species Acts, but essentially means impact that triggers protections under either or both of these Acts. The MSHCP provides “take” allowance for 146 covered species that are listed under the federal or state Endangered Species Acts.

What is a DBESP?

A DBESP (Determination of Biologically Equivalent or Superior Preservation) is a document that is required when your project will impact occupied habitat for survey species and/or impacting riparian/riverine and/or vernal pool resources.

How long is the DBESP process?

The review period for a DBESP by the Wildlife Agencies (CDFW, USFWS) is 60 days, once a hard copy is delivered to each agency. If the agencies have comments, finalization of their review occurs once the agencies have no further comments. If no comments have been received by the Permittee, then the DBESP review period is complete. The RCA does not review DBESPs unless the project needs to submit a JPR, in which case the RCA review of the DBESP is concurrent with the JPR, 14 days or longer if comments or clarifications are provided to the Permittee by the RCA.

What is the JPR process?

The process by which the RCA (Regional Conservation Authority) performs a consistency review of the proposed project per the MSHCP. This occurs for projects that trigger a discretionary approval by the city/County of Riverside and occurs only when the property is located within a Criteria Cell (roughly 160-acre rectangle that overlays parcels and has described conservation).  

How long is the JPR process?

The JPR process can last 14 days or longer, depending on the completeness and quality of the documentation provided to the RCA. See the RCA Checklist for details.

What is the HANS process?

This is the Habitat Evaluation and Acquisition Negotiation Strategy conducted by the city/Riverside County on parcels proposed for development that occur within a Criteria Cell. Essentially this is a review of whether the property (some or all) is needed as part of MSHCP reserve assembly.

How do the MSHCP and CEQA work together?

For projects that trigger a discretionary action by an MSHCP Permittee, mitigation requirements under CEQA for MSHCP covered resources are mitigated by the MSHCP, as long as the project is determined to be consistent with the MSHCP.

How do the MSHCP and the Clean Water Act (Sections 401 and 404), state Porter Cologne Water Quality Control Act, and Fish & Game Code 1600 work together?

MSHCP riparian/riverine resources often overlap the jurisdiction of these laws and mitigation for impacts to riparian/riverine needed by the MSHCP often overlap with those required by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE; Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting), Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board; Clean Water Act Section 401/Porter Cologne Water Quality Act certification), and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW; Fish & Game Code 1600). Nevertheless, the MSHCP does not have any discretion over the requirements and/or actions taken by the entities that regulate these laws.

What if I want to build a single-family home?

The MSHCP does not require surveys and single-family homes do not trigger a review for reserve assembly. However, if your parcel occurs within a Criteria Cell, then the city/Riverside County planning department will need to review with you the placement of your home in relationship to environmentally sensitive MSHCP covered resources (e.g., creek, native habitat), with the intent of placing the home in the least sensitive area of your parcel.

What if I want to subdivide my parcel into two parcels?

To subdivide a parcel into two or more parcels triggers a discretionary approval by the city/Riverside County, and this action will treat the request as a project, thus triggering MSHCP consistency.

What does it mean for my property to be in a Criteria Cell?

A Criteria Cell is a roughly 160-acre rectangle overlaid onto parcels within the MSHCP Plan Area and that has areas described for conservation (i.e., reserve assembly). If you want to develop a property in a Criteria Cell (other than single-family home), the HANS and JPR processes are triggered.

How do the MSHCP and the Stephens Kangaroo Rat (SKR) Long-term Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) work together?

The SKR HCP boundary occurs within the larger MSHCP boundary. For a project that occurs within the SKR HCP boundary, impacts to SKR are mitigated by the SKR HCP, while any projects outside of the SKR HCP boundary but within the MSHCP, impacts are mitigated by the MSHCP.

What if I have a special-status species on my property that I want to develop and is not one of the covered species of the MSHCP?

The MSHCP cannot provide mitigation for a species that is not one of the 146 covered species. The RCA is available to provide information on what may be involved.   

Who do I submit my biological report to?

The city or Riverside County Planning Department in which the parcel occurs.

Is there training available for the MSHCP?

Please contact the RCA to get on the training email list. The RCA (at a minimum) provides training to Permittees every spring and to consultants every winter.

Questions About RCA

What does RCA do?

RCA oversees and administers the MSHCP in support of its member agencies (18 cities and Riverside County) and acquires land that it will manage and monitor for 146 species in perpetuity as mandated by the MSHCP.

Who are the members of RCA?

Riverside County and all cities in Western Riverside County within MSHCP boundaries, roughly west of San Gorgonio Pass, are RCA members. The MSHCP covers unincorporated Western Riverside County and the cities of Banning, Beaumont, Calimesa, Canyon Lake, Corona, Eastvale, Hemet, Jurupa Valley, Lake Elsinore, Moreno Valley, Menifee, Murrieta, Norco, Perris, Riverside, San Jacinto, Temecula, and Wildomar. Other partner agencies are Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Riverside County Park and Open Space District, Riverside County Department of Waste Resources, Riverside County Transportation Commission, California Department of Transportation, and California Department of Parks and Recreation. A full listing of our partner agencies can be found here.

How is RCA governed?

RCA is governed by a Board of Directors. Each city government which is a part of the Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement appoints a member. The County of Riverside is represented by all five members of the Board of Supervisors. An Executive Committee of seven members oversees administrative functions.

Where are RCA offices located and how do I get there?

The RCA offices are located at:
Riverside Centre Building
3403 10th Street, Suite 320
Riverside, CA 92501

Get a map

From the 91 Freeway eastbound:
Exit 14th Street
Turn left on 14th
Turn right on Lime Street, which is the second street
Turn left on 10th Street (loading zone is on right)
To parking garage:
Turn right on Lemon Street
Parking garage entrance is on right, close to corner of 10th and Lemon
Take a ticket and park in the visitor parking area.
Please note that we are no longer able to validate parking.
From I-215 southbound or 91 Freeway westbound, near 60 Freeway:
Exit Mission Inn Avenue
Turn right on Mission Inn Avenue
Turn left on Lime Street, which is the first light
Turn right on 10th Street, 3 blocks down. (loading zone is on right)
To parking garage:
Turn right on Lemon Street, which is the first street
Parking garage entrance is on right, close to corner of 10th and Lemon
Take a ticket and park in visitor parking area
Please note that we are no longer able to validate parking.
Note: You may see “Pacific Premier Bank” signs on top of the building and at street level from Lime Street.

What is the RCA contact information?

Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority
Riverside Centre Building
3403 10th Street, Suite 320
Riverside, CA 92501
Phone (951) 955-9700
Fax (951) 955-8873

What are the RCA business hours?

Business Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm

Can I meet with the RCA?

Yes! The RCA has two monthly meetings. We have the RCA/Wildlife Agencies meeting that occurs on every 3rd Thursday of every month, and RCA offers a Pre-Application Meeting every 2nd Wednesday for projects impacting riparian/riverine resources and federal/state jurisdictional waters and wetlands. Please contact the RCA for more information.

Questions About the Website or Viewing Documents:

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