The Lands That Form the MSHCP

Jul 27, 2023 | MSHCP, Recreational

Hidden Valley Recreation Area in Norco

In the nearly two decades since the RCA was created to implement one of the nation’s largest and most ambitious conservation efforts – the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) – more than 82% of the 500,000-acre reserve has been assembled. Through these lands, the MSHCP seeks to protect the 146 native plant and animal species in western Riverside County.

But what do these protected lands look like? The MSHCP reserve is made up of two distinct land types: Public/Quasi-Public Lands (PQP) and Additional Reserve Lands.

A large chunk of lands was already in protection as open space prior to the MSHCP’s inception in 2004. These lands are called PQP Lands and consist of 347,000 acres that are owned by the public or have quasi-public owners. The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Lake Skinner, and the Hidden Valley Wildlife Areas are a few examples of PQPs, which provide recreational opportunities and conservation. PQP Lands are managed by local, state, and federal agencies and are the backbone of the MSHCP reserve system. These lands provide open space value to the 146 species but are not expressly managed for the species.

Aerial photo of Banning, California

Lake Skinner Recreation Area

Additional Reserve Lands are those that the RCA in conjunction with the other local land use Permittees of the Plan and state and federal partners must acquire to complete the 500,000-acre reserve. Unlike PQP Lands, these lands are to be managed at a higher ecological level and strictly for the conservation of the 146 MSHCP species, limiting recreation on these lands. Through the first quarter of 2023, 66,671 of the required 153,000 acres of Additional Reserve Lands have been acquired or donated through the development process. RCA actively seeks to purchase lands that are described as needed by the MSHCP.

Riverside County’s increasingly growing population underscores the critical importance of habitat conservation. The protected lands will not only benefit the 146 native animal and plant species, but also address climate change, protect biodiversity, enhance public health, and increase equitable access to open space.

To view an interactive map of the MSHCP reserve assembly, click here.