California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

What is the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Unit?

Meandering River in the Delta

Photo by Department of Water Resources

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan Unit represents CDFW in the development of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). The BDCP is being developed as a Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP), as defined in the California Natural Community Conservation Planning Act (NCCPA; Fish and Game Code § 2800). As the project applicant, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is responsible for preparing the plan in coordination with other plan participants. CDFW is an active partner in BDCP and assists the applicant in all stages of plan preparation to ensure that the BDCP meets the conservation standards set forth in the NCCPA.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

The BDCP is a cooperative effort to protect habitats and species and is being prepared by state and federal agencies, a group of local water agencies, environmental and conservation organizations, and other interest groups.

The BDCP is being developed in compliance with the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the NCCPA. The California NCCPA and the ESA allow for the development of joint NCCPs and Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) by applicants seeking permits for activities affecting threatened and/or endangered species. The BDCP, like all NCCPs to date, is being developed as a joint HCP/NCCP. HCP/NCCPs take a broad-based, ecosystem planning approach to provide for the regional protection and conservation of fish and wildlife, plants, and their habitats, while continuing to allow compatible and appropriate development and growth.

When complete, the BDCP will provide the basis for the issuance of endangered species permits for proposed new north Delta water diversion facilities, the operation of these and existing facilities, and various other proposed activities (referred to as Covered Activities). Included among the Covered Activities are conservation measures such as habitat protection and restoration that will provide for a healthy Delta ecosystem and a comprehensive conservation strategy that addresses over 60 species. The Covered Activities have the potential to take¹ threatened, endangered, or other protected species and/or species that may potentially become listed as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act or the ESA. The BDCP will provide for the conservation of species while serving as the basis for permits under federal and state endangered species laws for the Covered Activities.

For more information regarding the BDCP, visit the official website.

For more information on Natural Community Conservation Plans and Habitat Conservation Plans, see the following links:

¹ State and federal regulations have different definitions of "take." The State defines take as "hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill" (Fish and Game Code § 86). Whereas, the federal ESA § 3(18) definition includes "to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct."

California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act

In concert with the development of the HCP/NCCP, a joint Environmental Impact Report/Statement (EIR/EIS) will be prepared for the BDCP to satisfy requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). DWR is the CEQA lead agency for development of the EIR. The U.S Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are the federal co-lead agencies developing the EIS.

For more information on CEPA and NEPA, see the following links:

CDFWs Role in the BDCP

As an active partner in the development of the BDCP, the BDCP Unit assists the applicant in all stages of plan preparation, ensuring that the HCP/NCCP meets the conservation standards set forth in the NCCPA and ESA. Unit staff are responsible for assisting the applicant in BDCP development through consultations with the applicant, supply of technical information and expertise, participation in meetings with the applicant and stakeholders to develop the plan, and review of draft documents.

The state and federal fish and wildlife agencies (collectively, fish and wildlife agencies) have somewhat different programs under the NCCPA and ESA. In an effort to streamline the process and provide consistency to plan participants, the fish and wildlife agencies strive to present a unified perspective. This requires a significant on-going effort to coordinate among fish and wildlife agencies on all plan issues.

In order to approve the final BDCP as a NCCP, CDFW must be able to make specific findings based on the plan. These findings address the statutory requirements of a conservation plan that is developed as an NCCP. CDFW staff work with the plan applicant and other stakeholders to ensure that the final BDCP will address the requirements of the NCCPA, so that CDFW will ultimately be able to make these findings.

CDFW is also a responsible agency and a trustee agency under CEQA. As a responsible agency, CDFW must use the environmental document prepared by DWR or prepare a supplemental document to issue CEQA findings. As trustee agency, CDFW is responsible for protecting the natural resources in the public trust (Fish and Game Code § 1802). The BDCP unit provides technical input in the form of comments and recommendations to DWR on BDCP environmental documents.

The BDCP Unit is the lead for CDFWs review of BDCP documents. The BDCP Unit coordinates with CDFW branches including the Habitat Conservation Planning Branch, Fisheries Branch, and appropriate Regions to provide substantial technical input in the preparation of the BDCP.

For more information, contact Chad Dibble at or (916) 445-1202.