Regional Conservation Investment Strategy

Regional Conservation Investment Strategy


The Regional Transportation Commission, in coordination with the Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation District, is developing a Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (RCIS). The Santa Cruz County RCIS will be reviewed and approved by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Once finalized, the Santa Cruz County RCIS may help expedite delivery of transportation projects by facilitating regional advance mitigation planning: a process in which the environmental mitigation for impacts from multiple projects can be pooled and conducted in advance, resulting in larger conservation projects that have greater benefits, and potential mitigation for transportation projects is identified in advance of final project design.

Three main conservation planning steps are being used to develop the SCCRCIS:

  1. Assess the environmental setting and identify the conservation elements which will be the focus of the SCCRCIS (current step) 
  2. Identify the pressures and stressors to the conservation elements (current step)
  3. Develop a conservation strategy that includes goals, objectives, actions, and priorities for each conservation element, addresses their respective pressures and stressors, incorporates information from prior conservation plans, and acheives the broader goals for Santa Cruz County’s RCIS (forthcoming)

Santa Cruz County RCIS

(Draft) Environmental Setting and Conservation Elements

The draft of the Environmental Setting and Conservation Elements section of the Santa Cruz County Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (SCCRCIS) is now available for review and input.

Project Description

AB 2087 (2016)  establishes a conservation planning tool called a Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (RCIS) with the goals to:

  1. Identify high-value conservation and habitat enhancement opportunities within a region that will aid in species recovery, adaptation to climate change, and resiliency in the face of development pressures.
  2. Provide a science-based guide for voluntary
    conservation and mitigation actions implemented by
    a state agency, local governments, non-government
    organizations (NGOs) or private entities.

In addition to providing important biological information that policy makers and land-use planners may use to balance wildlife and development interests, an RCIS also allows public and private entities to enter into Mitigation Credit Agreements (MCAs). MCAs create mitigation credits in advance of development impacts by implementing conservation or enhancement actions to achieve the goals and strategies outlined in an RCIS. In exchange, infrastructure entities or other developers may use this advance mitigation tool to offset impacts of future development projects. RCISs may be used to guide mitigation funding to key areas of biological importance. A state agency or private entity may enter into an MCA if the mitigation site is within an approved RCIS area.

Stakeholder Group Meetings

December 04, 2020

April 28, 2020

Technical Advisory Committee Meetings

June 25, 2020

Schedule Overview

Sept. 2020 – February 2021 Characterize Existing Conditions and Identify Conservation Elements
January 11 – February 19, 2021 Online Public Workshop CLOSED
January 21, 2021 Virtual Public Meeting via Zoom from 6-8pm, Public Meeting Presentation
April – July 2021 Assess Pressures and Stressors/Draft Conservation Goals, Objectives, and Actions
August 2021 – February 2022 Develop Admin Draft SCCRCIS
March 2022 – June 2022 Revise SCCRCIS Public Workshop and Review
August 2022 Finalize SCCRCIS


Grace Blakeslee, Senior Transportation Planner