Special-status species are plants and animals that are legally protected under the State and/or federal Endangered Species Acts or other regulations, as well as other species that are considered rare enough by the scientific community and trustee agencies to warrant special consideration. Many sensitive natural community types support special-status plants and animals and are addressed under CEQA as essential habitat for those species.

At the local level, the 2005 General Plan contains policies in the Natural Resources and Conservation Element that call for the protection or enhancement of environmental resources and habitat for threatened and endangered species (Policy NRC 1.1), identification and protection of habitats of endangered species (Policy NRC 1.2), developers to assure the provision of compensatory habitat (Policy NRC 1.3), and the use of mitigation bank to offset the cumulative effects of development on habitat for special-status species (Policy NRC 1.4).

The 2020 Existing Conditions Biological Resources Report identified Critical Habitat for the California tiger salamander and California red-legged frog, which are both protected special-status species, within the General Plan Planning Area. California tiger salamander have been reported at the periphery of Hollister, including the eastern hills, the plains along the San Benito River corridor, and in the vicinity of the Hollister airport.  The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the hillsides in the eastern hills, generally east of Fairview Road, as Critical Habitat for the California tiger salamander. Occurrences of California red-legged frogs have also been reported within the General Plan Planning Area along the San Benito River, Santa Ana Creek, and drainages with suitable habitat in the eastern and southwestern hills. Designated Critical Habitat for the California red-legged frog occurs in the southern and southwestern portion of the General Plan Planning Area, extending south of Tres Pinos through the Gabilan Mountains.

Although federal, state, and local regulations provide for the protection of the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) and California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii), the General Plan Update could bolster existing protections by requiring potential development to avoid and/or provide buffer zones between a proposed project and Critical Habitat.

Question Title

* 1. What policies, if any, should the General Plan include to limit or avoid impacts on Critical Habitat for California tiger salamander and California red-legged frog? (Choose one from the list below.)