Regional Habitat Conservation Planning Under the Endangered Species Act
This Article does not attempt to resolve all the compelling questions posed by the conflicting policy objectives associated with the ESA. Rather, the Article focuses on an important emerging issue - the concept of a regional habitat conservation plan (RHCP) - that perhaps more than any other issue under the ESA today finds those conflicting policies in a head-on collision. An RHCP is a mechanism for allowing current and future development in a large geographic area to obtain ESA approval at an early stage. Because such development otherwise would have to undergo ESA review on a project-by-project basis, the RHCP can provide "one-stop shopping" to resolve a region's present and future ESA issues. But do not expect to find any reference in the ESA to a "regional habitat." The concept is a result of the combined efforts of land developers trying to avoid the dire consequences of the ESA's prohibitions, environmentalists trying to enforce and sometimes even to broaden the reach of those prohibitions, and federal officials trying to cope with these two opposing groups by using vague and outdated laws and regulations.