Habitat Assessment and Surveys

If the project area can potentially support Covered plant species, a Qualified Biologist will conduct a survey for Covered plant species within 1 year prior to commencement of ground-disturbing activities, to capture the bloom period(s) of all covered plant species with potential to occur. The USFWS-approved species-specific habitat assessment and survey protocols at the time when this document was written are listed below in the Species-Specific Measures. Existing methodologies may change and new methodologies may be developed. Project proponents should coordinate with the respective USFWS Field Office about protocols when developing a project description/completing the ESA Section 7(a)(2) Review Form. Surveys should follow USFWS’s General Rare Plant Survey Guidelines (Cypher 2002); and CDFW’s Protocols for Surveying and Evaluating Impacts to Special Status Native Plant Populations and Sensitive Natural Communities (CDFW 2018), or their most recent equivalents. Additional guidelines are provided for Burke’s goldfields, a plant of the Santa Rosa Plain (USFWS 1996a). If surveys are not possible, then covered plants will be assumed to be present in all suitable habitats in the project area.

– Timing: The survey(s) must be conducted when all potentially occurring covered plants are identifiable, usually in the flowering, peak flowering, or fruiting stage. Blooming time periods are provided in Table 13.

– Reference Populations: Known nearby reference populations should be visited to confirm annual blooming period and identification at the same time as the survey(s).

– Method: Surveys will be conducted in a manner that avoids direct impact (e.g., crushing) of Covered or other sensitive plants.

– Flagging: All identified Covered Species will be flagged prior to senescence. Flagging or other field markers identifying the plants–or, in the event that protocol-level surveys were not conducted, the suitable habitat–will be placed prior to each work event and removed after that work event is completed for all phases of the proposed project.

– Reporting: The Project Proponent will submit a report to the USFWS in advance of any ground-disturbing activities. The report will provide the results of all surveys, a summary of all the data collected, and the habitat assessment. Information regarding the location of Covered plant populations will be provided to CDFW’s CNDDB according to their reporting protocols.