The Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan

Black-capped Vireo Delisted

In May 2018, the black-capped vireo was removed from the federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Its continued survival in Travis County has been made possible in large part by the conservation and active management of its habitat on lands like the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP).

The vireo is one of the eight endangered species that the 31,849-acre BCP was created to protect in 1996. The delisting of the vireo will not affect the BCP – it will continue providing habitat for this rare bird, as well as the seven still-endangered species and 27 species of concern found on the preserve. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s decision to delist the vireo was made with the assumption that protected habitat would remain intact and continue to be managed for the species.

Landowners who wish to remove black-capped vireo habitat from their properties are no longer required to mitigate for that removal. Before beginning a construction or clearing project, however, please check the habitat map to see if there may be endangered golden-cheeked warbler or karst invertebrate habitat on your property.

To learn more, visit our Development Guidance page.

Read the joint Travis County/City of Austin statement on the black-capped vireo delisting here.

Clearing Restrictions in Place March 1st- August 31st

It’s nesting season for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler. Before you cut or clear trees or woody vegetation west of I-35, please check to see if restrictions apply. A permit is required to disturb or remove endangered species habitat any time of year, but even permit-holders cannot disturb the birds’ habitat between March 1 and August 31. For help determining whether you may have endangered species on your property, and to learn about mitigation options, visit our Development Guidance page.

BCP Public Access Chapter

The Public Access Chapter of the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (BCCP) Land Management Plan is in the process of being updated. The draft Public Access Chapter does not propose any changes to public access on the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP).

The terms of the permit that created the BCP require that Land Management Plans (LMP) be created, then periodically reviewed and updated. The Public Access Chapter of the LMP is being updated now to clarify and streamline existing guidance and to incorporate the City of Austin BCP Trail Master Planning Process (TMP). The TMP, a joint effort of BCP stakeholder groups and staff, details a process for creating new sustainable trails on the BCP.

BCCP 2017 Land Management Plan Public Access Chapter (DRAFT)

Public comment was received via online survey and at the December 1st 2017 meeting of the BCCP Coordinating Committee. Staff is currently working on incorporating these comments in a second draft of the Public Access Chapter.

About the BCCP

On May 2, 1996, Travis County and the City of Austin were jointly issued a regional permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allowed incidental “take” of eight locally occurring federally-listed endangered species under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act. “Take” is the removal of occupied endangered species habitat or species displacement due to development of habitat areas. This community-based solution, referred to as the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (BCCP), called for the creation of a preserve system to protect these eight endangered species as well as 27 other species believed to be at risk. Download a full copy of the plan here: BCCP Habitat Conservation Plan and Permit.

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The BCCP is a 30 year regional permit that allows for incidental take outside of proposed preserve lands, and provides mitigation for the construction of new roads and infrastructure projects by the participating agencies (Travis County, the City of Austin, and the Lower Colorado River Authority). Landowners and developers may elect to participate in the BCCP to mitigate for development of endangered species habitat rather than mitigating directly through USFWS. In 2018, one of the eight endangered species, the black-capped vireo, was removed from the federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Its habitat will continue to be protected on the preserve, but landowners no longer need to mitigate for removal of black-capped vireo habitat on their properties. The other seven species are still considered to be endangered.

To minimize and mitigate the impacts of take, the Permit Holders agreed to:

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  • assemble a minimum of 30,428 acres of endangered species habitat in western Travis County known as the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP), and secure protection for a series of karst (cave) features and rare plants in Travis County;
  • provide for ongoing maintenance, patrolling, and biological management of the preserved habitat; and
  • conduct biological monitoring and research activities supporting the BCCP permit terms and conditions.
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Status of BCP land acquisition: 30,428 acres of suitable endangered species habitat were required to be assembled and managed within twenty years of issuance of the permit (i.e. by 2016). The BCCP Managing Partners (Travis County, the City of Austin, and the Lower Colorado River Authority), in cooperation with non-profit conservation organizations including Travis Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy of Texas and private landowners, have assembled more than 31,800 acres of preserve lands, exceeding the minimum size required by the permit. While this large and once very daunting goal has been met, the BCCP partners still have some work before them. This includes strategic acquisitions to address the minimum acreage requirements for each of seven individual macrosites, the acquisition of key tracts to provide a preserve configuration essential to species recovery, and the protection of 62 named caves.

For more information about the BCCP, please contact Travis County Staff.

The BCCP Celebrates 20 Years!

On May 6, 2016 more than 150 people came together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (BCCP). The BCCP was a landmark deal that has served as a model across the nation. It was created through a collaboration of policy-makers, developers, scientists, environmentalists, and other local stakeholders. After eight local species were listed as endangered, these partners worked to find a way to allow development to continue while complying with federal law. The BCCP they created provides private property owners an easy, cost-effective way to mitigate for the removal of endangered species habitat while protecting the most ideal habitat within the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. For the past 20 years, the BCCP has kept Travis County moving and protected more than 30,000 acres of beautiful Balcones Canyonlands. 

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Contact Us

PO Box 1748
700 Lavaca street, Suite 540
Austin, Texas 78767
Phone: (512) 854-9437

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New Endangered and Threatened Species

On Aug, 20, 2013 US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Austin Blind Salamander as endangered and Jollyville Plateau Salamander as threatened species.If you think your project may be affected, please contact US Fish and Wildlife Service at (512) 490-0057 in Austin. The BCCP does not provide a permitting option for those species.