Black-capped Vireo Delisted

In May 2018, the black-capped vireo was removed from the federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The vireo was one of the eight endangered species that the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan and Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP) were created to protect. The delisting does not affect the preserve – the land will continue to be preserved in perpetuity. However, landowners who wish to remove black-capped vireo habitat from their properties are no longer required to mitigate for the removal of that habitat. 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.

Public Participation Process

The Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (BCCP) was created to assist Travis County landowners in complying with the Endangered Species Act. The plan is a voluntary, streamlined alternative to obtaining an “Incidental Take” or “10(a)” permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The BCCP strikes a balance between community demands for growth and economic development and compliance with federal law by protecting more than 30,000 acres to offset habitat impacts in Travis County.

Travis County administers the public participation program on behalf of the BCCP Coordinating Committee. In this role, the County works with landowners and developers planning to develop land in endangered species habitat to mitigate “take” through participation in the BCCP. “Take” is defined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect any threatened or endangered species. Harm may include significant habitat modification where it actually kills or injures a listed species through impairment of essential behavior (e.g., nesting or reproduction)”.

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The County processes applications for residential and commercial development, consults with the USFWS on actions taken by the Service, provides mitigation fee zone information, accepts mitigation fees, and issues Participation Certificates.

The City of Austin manages the infrastructure mitigation program on behalf of the BCCP Coordinating Committee. This process allows for construction of roadways, utilities, and other capital improvement projects throughout the permit area.

Species Covered by the BCCP

The BCCP covers “take” of eight federally endangered species: the golden-cheeked warbler, the Tooth Cave pseudoscorpion, the Tooth Cave spider, the Tooth Cave ground beetle, the Kretschmarr Cave mold beetle, the Bee Creek Cave harvestman, the Bone Cave harvestman, and the black-capped vireo. The vireo was removed from the endangered species list in May 2018, so landowners no longer need to mitigate for the removal of its habitat on their property. The other seven species remain endangered.

While habitat of the threatened Jollyville Plateau salamander is protected on the BCP, incidental take of threatenend or endangered salamander habitat is not covered by the BCCP. If your project physically alters spring sites, potentially alters surface water or aquifer water quality or quantity, flow or other hydrologic regimes, including fill or sediment introduction to the drainages listed below, then you are advised to contact the City of Austin’s Watershed Protection and Development Review Department at (512) 974-1862 or the USFWS at (512) 490-0057 before planning or proceeding with the project.

  • Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer,
  • Northern segment of the Edwards Aquifer
  • Trinity Aquifer,
  • Local alluvial aquifers, or
  • Barton Creek, Cypress Creek, Bull Creek, Shoal Creek/Town Lake, or Walnut Creek surface watersheds.

Applications

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BCCP Participation Certificate applications are processed free of charge, and are typically completed within 15 business days. You may download a Participation Application (pdf) from this web site or pick up an application in person from the Travis County’s Natural Resources Program office located on the 5th floor at 700 Lavaca in Austin Texas. Regular Business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.

There is no application fee and submission of an application does not obligate the applicant to participate through the BCCP. Landowners always have the opportunity to consult with USFWS to address mitigation concerns.

Once a completed application is received, Travis County staff determines the cost to participate based on the mitigation fee zone maps approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mitigation fee zone determinations are rounded to the nearest tenth of an acre, and assessments will be based on the amount of mitigation fee zone acreage within the entire legal tax parcel(s). Any deviation from this process may require Travis County staff to consult with USFWS and/or the BCCP Coordinating Committee, which may extend the turnaround time for processing an application.

Information required to complete an application:

  • Legal description of the property
  • Tax parcel ID number(s)
  • Survey (if recently subdivided) data preferably in a .shp file in Texas Stateplane, central zone coordinates, .dwg or .dxf files with control points, or lastly metes and bounds descriptions with distances and bearings.

Participation Fee Schedule

The BCCP Coordinating Committee, the permit holders and the USFWS have approved annual Citizens Advisory Committee recommendations regarding the Participation Certificate mitigation fee structure since 1998. The current fees were approved by the Travis County Commissioners Court effective September 20, 2011. On May 31, 2012, the BCCP Coordinating Committee implemented the recommendation of the Citizens Advisory Committee to continue the current fee structure indefinitely.

  • GCWA (zone 1) = $5,500 / acre
  • GCWA (zone 2) = $2,750 / acre
  • BCVI zone = no fee
  • Karst zone = $1,000 / acre

The Citizens Advisory Committee will consider the current fee structure and make recommendations to the BCCP Coordinating Committee as needed.

Other Options for Landowner Participation

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The Permit holders and the USFWS have provided a range of options available to landowners as they seek to mitigate for proposed development. Special Provisions Certificates are available for landowners with lands meeting certain legal tests. Examples of these Special Provisions include the single family residential lot provision. This provision applies to landowners wishing to construct one single-family home on a lot which was legally recorded on or before May 04, 1990, which will result in an area of disturbance of no more than 0.75 acres (approximately 32,670 square feet). Other Special Provisions such as an Agricultural Provision covering ongoing ranching and farming operations are also available.

  • Small landowners: single-family home on a tract up to 100 acres that was in existence before 5/4/90, or one home per 15 acres or more: $2,000 per lot
  • Agricultural construction: clearing for new structures (barns, paddocks, etc.) associated with current ranching or farming operations: $1,500 per acre
  • Land in lieu of fees: land that qualifies for transfer to the Preserve and is adjacent to or inside the Preserve acquisition area may receive mitigation credit to apply to land developed outside the Preserve.
  • Conservation easements: may be donated in lieu of fees on lands with appropriate habitat.

Participation Contract

Applicants who decide to participate will be required to sign a participation contract. The contract, entered into between the participant and the Balcones Canyonlands Coordinating Committee, will be recorded in Travis County's real property records. Participation Certificates run with the land similar to an easement. Sample participation contracts are available by contacting the Travis County BCCP Administrator at BCCP@traviscountytx.gov

Participant's Commitment

After the participation contract is signed and a Participation Certificate is issued, the participant is free to begin clearing for construction. However, clearing is subject to the terms and conditions of the participation contract and may not be conducted from March 1 through August 31 on tracts containing golden-cheeked warbler habitat.

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Additionally, if and when construction activity uncovers new caves or significant karst features, such work must cease and the local US Fish and Wildlife Ecological Services office should be notified to check the cave for endangered species. Land owners may get assistance from karst geological or biological consultants to assist in expediting the USFWS clearance for construction to resume.

The Participation Certificate must be posted at the construction site from the time clearing begins until construction is completed.

For more information about participation in the BCCP, please contact us.

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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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