biologists in cave
Biologists survey populations of endangered species that live underground in caves. Photo by Heather Valey.

There is no fee to apply for a Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (BCCP) permit. Habitat determinations are provided within three weeks of the receipt of a completed application. You may download a BCCP Permit Application (pdf) or request one via email.

Neither submitting a BCCP permit application nor receiving a habitat determination letter from the County obligates an applicant to obtain a BCCP permit. Landowners always have the option to consult with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to address mitigation concerns. To learn more about your options for compliance with the Endangered Species Act, see Development in Endangered Species Habitat.

Once an application is submitted, the County will calculate a mitigation fee for the proposed project to obtain a BCCP permit. This mitigation fee is calculated using the habitat map and corresponding mitigation fee zones; calculations are rounded to the nearest tenth of an acre. Mitigation fees are applicable to the entire legal tax parcel(s) in which the project will occur. Because the BCCP is a streamlined alternative to working with USFWS, the County is not able to assess mitigation quotes for only a portion of a legal tax parcel. Incomplete applications or any deviation from this process may extend the permit processing time.

Only infrastructure projects such as roads, utility infrastructure, and cell towers can be mitigated based on project area. Infrastructure projects are assessed by the BCCP Public Participation Infrastructure Process administered by the City of Austin. For more information about participating, see BCCP Infrastructure Process.

BCCP Permit Fee Schedule and Commitment

Fee Schedule:

  • Golden-cheeked warbler Zone 1 (confirmed habitat) = $5,500/acre
  • Golden-cheeked warbler Zone 2 (unconfirmed habitat) = $2,750/acre
  • Black-capped vireo habitat = $0/acre (species delisted in 2018)
  • Karst Zone = $1,000/ acre

Applicants who choose to obtain a BCCP permit will be required to sign a contract. The BCCP permit and contract, entered into between the applicant and the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan Coordinating Committee, will be recorded in Travis County's real property records. BCCP permits and contracts run in perpetuity with the land, similar to an easement.

Terms of a BCCP Permit

development stillshot
Development that has been mitigated through the BCCP adjacent to the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve.

After the participation contract is signed and a BCCP permit (sometimes referred to as BCCP Participation Certificate) is issued, the permittee is free to begin clearing for construction. However, clearing is subject to the terms and conditions of the contract and may not be conducted from March 1 through August 31 on properties containing golden-cheeked warbler habitat.

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

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

For more information about BCCP permits, please contact us.

Special Provisions

The BCCP Agricultural Provision applies to ongoing ranching and farming operations that may impact endangered species.

BCCP Special Provisions permits are available for landowners whose property meets certain legal requirements. The single-family residential lot provision applies to landowners who are building one single-family home on a lot that 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 the Agricultural Provision apply to ongoing ranching and farming operations.

The BCCP Agricultural Provision is not related to the Texas Central Appraisal District’s (TCAD) Wildlife Exemption or Agricultural Exemptions / Special Valuations. For more information about the TCAD property tax exemption programs, please see