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Hays County Regional Habitat Conservation Plan

The Hays County Commissioners Court voted to implement its federally approved Regional Habitat Conservation Plan (RHCP) in July 2013 following six years of staff development that culminated in federal approval.

In Hays County, the ESA applied initially to the golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia) and the recently de-listed black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla), but the RHCP also protects as many as 56 additional species considered rare or threatened.

Located in the heart of Central Texas and the Balcones Canyonlands region of the Edwards Plateau, Hays County is home to a diverse native wildlife and plant community. Dense woodlands and open savannas of live oak, Ashe juniper, and honey mesquite in the limestone hills and valleys of the area provide habitat for federally endangered golden-cheeked warblers (Dendroica chrysoparia) and black-capped vireos (Vireo atricapilla).

Take a look at the latest Potential Habitat Map for the golden-cheeked warbler.

The RHCP also protects spring-fed waterways that dissect the hills, helping recharge the Edwards and Trinity aquifers. A wide variety of aquatic species depend on the water quality and quantity these drainages collect.

Residential subdivision construction and other forms of urban development are quickly fragmenting the large and contiguous patches of juniper-oak woodland habitat that is valuable habitat for endangered wildlife. With continued, rapid growth in what had been a primarily rural county the RHCP helps balance the needs of the growing population with responsible economic development and good public infrastructure, while also creating open space recreational opportunities.

The Hays County RHCP was prepared with the assistance of a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Hays County also sought the input of advisory committees and environmental, economic, and legal consultants to help prepare the HCP and other documents needed to obtain an Endangered Species Act incidental take permit.

Current properties held by Hays County under the RHCP include:
La Cima Preserve (for golden-cheeked warbler habitat)
Wildenthal Preserve (for golden-cheeked warbler habitat)
Gay Ruby Dahlstrom Nature Preserve (for water quality protection)
Jacob’s Well Natural Area (a protected area – not a formal preserve – for water quality protection)

Questions? Comments? Please contact Hays County Natural Resources Coordinator Alexandra Thompson at alexandra.thompson@co.hays.tx.us or 512-393-2156.

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