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Evaluation of the metropolitan Bakersfield habitat conservation plan
The growing community of Bakersfield, California, is home to a variety of unique plant and animal species, some which are in danger of becoming extinct. As development occurs, critical habitat for these species is sometimes lost. Fortunately, there is a local public policy in place that addresses this issue; the Metropolitan Bakersfield Habitat Conservation Plan. By closely examining this policy, this program evaluation assessed implementation and impacts to stakeholders, strengths and weaknesses, benefits, and compared similar habitat conservation policies for thoroughness and effectiveness. What this evaluation found was since its adoption in 1994, this local policy has actively strived to “balance issues related to both species protection and the economic health of the community” (City 2017). For endangered plant and animal species, active steps are now taken to ensure their sustainability, and permanent suitable habitats are being created. Likewise, members of the community – developers, land owners, tax payers – have also benefited. Today, clear and consistent procedures are in place, facilitating a more expeditious development process. Although this policy has proven effective, it is over 20 years old and is set to expire in 2019. Therefore, it is strongly recommended the policy be updated soon to ensure it reflects current laws and conditions, that it utilizes the most efficient steps to accomplish its goals, and that it not be allowed to expire. It is further recommended this policy be improved upon by including: 1) measurable and attainable metrics and data points; 2) innovative approaches for improved preservation efforts; and 3) the tracking of migration paths, as well as population tracking, that is reported annually to appropriate oversight agencies.
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