In anticipation of obtaining an incidental take permit, Pima County (Arizona) began acquiring mitigation land in 2004. The County’s permit and Multi-species Conservation Plan was not finalized until 2016.  Concurrent with these mitigation efforts, the County also developed or strengthened species avoidance and minimization measures. Advance planning paid off as the economy improved and the need for the incidental take permit increased.

Pima County’s incidental take permit was not developed in isolation; rather it built upon a broader foundation of community interest in land use, wildlife movement and conservation, expanding the tax base, and values around natural beauty and quality of life.  The Pima County Board of Supervisors chose to embrace these broader community conversations and themes, which ultimately resulted in the successful 2004 open space bond election and adoption of a local plan for protecting cultural and natural heritage.  This local plan was then implemented through the County land use plan.

Advance implementation had many benefits:

  • Habitat protection began prior to a major real estate boom;
  • We had time to test and fine-tune avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures, prior to any final commitments in the habitat conservation plan;
  • It reduced uncertainty about what could be delivered and funded under the incidental take permit;
  • Experimentation and demonstration of feasible measures built trust between local and federal agencies, and between local government and the community;
  • Because new programs were largely implemented already, they became part of the “no action” alternative, which simplified the Environmental Impact Statement process.

To learn more about Pima County’s Multi-species Conservation Plan, visit our website:

Julia Fonseca, Pima County Office of Sustainability and Conservation