San Benito map  detail

A statewide effort to conserve wildlife habitat and open space corridors has some South County residents concerned with the role of government agencies in private land management.

The California Department of Fish and Game and the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) commissioned a team of consultants to produce a statewide assessment of essential habitat connectivity by February of 2010, using the best available science, data sets, spatial analyses and modeling techniques.

The goal was to identify large remaining blocks of intact habitat or natural landscape and model linkages between them that need to be maintained, particularly as corridors for wildlife.

Over sixty federal, state, local, tribal and non-governmental organizations collaborated in the creation of :

  1. A statewide wildlife habitat connectivity map using a Geographic Information System (GIS) based modeling approach;
  2. An assessment of the biological value of identified connectivity areas; and
  3. A strategic plan that helps varied end users interpret and use the statewide map and outlines a methodology necessary for completing connectivity analyses at finer spatial scales. For information, you may view a Fact Sheet here.

San Benito County is an important part of the state’s biological corridors due to its central location that links crucial north-south corridors of wildlife and open space. Critics of statewide and federal conservation programs say they have failed to involve San Benito County residents in their planning, particularly the landowners who may be affected. Economic viability and preserving livelihoods for rural families are often not considered in larger conservation plans developed by outside agencies, a flaw that property owners say needs to be addressed. What do you think? Post your comments below.