Central Valley Habitat Exchange

Central Valley Habitat Exchange

client Central Valley Habitat Exchange instructors Leon Szeptycki
deliverables Policy Report; Legal Memoranda; Oral Briefing number of students students (Law)
deadline Winter 2015 quarters offered Autumn, Winter


This policy lab assists in developing more flexible and effective wildlife habitat mitigation tools for use in California’s Central Valley, a landscape that presents the challenge of taking advantage of the habitat potential provided by working agricultural lands. Habitat mitigation is an important tool under a variety of environmental and wildlife protection statutes, both state and federal. Current regulatory frameworks usually require that habitat mitigation employ permanent easements or long-term contracts fixed in particular locations, despite the fact that species have changing habitat needs. Many species are migratory and must move across the landscape to survive; a changing climate and shifting human activity only increase the dynamic nature of habitat needs. Legal and policy frameworks must be structured to ensure that species and their habitat are protected in the most effective manner possible. Additionally, there is a need for a robust market mechanism that recognizes the inherent natural capital and species habitat provided by working agricultural lands, and compensates landowners for the value of those resources. In the face of significant upcoming conservation and mitigation needs for California, new policies and regulatory frameworks are necessary, and must be rooted in rigorous science, be consistent with existing legal frameworks, and accomplish the dual goals of promoting species recovery and maintaining agricultural production. Students in the practicum will analyze cutting-edge issues related to species habitat and protection. They will help provide recommendations to the Central Valley Habitat Exchange (CVHE) in the development of more flexible and marketable habitat mitigation tools that can be used under a variety of programs, including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, state wildlife laws, and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The CVHE is a new initiative that takes advantage of the emerging market of habitat credits by maximizing the benefits of the habitat that willing agricultural landowners can provide. The CVHE will facilitate investment in conservation and restoration of vital and dynamic Central Valley floodplain and riparian habitat by promoting, monitoring and assisting in the exchange of habitat credits. Students will tackle issues of permanence and change from legal, policy, economic, and scientific perspectives, depending on their existing skill set and research needs. During the quarter, visitors from the CVHE Working Group – which includes members from national environmental non-profits, government agencies, and the private sector – will share their perspectives, and students will be invited to present their findings and make recommendations to help inform development of the CVHE.

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Clients & Deliverables



  • Policy Report

This practicum assisted in developing more flexible and effective wildlife habitat mitigation tools for use in California’s Central Valley, balancing habitat potential with agricultural uses. Students helped advise the Central Valley Habitat Exchange (CVHE) on marketable habitat mitigation tools that can be used under a variety of programs to accomplish the dual goals of promoting species recovery and maintaining agricultural production.