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Multi-species Conservation Plan

If you have any questions or would like more information, email the Pima County Office of Sustainability and Conservation or call
(520) 724-6460. 

Pima County’s Multi-species Conservation Plan (MSCP) has been approved by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service! Read about the federal decision here. The MSCP is the part of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan that addresses endangered species compliance.  Pima County and Pima County Regional Flood Control will receive a federal "Section 10" permit that streamlines endangered species compliance for new development and formalizes the County's conservation commitments already made under the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

The following links provide more detailed information about the MSCP and the new option for private sector participation:MSCP Section 10 booklet

Over 600 public meetings and a decade of public and expert review occurred before Pima County formally applied to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a Section 10 permit. A Notice of Availability and Notice of Public Meetings for the Draft MSCP, Draft Appendices and Draft EIS were posted in the Federal Register on December 7, 2012 (77 FR 73045). The USFWS' Arizona Ecological Services website hosts these and other federal documents.

During the formal comment period (7 December 2012 - 15 March 2013) for the Pima County Draft MSCP/Draft EIS Pima County held five public meetings to solicit input on the Draft MSCP. The USFWS held one public comment meeting for the EIS on February 21, 2013.  Detailed information concerning public involvement and a record of comments received during scoping and public comment periods are provided in Chapter 6 of the Final EIS.  Further, below are a collection of Board memos providing a timeline of how and why Pima County's MSCP was developed, as well as why the MSCP is good for both economic development and conservation.

Pima County Board of Supervisors' Memos


The area in which Pima County is seeking a Section 10 permit  is known as the Permit Area and is a subset of Pima County that includes those lands under the legal authority of Pima County. The Permit Area includes:

  • Private lands within unincorporated Pima County under the legal authority of Pima County; and
  • Lands the County owns in fee simple and lands on which the County possesses a property right, including those located within other jurisdictions such as the cities and towns of Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, and Sahuarita, and adjacent counties; and
  • Lands on which Pima County constructs and maintains infrastructure, including lands within the incorporated areas of Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, South Tucson or in adjacent counties (Santa Cruz, Cochise and Pinal). 
  • Some Bureau of Land Management Lands that Pima County might patent for open-space purposes either through the Recreation and Public Purposes Act or through future land exchanges
  • State Trust lands that are:
    • Leased to Pima County or used as road or drainage-way easements;
    • That are sold to the private sector for development and subsequently come under the regulatory authority of Pima County;
    • Where Pima County may acquire the land in fee simple.
Permit Area Map

The Section 10 permit  will provide coverage for effects to species resulting from the Covered Activities that Pima County or Pima County Regional Flood Control District authorizes or undertakes (See Chapter 3 of the MSCP for more details):

• Ground disturbances on individual, single-dwelling lots that occur subsequent to the County’s issuance of a building permit that authorizes grading of 14,000 square feet or more, provided that the property owner elects to participate in the County’s Section 10 permit;
• Ground disturbances that occur as part of—and are subsequent to—the development of a residential subdivision where such actions are subject to the County’s issuance of a site construction permit, provided the property owner elects to participate in the County’s Section 10 permit after the submittal of the site construction permit application, but prior to the County’s issuance of the site construction permit;
• Ground disturbances that occur as part of – and are subsequent to – the development of a non-residential facility where such actions are subject to the County’s issuance of a site construction permit, provided the property owner elects to participate in the County’s section 10 permit, after the submittal of the site construction permit application, but prior to the County’s issuance of the site construction permit.
• Restoration activities such as vegetation treatments (including fire management activities) that are intended to improve the biological and ecological values;
• Activities of the County including construction, repair, maintenance, and operation of County facilities and infrastructure (see MSCP section for details);
• Construction, operation, and maintenance of renewable energy generation projects located on County-owned lands leased to others specifically for that purpose;
• Relocation of utilities within County rights-of-way, where required by Pima County;
• Monitoring and land management activities including surveys, scientific studies, and other such activities carried out by Pima County and its cooperators for the purposes of this MSCP;
• Recreation activities authorized by Pima County; and
• County ranch-management activities—exclusive of livestock herbivory and trampling—on land owned by the County and lands managed by the County through grazing leases issued by the State of Arizona.

The County will cover up to approximately 36,000 acres of new ground-disturbing activities, which can come from any combination of Covered Activities. The County will reserve approximately 5,000 acres to cover its own construction and maintenance activities; the remaining 31,000 acres is allocated for ground disturbances caused by private-sector development.

Pima County's MSCP provides permit coverage for 44 species that occur in Pima County.


  • Pima pineapple cactus (Coryphantha scheeri  var. robustispina)
  • Needle-spined pineapple cactus (Echinomastus erectocentrus  var. erectocentrus)
  • Huachuca water umbel (Lilaeopsis schaffneriana ssp. recurva)
  • Tumamoc globeberry (Tumamoca macdougalii)


  • Mexican long-tongued bat (Choeronycteris mexicana)
  • Western red bat (Lasiurus blossevillii)
  • Western yellow bat (Lasiurus xanthinus)
  • Lesser long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae yerbabuena)
  • California leaf-nosed bat (Macrotus californicus)
  • Pale Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii pallescens)
  • Merriam’s mouse (Peromyscus merriami)


  • Western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea)
  • Cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum)
  • Rufous-winged sparrow (Aimophila carpalis)
  • Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
  • Yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)
  • Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus)
  • Abert’s towhee (Melozone aberti)
  • Arizona Bell’s vireo (Vireo bellii arizonea)


  • Longfin dace (Agosia chrysogaster)
  • Desert sucker (Catostomus clarki)
  • Sonora sucker (Catostomus insignis)
  • Gila chub (Gila intermedia)
  • Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis occidentalis)


  • Chiricahua leopard frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis)
  • Lowland leopard frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis)


  • Desert box turtle (Terrapene ornata luteola)
  • Sonoran desert tortoise  (Gopherus morafkai)
  • Tucson shovel-nosed snake (Chionactis occipitalis klauberi)
  • Northern Mexican gartersnake (Thamnophis eques megalops)
  • Giant spotted whiptail (Aspidoscelis stictogramma)
  • Groundsnake (valley form) (Sonora semiannulata)


  • San Xavier talussnail  (Sonorella eremita)
  • Black Mountain/Papago talussnail (Sonorella ambigua ambigua syn. papagorum)
  • Total Wreck talussnail (Sonorella imperatrix)
  • Empire Mountain talussnail (Sonorella imperialis)
  • Sonoran talussnail (Sonorella magdalensis syn. tumamocensis)
  • Santa Rita talussnail (Sonorella walkeri)
  • Pungent talussnail (Sonorella odorata odorata syn. marmoris)
  • Posta Quemada talussnail (Sonorella rinconensis)
  • Santa Catalina talussnail subspecies (Sonorella sabinoenis buehmanensis)
  • Santa Catalina talussnail subspecies (Sonorella sabinoensis tucsonica)
  • Las Guijas talussnail (Sonorella sitiens sitiens)
  • Tortolita talussnail (Sonorella tortillita)
Mitigation is a federal requirement.  It means offsetting impacts from activities covered under the permit. Thanks to voter-approved bonds for land conservation, Pima County has already banked over 70,000 acres of land to mitigate future impacts under the permit. Additional mitigation credit will come from Pima County’s ongoing stewardship of state grazing leases. The map below depicts the mitigation lands (green) in relation to the permit area (pink). For more information, see Benefits and Overview or Frequently Asked Questions or this Mitigation Lands report.
Mitigation Lands

What is ecological monitoring?

Monitoring is the repeated measurement of the same attribute over time to determine its status or trend. Monitoring allows us to periodically answer questions such as: “How many do we have?” and “Where are they located?” In recent decades ecological monitoring has grown in importance as policy makers and the general public demand more accurate information on the status and trends of a wide range of natural resources, from air quality to wildlife populations, from entire ecosystems to individual species.

Monitoring is a required element of the MSCP and will begin after Section 10 permit is finalized later in 2016.  The Pima County Office of Sustainability and Conservation, Conservation Science Division is tasked with developing and implementing the program.  To find out more about the County's program, visit the monitoring program website.

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