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Multi-species Conservation Plan

MSCP logoPima County’s Multi-species Conservation Plan (MSCP) has been approved by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Pima County Board of Supervisors!

The MSCP is the part of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan that addresses endangered species compliance. Pima County and Pima County Regional Flood Control have received a federal "Section 10" permit that streamlines endangered species compliance.

See below for a short, four minute video introducing Pima County's MSCP.

Read about the new

Certificate of Coverage Program, which will allow certain private development activities to receive coverage under Pima County's Section 10 permit.

Recent Reports:

2020 MSCP Annual Report

2020 MSCP Annual Report Appendices

Find all published MSCP reports, plans, and protocols HERE.

Additional Information:

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

Section 10 Permit Area

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

Section 10 Covered Activities

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.

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. (See the private lands coverage webpage for additional information):

Section 10 Mitigation Land

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.

Allocated Mitigation Land (March 2019)

As of March 2019, Pima County has allocated > 4000 acres to meet its mitigation obligations under the MSCP. No changes to the County's mitigation land portfolio have occurred since March 2019.

March 2019 Allocated Land

Flickr Photo Gallery of Mitigation Lands

Office of Sustainability and Conservation Gallery

MSCP Mitigation Lands Poster

Images of select mitigation lands overlaid onto map of eastern Pima County.

MSCP Mitigation Lands Poster

MSCP Covered Species

Pima County's MSCP provides permit coverage for 44 species that occur in Pima County. See links below for species information, monitoring protocols and reports, and external links for select covered species.







  • 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)

MSCP Annual Reports

Pima County submits an annual report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of its Section 10 permit compliance.  The annual report provides a detailed summary of impacts from Covered Activities and the associated allocation of mitigation lands.  Find all published MSCP reports, plans, and protocols HERE.


MSCP 2016 Annual Report


MSCP 2017 Annual Report

MSCP 2017 Annual Report Appendices


MSCP 2018 Annual Report

MSCP 2018 Annual Report Appendices


MSCP 2019 Annual Report

MSCP 2019 Annual Report Appendices

Management Plans

The MSCP obligates Pima County and RFCD to develop a site-specific management plan for any properties allocated for mitigation within two years of the date that they are allocated. These management plans address issues such as avoidance and minimization efforts to ensure protection, species and habitat needs, emerging threats, invasive species, ordinance enforcement activities, and anticipated future resource needs. If a property was acquired to provide habitat for a specific covered species or resource, the associated plan will directly address specific management actions planned to address the persistence of that species or resource. Management plans will be listed as most recent to oldest.

Cienega Corridor Management Plan (planned 2021)

The Cienega Corridor Management Plan addresses management for several County properties including the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve and Colossal Cave Mountain Park (excluding the commercial lease areas). This management plan covers 4140 acres of fee owned land and is expected to be completed in March 2021. Content associated with the development of the Cienega Corridor Management Plan will be posted to the link below.

Cienega Corridor Planning Webpage

Aquatic Species Management Plan (2019)

Preparation of an Aquatic Species Management Plan is a requirement of the Pima County MSCP. The primary goals of the Plan include maintaining existing populations of target aquatic species and their habitats, and identifying areas with potential habitat for future releases of those species.

Bingham Cienega Management Plan (2019)

The Bingham Cienega Management Plan was completed in January 2019, and addresses management of the Bingham Cienega Natural Preserve and several adjacent parcels on the County's M Diamond Ranch, totaling approximately 385 acres. These parcels are located along the San Pedro river in northeast Pima County.

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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