Multi-species Conservation Plan

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.

Pima 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.

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


See below for a short, four minute video introducing Pima County's Multi-species Conservation Plan.

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 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

MSCP Covered Species

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 yerbabuenae)
  • 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)

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.

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 (Click on image to open in a new window):

MSCP Mitigation Lands Poster

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.  This document satisfies required status reporting for the continuation of Pima County's permit.  The annual report provides a detailed summary of impacts from Covered Activities and the associated allocation of mitigation lands.  Additionally, the report provides updates on the implementation of Pima County's MSCP, including monitoring and adaptive management results, financial responsibilities, and any changes in the permit area due to annexations by other entities or land acquisitions.  Pima County's annual reports and associated documents may be accessed below:

MSCP 2016 Annual Report
MSCP 2017 Annual Report
MSCP 2017 Annual Report Appendices

Other Reports

Mapping and Monitoring Unsupplemented Water on Pima County Conservation Lands.  2018.  Surface water is a rare and limiting resource in desert environments. For animals in the Sonoran desert, surface water during the dry foresummer season is particularly important because of the increased demand for water at that time and because the extent of surface water is at its minimum. This report summarizes seven years of surveys to map the location of all naturally occurring (i.e., unsupplemented) surface water (stock tanks and dams, springs, and streams) throughout Pima County’s extensive system of conservation 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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