Under the federal Habitat Conservation Planning program, the government paid builders to set aside undeveloped land while allowing them to develop portions where development was deemed risk-free to the habitat. Land nationwide remains eligible for the program.
But on Sept. 30, a federal district court in Washington effectively placed a moratorium on new applications. The eco-activist group Spirit of the Sage Council sued and won a court decision against a "no surprises" policy linked to the permitting process. "No surprises," simply put, protects landowners from liability. For instance, the government couldn't rescind terms of a completed HCP deal unless the deal threatened an entire species for some unforeseen reason.
HCP applications already received will continue being processed.