Board of Directors Agenda
1. Call to Order of the Regular Meeting of the Board of Directors
The Board Chair will call the meeting to order if a quorum is present. Announcements by the Board Chair or Executive Director may be made at this time. Board members may make announcements at this time as well.
2. Public Comments
Opportunity for members of the public to address the Conservancy’s Board of Directors.
3. Approval of the minutes
The Board Chair will request approval of the minutes of the Board of Directors meeting of June 1, 2016.
4. Biological effectiveness monitoring program (“BEMP”) Program Document revision suspension
Because the recently-released proposed revised USFWS/NMFS “HCP Handbook” de-emphasizes covered species population tracking and emphasizes directed research at management action, Conservancy staff is concerned about spending more money recommending a revised BEMP Program Document to the Board and NBHCP TAC that may run contrary to this new direction.
Background. Based on discussions with the Conservancy’s biological monitoring contractor and other biologists, this item contains a staff recommendation that the Conservancy step back and assess what the impact of the revised HCP Handbook will be on the Conservancy’s biological monitoring efforts. Since the biological monitoring compliance effort is one of the Conservancy’s largest line item expenses, it seems prudent to fully understand the new direction of federal guidance on biological monitoring. Otherwise, the Conservancy risks spending substantial sums of money that could be lost and/or wasted in a research/monitoring direction not endorsed or supported by the Wildlife Agencies.
Action taken. By Executive Director order, the biological monitoring consultant was requested to immediately discontinue work on the BEMP “Program Document.” (In it action of June 3, 2015, resolution #15.06.04, the Board authorized ICF International to complete a revision to the NBHCP’s “BEMP Program Document.” This document is meant to describe how annual biological effectiveness monitoring will be conducted so that it is in compliance with the NBHCP. The Board’s resolution authorized the proposal to prepare a revision to the BEMP Program Document so that when the Board released the annual biological monitoring contract for the coming years, it would be able to encourage firms to bid on the work based on a fresh and updated set of guidelines, as required in the BEMP Program Document.)
Specific steps. More specifically, the Executive Director’s instruction to ICF International was as follows:
1.) put a “hold” on all work on the one-year contract being worked on that revises the BEMP Program Document,
2.) be available to help explain to the Board of Directors at its Wednesday, August 3, 2016 Board meeting that we will not be recommending a revised BEMP Program Document to the Board for its acceptance (and then obtain NBHCP TAC approval for), and
3.) that means the Board will not be able to approve a new and revised RFP to solicit proposals from biological monitoring contractors for the Conservancy’s typical five-year contract period, because that RFP was going to be based on revisions ICF International and Conservancy staff had anticipated could lead to reduced biological monitoring costs and improved results, and
4.) help determine what, if any, impact the proposed revised HCP Planning Handbook will have on the Conservancy’s implementation of the NBHCP and MAPHCP with their prescriptions for biological monitoring, and
5.) based on those discussions, return to the Conservancy’s Board of Directors with recommendations on what this means for future biological monitoring, and do so hopefully by late this year or at the latest, early next year, and
6.) in the meantime, we request that the Board of Directors approve an amended biological monitoring agreement between ICF International and the Conservancy so that it is extended by one additional year in order make certain the Conservancy is in compliance for 2017, and,
7.) target late spring/early summer next year to have a final recommendation to the Board as to steps, if any, the Conservancy should take in order to comply the new HCP Handbook, and finally,
8.) this will require that ICF International re-start the work on the BEMP Program Document once we have completed steps #1 through #6 above.
This item requests that the Board of Directors authorize the action steps noted above in order to practically address the proposed changes to the federal government’s proposed revision to the HCP Handbook.”
5. Biological Effectiveness Monitoring Contact Amendment for 2017
Based upon the action item above, the Board is requested to authorize the Conservancy’s Executive Director to execute and deliver an extension to the biological monitoring contract between the Conservancy and ICF International such that the same terms, conditions and annual costs for the five-year base contract are extended to cover biological monitoring for 2017.
6. Financial statement review
A financial statement will be provided for the period ended June 30, 2016 (unaudited). Additional financial information will be provided.
7. Statistical Packet
Conservancy staff will present to the Board of Directors a set of metrics used by staff to track Conservancy conditions. The metrics mostly apply to financial and economic issues.
8. Recalculation and adjustment to the surplus acres reserve
Because of land exchanges and other factors, the Conservancy has carried more acres than are necessary to satisfy the requirements of the NBHCP and MAPHCP. The cushion that is provided by maintaining this reserve has afforded the Conservancy opportunities to manage its implementation of the HCPs in more strategic ways.
Internal practices examination and “surplus” acreage accounting. Each year, the Conservancy engages in examining a complicated or substantial aspect of its business and accounting, making sure policies, procedures, implementation and reporting are accurate. This year, the Conservancy detailed its accounting of these surplus acres. As the use of the acres has continued, the reserve has been reduced, so it seemed especially important to take the opportunity to confirm the accounting of this aspect of Conservancy operations. (Carrying too few surplus acres risks reducing flexibility and opportunities that may surface. Carrying too much burdens the Conservancy financially while affording no HCP compliance benefits, and could cause upward pressure on the HCP fees.)
Examination unearths counting error and need for adjustment. This exercise resulted in a finding that there was a need to adjust the surplus acre total downward. To confirm this, the Conservancy engaged the services of a consulting economist familiar with Conservancy land tally practices and conformance with the HCPs. The economist confirmed and expanded on the Conservancy’s internal examination.
Conclusion. The result is that instead of carrying 277.36 surplus acres, Conservancy staff now has a high degree of conviction that the proper number is 131.06 acres. As a result, Conservancy staff will amend the surplus land tally and land allocation accounting exhibits it reports to the federal and state Wildlife Agencies (via its Implementation Annual Reports) as a result of this internal examination. Staff will detail this project with the Board.
9. Examination of groundwater well restoration
Given the outlook for water delivery associated with California’s extended drought, the Conservancy has embarked on a program to examine unused groundwater wells on its property. Staff will review the effort with the Board, with a focus on the BKS tract wells.
10. Executive Director’s Report
Various matters for Board members’ general information will be presented by the Conservancy’s Executive Director.
11. Executive Session
Executive Session for real estate is scheduled.
Official adjournment of the meeting.