A 15-year permit to fast-track development while protecting endangered species was renewed by Austin and Travis County officials in September.

What’s happening?

Known as the Balcones Canyonland Preservation Plan, the permit extends to the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, a roughly 32,000-acre network of protected land throughout West and Northwest Austin. The plan was created in 1996 in response to several species being listed as endangered due to development-driven habitat loss in Austin.

Initially set to expire in 2026, the permit requires Austin and Travis County to offset habitat loss in the area by purchasing and preserving wildlands where the endangered species can live. In exchange, local developments undergo expedited permitting processes, which would otherwise take several years.

Since 1996, the BCCP has resulted in:
  • 1,200 applications from private landowners for BCCP permits
  • 300 public infrastructure projects built with these permits
  • Over 17,000 acres of protected wildlife habitat acquired to offset these projects
What’s next?

The BCCP permitting process is a faster alternative to federal permitting for those wishing to build in western Travis County areas inhabited by endangered species, said Erik Luna, Austin Water senior public information officer, in an email.

“This streamlined option offers more certainty in project cost and timing and provides local conservation authorities and developers with a more open and transparent avenue for addressing and negotiating priorities for both local development and conservation and habitat protection,” Luna said.

After the extension process is complete, the city and county will be issued an updated permit with the new expiration date. In addition to extending the permit, updates were made to the interlocal agreement between the city and county to meet modern industry standards, Luna said.