Bastrop County’s Lost Pines Habitat Conservation Plan (LPHCP) provides grants to private landowners for habitat enhancement projects. The grants are made possible by mitigation fees collected for residential and commercial construction within the plan area. Grants are based on a reimbursement cost-share program, with a minimum 50% landowner match.
Criteria for projects eligible to receive available funding include:
- The project must provide an overall net benefit to the Houston toad;
- The project cannot be part of any required mitigation for incidental take authorized by another habitat conservation plan or other natural resources restitution activity;
- The landowner must be a part of a conservation or management agreement with the LPHCP or other sponsoring agency or organization to ensure that the project is maintained or continued for ten years after completion of the project;
- The project must include measures that result in the creation, conservation, or enhancement of Houston toad habitat; and
- The landowner must allow LPHCP-contracted biologists and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel to access the project area and monitor Houston toad populations throughout the life of the agreement.
Specific conservation actions that may be funded include, but aren’t limited to:
- Brush and understory thinning to enhance the establishment of a native herbaceous layer.
- Grassland restoration through reestablishment and planting of native grasses and forbs.
- Activities which support or facilitate future prescribed fires, such as the establishment of firebreaks, removal of excess duff or woody fuel, or other activities which alleviate the potential for future wildfires.
- Restoration of loblolly pines and other native trees to re-establish canopy cover, species composition, and structure that characterizes high quality Houston toad habitat.
- Treatment of red imported fire ants where and when appropriate.
- Fencing to restrict and manage livestock access to potential breeding ponds.
Since 2009, the LPHCP has assisted landowners in the implementation of habitat improvements on over 500 acres throughout the plan area. Past projects have included:
- Reforestation of loblolly pines and oaks after the Wilderness Ridge Wildfire, and reforestation of land that had been converted to pasture for agricultural use
- Mechanical understory thinning to reduce the density of yaupon and eastern red cedar and encourage the growth of native grasses and forbs
- Installation of firebreaks in preparation for prescribed burns
How to Apply
The application process begins with a call, letter or email to the LPHCP Administrator with a general description of the proposed project. The description should include the habitat improvements proposed (e.g., reforestation, understory thinning), the acreage to be affected by the project, and, if possible, a rough estimate of the overall project cost.
Proposals are evaluated based on their location to known Houston toad populations and their ability to provide a benefit to the toad. If these considerations are generally equal among proposals, then priority is directed to those projects that link private lands to important large tracts, such as the Griffith League Ranch and Bastrop State Park, have multiple partners and the greatest cost-effectiveness.