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Safe Harbor Information & How To Sign Up

What is the Safe Harbor Agreement? 

California tiger salamander habitat has declined in recent years due to a number of factors, including habitat destruction and degradation from urban development, inadequate regulatory mechanisms, disease and pesticide drift across the Santa Rosa Plain and ongoing climate change. Because of these threats, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Sonoma population of California tiger salamander as endangered in 2003.

How does the CTS Safe Harbor Program Work?

The Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement for Viticultural Activities on Existing Vineyards in the Santa Rosa Plain for the Sonoma County Population of California Tiger Salamander (the “Agreement”) was signed on May 28, 2022, between the North Bay Water District (the “District”) and the USFWS.

Under the Safe Harbor regulations (50 C.F.R. sect. 17.22), USFWS will permit the incidental take of an endangered species after finding that the Safe Harbor Agreement complies with issuance criteria under 10(a)(1)(A) of the Endangered Species Act.

The Agreement allows USFWS to issue the District a programmatic Section 10(a)(1)(A) permit and for the District to extend permit coverage to individual cooperators.

What is needed to get started?

Each landowner must complete a Baseline Habitat Worksheet and it must be completed prior to signing the Cooperative Agreement. The Baseline will be determined by a Service-approved Qualified Biologist such as Dr. Ted Winfield. 

USFWS must review and concur in writing with the Baseline determination before approval of the Cooperative Agreement. 

How does the Cooperative Agreement work?

The District will enter into a Cooperative Agreement with the landowner (the “Cooperator”) upon receipt of Baseline Habitat Worksheet and approval of the Baseline by USFWS.

Who is eligible for the Safe Harbor?

1. The District will enter into a Cooperative Agreement with the landowner (the “Cooperator”) upon receipt of Baseline Habitat Worksheet and approval of the Baseline by USFWS. 

2. Landowners who are adjacent to a participant in the Safe Harbor Program.

What is the landowner's responsibility? 

Landowners that enroll in the SHA agree to follow agricultural best management practices (BMP’s) while carrying out ongoing vineyard management activities and prior to replanting existing vineyards.

Most of you are carrying out the majority of these activities now as many of these BMP’s are part of the CCSW and VESCO permitting programs.

The landowner must provide a brief annual report to the Program Manager, due on January 31st of each year.

Each participating winegrower commits to a 10-year period for enrollment in the program, after which time they can re-enroll for another 10 years.

What's the cost to participate? 

Biologist fee for Map and Baseline Habitat Worksheet (estimated $300-500)

Year One:  

$375 One-Time Enrollment Fee

  $375 Annual Fee

  $750 Total

Years Two through Ten: $375 Annual Fee

How do I sign up?

Contact Robin Bartholow at the Sonoma County Farm Bureau at to get started.