(a) The department may enter into an agreement with any person or public entity for the purpose of preparing a natural community conservation plan, in cooperation with a local agency that has land use permit authority over the activities proposed to be addressed in the plan, to provide comprehensive management and conservation of multiple wildlife species, including, but not limited to, those species listed pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 2070) of Chapter 1.5. The agreement shall include a provision specifying the amount of compensation, if any, payable to the department pursuant to Section 2829.
(b) The agreement shall meet all of the following conditions:
(1) The agreement shall be binding upon the department, other participating federal, state, and local agencies, and participating private landowners.
(2) The agreement shall define the geographic scope of the conservation planning area.
(3) The agreement shall identify a preliminary list of those natural communities, and the endangered, threatened, candidate, or other species known, or reasonably expected to be found, in those communities, that are intended to be the initial focus of the plan.
(4) The agreement shall identify preliminary conservation objectives for the planning area.
(5) The agreement shall establish a process for the inclusion of independent scientific input to assist the department and plan participants, and to do all of the following:
(A) Recommend scientifically sound conservation strategies for species and natural communities proposed to be covered by the plan.
(B) Recommend a set of reserve design principles that addresses the needs of species, landscapes, ecosystems, and ecological processes in the planning area proposed to be addressed by the plan.
(C) Recommend management principles and conservation goals that can be used in developing a framework for the monitoring and adaptive management component of the plan.
(D) Identify data gaps and uncertainties so that risk factors can be evaluated.
(6) The agreement shall require coordination with federal wildlife agencies with respect to the federal Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. Sec. 1531 et seq.).
(7) The agreement shall encourage concurrent planning for wetlands and waters of the United States.
(8) The agreement shall establish an interim process during plan development for project review wherein discretionary projects within the plan area subject to Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code that potentially conflict with the preliminary conservation objectives in the planning agreement are reviewed by the department prior to, or as soon as possible after the project application is deemed complete pursuant to Section 65943 of the Government Code and the department recommends mitigation measures or project alternatives that would help achieve the preliminary conservation objectives. As part of this process, information developed pursuant to paragraph (5) of subdivision (b) of Section 2810 shall be taken into consideration by the department and plan participants. Any take of candidate, threatened, or endangered species that occurs during this interim period shall be included in the analysis of take to be authorized under an approved plan. Nothing in this paragraph is intended to authorize take of candidate, protected, or endangered species.
(9) The agreement shall establish a process for public participation throughout the plan development and review pursuant to Section 2815.
(c) The approval of the planning agreement is not a project pursuant to Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code.
(d) Prior to department approval of the planning agreement, the public shall have 21 calendar days to review and comment on the proposed planning agreement.