The federal Endangered Species Act and implementing regulations, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's "HCP Handbook" and guidance documents, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code all contain provisions concerning Habitat Conservation Plans.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibits "take" of federally threatened or endangered species, but provides a mechanism to obtain authorization for the take of listed species that may occur incidentally to otherwise lawful activities. Federal agencies, when issuing permits or taking other actions, must also comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Texas state law also governs how local governments may develop HCPs.