Accelerated Permitting for Restoration Projects

Sustainable Conservation worked with Assemblyman Rich Gordon to sponsor the Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Act. The law establishes a simplified permitting process with the Department of Fish & Wildlife for landowners, state and local government agencies, and conservation organizations wanting to implement small-scale, voluntary habitat restoration projects across California.

 


Before – The first HRE Act project by South Coast Habitat Restoration successfully removed the final major barrier to steelhead trout migration on Carpinteria Creek, Santa Barbara County. Learn more. © South Coast Habitat Restoration


After – The new vehicular bridge allow landowners on a working agricultural ranch to safely access their property and for steelhead trout to swim upstream to historic spawning grounds. © South Coast Habitat Restoration


The first Coho HELP Act project by Trout Unlimited and partners in the Garcia River puts logs back into the streams to enhance rearing conditions. Learn more. © Trout Unlimited

Permitting Roadblocks to Restoration

Extensive permit requirements for restoration projects can serve as a disincentive. Multiple federal and state permits or authorizations, as well as local county or municipal permits and coastal zone development permits are needed for even small habitat restoration projects. The sheer number of permits, plus the ballooning costs to fulfill the permit requirements and permit fees, can stymie restoration efforts. 

Developing Solutions

A number of groups have been working to develop solutions to simplify the process of acquiring permits or authorizations.

Simplified Statewide Permits

Many state and federal agencies have developed simplified approaches for permitting restoration projects. These "programmatic" permits apply to a variety of restoration projects saves significant time and money for both the applicant and agency staff, without sacrificing environmental protections.

For example, Sustainable Conservation works with state and federal agencies to develop simplified approaches for permitting voluntary restoration projects. See their list of expedited/simplified programmatic permits and approvals currently available from state and federal agencies for habitat restoration projects. Additional information on programmatic permits described in identified the Wood for Salmon Working Group’s Guidance Document on Permitting Wood Restoration Projects in Central and Northern Coastal California.

Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Act of 2014

The Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Act of 2014 (AB2193) established a simplified permitting process with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for landowners, state and local government agencies, and conservation organizations wanting to implement small-scale, voluntary habitat restoration projects across California. Restoration and Enhancement projects approved by CDFW, pursuant to the Act, will not require additional permits from CDFW, such as a Lake or Streambed Alteration agreement or California Endangered Species Act permit. Additionally, CDFW will approve complete applications within 30-days or 60-days depending on the type of request submitted (i.e., Fish & G. Code, §§ 1652 or 1653). 

More information is available at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's webpage on the Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Act and Sustainable Conservation's HRE webpage. Sustainable Conservation's Application Guide is available here

Coho HELP Act of 2012

The Coho Salmon Habitat Enhancement Leading to Preservation Act, or Coho HELP Act, streamlines permitting from California Department of Fish and Wildlife for coho salmon habitat enhancement projects in coastal northern California. Projects are limited to removal of road crossings and culverts impeding fish passage, streambank erosion and revegetation, and instream wood placement. More information is available at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's webpage on the Coho HELP Act.

Wood for Salmon Working Group

The Wood for Salmon Working Group to identify potential mechanisms to simplify permitting processes and incentivize implementation of more large wood augmentation projects. The group developed a Guidance Document on Permitting Wood Restoration Projects in Central and Northern Coastal California and other tools and resources.

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