California Department of Fish and Wildlife

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

How CEQA applies to CDFW programs and jurisdictions

Any public agency (state or local) may be a CEQA lead agency or have CEQA obligations. The best resources for general CEQA information, regardless of lead agency, are the Office of Planning and Research, the Natural Resources Agency and your local county planner’s office.

CEQA applies to all discretionary projects proposed to be conducted or approved by a California public agency, including private projects requiring discretionary government approval. CEQA helps to guide CDFW during issuance of permits and approval of projects.

The purpose of CEQA is to:

  • Disclose to the public the significant environmental effects of a proposed discretionary project, through the preparation of an Initial Study (IS), Negative Declaration (ND), or Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
  • Prevent or minimize damage to the environment through development of project alternatives, mitigation measures, and mitigation monitoring.
  • Disclose to the public the agency decision-making process utilized to approve discretionary projects through findings and statements of overriding consideration.
  • Enhance public participation in the environmental review process through scoping meetings, public notice, public review, hearings, and the judicial process.
  • Improve interagency coordination through early consultations, scoping meetings, notices of preparation, and State Clearinghouse review.

The complete CEQA Statute and Guidelines (PDF) (California Public Resources Code, Sections 21000 - 21178, and Title 14 CCR, Section 753, and Chapter 3, Sections 15000 - 15387) is available from the Natural Resources Agency.

CDFW’s CEQA review and compliance generally occurs at the regional office that serves the county where the project would take place. When a project spans multiple Regions, or would have statewide impacts, the Habitat Conservation Planning Branch (HCPB), in Sacramento, coordinates CDFW’s CEQA review and compliance. HCPB also administers the CEQA filing fee program. Other branches of CDFW may be responsible for CEQA review and compliance when a project implements or substantially affects a Branch program.

CDFW imposes and collects a filing fee to defray the costs of managing and protecting California’s vast fish and wildlife resources, including, but not limited to, consulting with other public agencies, reviewing environmental documents, recommending mitigation measures, and developing monitoring programs (FGC 711.4). The filing fee will be waived, however, if CDFW determines the project will have no effect on fish and wildlife and issues a “No Effect Determination.”