Presentation on theme: "CEQA and Fuels Treatments California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Allen S. Robertson Environmental Protection - Sacramento."— Presentation transcript:
CEQA and Fuels Treatments California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Allen S. Robertson Environmental Protection - Sacramento
Objectives: ► When does CEQA apply? ► Who is the “lead agency? ► What CEQA documents are required? ► What analysis is necessary? ► What is the process/timeline? ► How does CEQA relate to NEPA? ► What about other environmental laws? CEQA and Fuels Treatments
CEQA Authority California Environmental Quality Act Public Resources Code Division 13. Environmental Quality §§ – CEQA Guidelines California Code of Regulations Title 14, Chapter 3 §§
CEQA Applies to: “Projects” According to CEQA a Project is: ► a discretionary action by a public agency which has the potential to result in a physical change in the environment, either directly, or indirectly.
CEQA Applies to: Public Agencies Yes ► State Agencies ► Counties/Cities ► CA Universities ► Special Districts RCD Cemetery Irrigation LAFCO No ► Federal Agencies ► Other States ► Corporations ► Non-profit groups ► Pvt. Organizations ► Pvt. Land Owners ► Fire Safe Councils Fire Safe Councils are not Public Agencies and have no CEQA responsibilities
CEQA Applies to “Discretionary Actions” Discretionary Action - requires the exercise of judgment or deliberation in approving the project. Includes Public Agencies: ► Carrying out a project themselves ► Funding a project carried out by others ► Issuing a permit to others for a project ► Facilitating or assisting in a project FSC projects are subject to CEQA where state or local governments are funding, permitting or assisting
Permit ► THPs ► DFG 1600 Fund ► Grants ► VMP/CFIP Carry out ► Construction ► Forest Research Facilitate ► Hand Crews ► Equipment Discretionary Action Examples
CEQA Applies to: Physical Changes in the Environment Physical Changes in the Environment include: ► Cutting trees, brush, limbs ► Using heavy equipment off-road ► Creating dust, smoke or noise ► Exposing mineral soil ► Disturbing species or reducing habitat ► Changing aesthetics There may be direct or indirect changes. State grants to FSCs that do not result in physical changes are not projects subject to CEQA.
In Summary If the activity : ► Involves a discretionary action, ► By a public agency, ► And may lead to physical changes in the environment, ► Either directly or indirectly… Then it is a “project” subject to CEQA. Generally, a public agency will recognize its lead agency role and make these determinations; however, on occasion an agency may not be aware that no other agency has filled the role.
Lead Agency The Public Agency making the first, or primary, discretionary decision on a project is Lead Agency In the case of a FSC project, generally: ► The grantor in approving grant funds ► The permitter in issuing a permit, or ► The facilitator in rendering assistance in some way. A Responsible Agency makes secondary project approvals or permits and relies upon environmental analysis of the lead agency. A Trustee Agency is an agency with jurisdiction over natural resources held in trust.
Lead Agency The lead agency is responsible for: Determining appropriate CEQA document and level of analysis ► Consulting with other agencies and public ► Ensuring that all project impacts are identified and mitigated ► Completing CEQA process and filing documents The lead agency may require grant recipient assistance in completing these tasks.
CEQA Documents The lead agency will determine what CEQA document is necessary, depending on: ► Results of surveys/studies ► Project magnitude/timing/location ► Unique or unusual circumstances ► Input from other agencies/professionals ► Applicable exemption classes ► Type and ability to mitigate impacts
CEQA Documents Categorical Exemption ► Hand treatments, pile burning, Negative Declaration (Mitigated) ► Mechanical treatments, broadcast burning Environmental Impact Report (EIR) ► No EIRs for fuels projects to-date Programmatic EIR ► Rely on existing program documents (VMP/CFIP)
Categorical Exemptions ► Used where the project generally “fits” the exemption description ► Requires “limited analysis and restrictions” to ensure that impacts don’t occur ► Various “exceptions” to the use of an exemption may apply The exemptions don’t need to be applied literally, nor are they to be applied too liberally; the lead agency must be reasonable in their application.
“Limited Analysis and Restrictions” “Restrictions” on operations to support an Exemption include: ► No broadcast burning - piles O.K. ► No heavy equipment off road - except existing fire breaks ► Avoidance of wetlands, watercourses, vernal pools ► No “commercial” tree removals – no THP/THP Exemption ► Minimize noise, dust, aesthetic effects to neighbors through restricted days/hours of operation and buffers “Limited analysis” to support an Exemption includes: ► Archaeological Records Check and survey and/or sign-off by CAL FIRE archaeologist, Section 106 if Federal funds ► CNDDB check with survey of, or avoidance of, identified sensitive habitats ► Informal consultation with agencies were necessary
Categorical Exemptions Exemption examples include: Class 1 – Existing Facilities ► Maintenance/grading of existing fuel breaks Class 4 - Minor Alterations to Land or Vegetation ► Fuel management within 100 feet of structures ► Chipper programs ► Fire Safe Demonstrations ► Community Shaded Fuel Breaks Class 7 and 8 – Actions to Protect Resources or Environment ► Extensive shaded fuel breaks along roads/ridges ► Piling and burning Per CAL FIRE policy, work may not proceed until the Exemption is filed at the State Clearinghouse
Negative Declaration Completion of Initial Study/CEQA Checklist ► Archaeological Records Check and survey and/or sign-off by CAL FIRE archaeologist, Section 106 if Federal funds ► CNDDB check with survey of, or avoidance of, identified sensitive habitats ► Informal consultation with agencies were necessary ► Consideration of impacts to: aesthetics, air quality, noise, soils, water quality, etc. All impacts must be less than significant (after mitigation) to qualify for a negative declaration
Negative Declaration Additional Steps: ► Approval of draft Neg Dec by CAL FIRE ► Filing of draft document at State Clearinghouse ► Formal consultation with public agencies ► 30 day public/agency comment period ► Public noticing ► Consideration of all comments received ► Adoption of final Neg Dec by CAL FIRE ► File a Notice of Determination (NOD) Work may not proceed until the NOD is filed at the State Clearinghouse
Programmatic EIR Some FSC projects may “fit” one of more of CAL FIRE’s programs where much of the environmental analysis is already completed: ► Vegetation Management Program (VMP) ► California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP) Eligible projects may only need completion of a Program Checklist, limited site specific analysis and informal consultation with responsible and trustee agencies.
Budgeting Grant Recipients may be called upon to: ► Prepare CEQA Checklists ► Provide NDDB/Information Center searches ► Conduct surveys ► Assemble draft documents, etc. So, be sure to budget for hiring RPFs or other consultants and pay for studies.
CEQA v. NEPA ► NEPA is the federal “equivalent” to CEQA ► NEPA is triggered by federal “actions” ► No NEPA where grants are passed through California FSC, however there may still be a need to consult with other federal agencies ► Joint CEQA/NEPA documents may be prepared ► Or, separate documents relying on same supporting analysis
Other Environmental Laws In the preparation of CEQA documents for FSC projects, CAL FIRE will ensure that all other environmental laws are considered: ► State/Federal Endangered Species Acts ► Migratory Bird Treaty Act ► Air District Burn Permits ► USACOE (Corps) 404 permits ► Stream Bed Alteration Agreements 1600 ► Section 106 NHPA Where neither CEQA nor NEPA apply the grantee is still responsible for compliance with all state and federal laws.