Department of Fish and Wildlife

The California Office of Spill Prevention and Response (“OSPR”), within the Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been tasked with new responsibilities related to oil spill response.  Assembly Bill 1197 (“AB 1197”), which was signed into law in October 2017 and goes into effect on January 1, 2018, authorizes spill management teams (“SMTs”) to apply to the OSPR Administrator (“Administrator”) for a certification of that SMT’s response capabilities.  AB 1197 also authorizes the Administrator to charge a reasonable administrative fee to process an application for, or renewal of, a certification.  In addition, OSPR must promulgate regulations outlining the certification process for SMTs.
Continue Reading Ready or Not? Now’s the Time to Get Your Oil Spill Management Team OSPR Certification

Last summer, the Third District Court of Appeal issued a sweeping ruling in Siskiyou County Farm Bureau v. Department of Fish and Wildlife, which made any substantial diversions of water subject to the streambed alteration agreement provisions of the California Fish and Game Code (“CDFW”).  The court ruled that California Fish and Game Code

In Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife, No. B245141 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Mar. 20, 2014), the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision, which found that the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (“Department”) certification of an environmental impact statement and report (“EIR”) was “not supported by substantial evidence.”  In a sprawling 117-page, published Opinion, the appellate court rejected the notion that a 5,828-page, project level EIR, which did not approve any specific construction, was insufficient.

We focus only on the Department’s challenged certification of the EIR, which studied a resource management plan, conservation plan, and streambed alteration agreement, as well as the issuance of incidental take permits under California’s Endangered Species Act (“CESA”).  The underlying Newhall Ranch project, a specific plan approval in Los Angeles County, would allow residential, mixed-use, and non-residential land uses and provide up to 21,308 dwelling units, essentially building a new city.  The trial court found, among other things, that the Department “failed to conduct an independent review of project impacts,” that many of its findings were not supported by substantial evidence, and that it failed to prevent the taking of the Unarmored Threespine Stickleback (“stickleback”), a fully protected fish under CESA.Continue Reading Court Clarifies “Taking” Of Endangered Species And Highlights What’s “Enough” Under CEQA