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