California Endangered Species Act (CESA) Permits

large-flowered fiddleneck plant

State and Federally Endangered Large-Flowered Fiddleneck (Amsinckia grandiflora)

California tiger salamander adult

State and Federally Threatened California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense)

Tricolored black bird

State Threatened Tricolored Blackbird (Agelaius tricolor)

Swainson's Hawk

State Threatened Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)

Blennosperma nanum

State Rare Point Reyes Blennosperma (Blennosperma nanum var. robustum)

Giant Garter Snake

State and Federally Threatened Giant Garter Snake (Thamnophis gigas)

The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) states that all native species of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, invertebrates, and plants, and their habitats, threatened with extinction and those experiencing a significant decline which, if not halted, would lead to a threatened or endangered designation, will be protected or preserved. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will work with all interested persons, agencies and organizations to protect and preserve such sensitive resources and their habitats.

CESA prohibits the take of any species of wildlife designated by the California Fish and Game Commission as endangered, threatened, or candidate species. CDFW may authorize the take of any such species if certain conditions are met.

Pursuant to SB 473 (Hertzberg, Ch. 329, Stats. 2018; Fish & G. Code § 2081 (e)), commencing January 1, 2019, CDFW is required to post each new incidental take permit issued on CDFW's Internet Web site. The public can view the posted documents in the Document Library.

Electronic copies (i.e., PDF) of completed CESA applications can now be submitted to the CDFW's EPIMS Document Repository Portal. For more information visit the EPIMS web page.

Document Repository Portal

Types of Permits

Incidental Take Permits (ITP) - 2081 (b)

Section 2081 subdivision (b) of the Fish and Game Code allows CDFW to authorize take of species listed as endangered, threatened, or candidate pursuant to the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), and Title 14, Section 786.9 of the California Code of Regulations similarly allows CDFW to authorize take of plants listed as rare pursuant to the Native Plant Protection Act (NPPA), if that take is incidental to otherwise lawful activities and if certain conditions are met. These authorizations are commonly referred to as incidental take permits (ITPs).

Consistency Determination (CD) - 2080.1

If a species is listed as endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and listed as endangered, threatened, or candidate under CESA, Fish and Game Code section 2080.1 allows an applicant who has obtained a federal incidental take statement (federal Section 7 consultation) or a federal incidental take permit (federal Section 10(a)(1)(B)) to request that the Director of CDFW find the federally authorized take consistent with CESA. If CDFW finds the federal take authorization consistent with CESA and issues a consistency determination (CD), no further authorization or approval is necessary under CESA.

Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) - 2089.2-2089.26

A Safe Harbor Agreement (SHA) authorizes incidental take of a species listed as endangered, threatened, or candidate pursuant to CESA, rare plant under the NPPA, and/or declining or vulnerable species if implementation of the agreement is reasonably expected to provide a net conservation benefit to the species, among other provisions. SHAs are intended to encourage landowners to voluntarily manage their lands to benefit species in need of conservation. California SHAs are analogous to the federal safe harbor agreement program and CDFW has the authority to issue a consistency determination based on a federal safe harbor agreement or a federal candidate conservation agreement with assurances.

Voluntary Local Programs (VLP) - 2086-2089

A Voluntary Local Program (VLP) is a locally designed program that encourages farmers and ranchers to voluntarily enhance and maintain habitat for endangered, threatened, and candidate species and wildlife generally in ways compatible with agricultural activities. Upon CDFW authorization of a VLP, take of covered candidate, threatened, or endangered species not part of Class Osteichthyes incidental to routine and ongoing agricultural activities described in the VLP is not prohibited by CESA, provided that the take occurs while implementing the management practices specified in the VLP.

VLPs are a unique permitting option because while they are authorized by CDFW, VLPs are administered by a local organization, such as a Conservation District or agricultural organization.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – 2081 (a)

MOUs authorize individuals, public agencies, universities, zoological gardens, and scientific or educational institutions to import, export, take, or possess endangered, threatened, or candidate species for scientific, educational, or management purposes.

Wildlife Branch MOUs

Voucher Collection Permits for Threatened and Endangered Plant Species

Voucher collection permits are required to collect rare, threatened, and endangered plant species for identification purposes during field surveys, or to collect voucher specimens to document a newly-discovered or previously unvouchered occurrence of a listed plant.

Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP)

An NCCP identifies and provides for the regional protection of plants, animals, including CESA listed species, and their habitats, while allowing compatible and appropriate economic activity.

Lake or Streambed Alteration (LSA) Agreement

Fish and Game Code section 1602 requires any entity to notify CDFW before beginning any activity that may substantially divert or obstruct the natural flow of, or substantially change or use any material from the bed, channel, or bank of any river, stream, or lake. If CDFW determines that the activity may substantially adversely affect fish and wildlife resources, a Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement will be prepared.

Scientific Collection Permit (SCP)

SCPs are required to take, collect, capture, mark, or salvage, non-CESA listed species for scientific, educational, and non-commercial propagation purposes.

CESA Fees

screenshot of fee table
Open 2023 Fee Schedule

CESA Permit application fees are not applicable to the following

  • Permits necessary to conduct timber operations, as defined in section 4527 of the Public Resources Code;
  • Permits or memoranda of understanding for scientific, educational, or management purposes, authorized by subdivision (a) of section 2081 of Fish and Game Code; and
  • Permits for voluntary habitat restoration projects (e.g., safe harbor agreements)

CESA application fees can now be paid by credit card through CDFW's Online License Sales and Services.