California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Review

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The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) serves to:

  • Disclose to the public the significant environmental effects of a proposed discretionary project, through the preparation of an initial study, negative declaration, mitigated negative declaration, or environmental impact report.
  • 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.

State and local public agencies must comply with CEQA before making a discretionary approval of a project. Compliance can be met by determining a project is exempt from CEQA or preparing an environmental analysis, typically a negative declaration (ND), mitigated negative declaration (MND) or environmental impact report (EIR). MNDs and EIRs identify and contain an analysis of a project's significant environmental effects and discuss feasible measures to avoid or mitigate those effects. EIRs also analyze a reasonable range of potentially feasible alternatives to the proposed project that would avoid or substantially lessen the project's significant effects. Compliance with other environmental laws and regulations is also typically discussed in an MND or EIR.

CDFW is California's Trustee Agency for the State’s fish, wildlife, and plant resources. CDFW, in its trustee capacity, has jurisdiction over the conservation, protection, and management of fish, wildlife, native plants, and habitats necessary for biologically sustainable populations of those species. For the purposes of CEQA, CDFW is charged by law to provide, as available, biological expertise during public agency environmental review efforts, focusing specifically on projects and related activities that have the potential to adversely affect fish and wildlife resources.

NOTE: CDFW staff cannot make decisions or intercede on CEQA projects under the jurisdiction of another lead agency(opens in new tab). Please direct project-specific comments or questions to the project's CEQA lead agency. For more general information on CEQA, please visit the California Natural Resources Agency(opens in new tab) or the Office of Planning and Research(opens in new tab) pages.

CDFW Roles in CEQA

CDFW can assume any of the three agency roles in the CEQA process depending on a variety of factors.

CDFW assumes the… When…
Lead Agency role It proposes projects on its own property (work in CDFW wildlife areas, fish hatcheries etc.) or when it is the only agency issuing a permit or approval for a project, as is sometimes the case with Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreements or a California Endangered Species Act Incidental Take Permits.
Responsible Agency role It has some level of responsibility for carrying out or approving a project for which a lead agency is preparing or has prepared an environmental document. Most frequently occurs when a project requires a Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreement or a California Endangered Species Act Incidental Take Permit.
Trustee Agency role A trustee agency is a public agency that has jurisdiction by law over natural resources affected by a project which are held in trust for the people of the State of California. CDFW is always a trustee agency with regard to the fish and wildlife of the state, to designated rare or endangered native plants, and to game refuges, ecological reserves, and other areas administered by CDFW.

Environmental Document Filing Fees

CDFW imposes and collects an environmental document 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 (Fish & G. Code, § 711.4). If it is found that a project has no potential to impact fish, wildlife, or their habitat, a No Effect Determination may be issued and this fee will be waived.

CEQA Document 2023 2024
Negative Declaration (ND) $2,764.00 $2,916.75
Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) $2,764.00 $2,916.75
Environmental Impact Report (EIR) $3,839.25 $4,051.25
Environmental Document pursuant to a Certified Regulatory Program (CRP)* $1,305.25 $1,377.25
County Clerk Processing Fee** $50.00 $50.00

* CRPs include certain state agency regulatory programs as defined in section 21080.5 of the Public Resources Code and section 15251 of the CEQA Guidelines. Since July 1, 2013, environmental document filing fees no longer apply to the filing of Notices of Decision or Determination for Forest Practice Rules and Timber Harvest Plans (Pub. Resources Code, § 4629.6, added by Stats. 2012, ch. 289, § 3).

** Additional county fees may apply. Please check with your county clerk's office for details.

No Effect Determination

A No Effect Determination (NED) is made solely for the purpose of determining environmental document filing fees and is not part of the assessment a lead agency makes under CEQA (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, § 753.5, subd. (c)(1)(A)). Lead agencies continue to be responsible for determining whether projects will have potentially significant environmental effects on the environment, including biological resources. CDFW is solely responsible for determining whether a project will qualify for a NED and if the environmental document filing fee will be waived.

A project that causes any effect on fish, wildlife, or the habitats they depend on is ineligible to receive an NED. If you want more information about the NED process or to request an NED, visit our NED page.