CDFW's Role in CEQA

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.

bridge spanning river gorge near ocean

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.

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, 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(opens in new tab) 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(opens in new tab) 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(opens in new tab) 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.

Habitat Conservation Planning Branch
1010 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento, CA 95605
Mailing: P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090