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LSA Questions and Answers

When is Notification required?

California law (link opens in new windowFish and Game Code section 1602) requires an entity to notify CDFW prior to commencing any activity that may:

  • Substantially divert or obstruct the natural flow of any river, stream, or lake;
  • Substantially change or use any material from the bed, channel, or bank of any river, stream, or lake; or
  • Deposit or dispose of debris, waste, or other materials containing crumbled, flaked, or ground pavement where it may pass into any river, stream, or lake.

The notification requirement applies to any river, stream, or lake, including those that are dry for periods of time (ephemeral/episodic) as well as those that flow year round (perennial). This includes ephemeral streams, desert washes, and watercourses with a subsurface flow. It may also apply to work undertaken within the flood plain of a water body. If you are not certain that your proposed activity requires notification, CDFW recommends that you notify or consult with the link opens in new windowCDFW regional office (PDF) serving your project area. 

Episodic streamPerennial water way

Is there a fee?

Yes, there is a link opens in new windownotification fee (PDF) that must be received before CDFW will process your notification.

How do I Notify?

Submit a complete notification form and fee to the link opens in new windowCDFW regional office (PDF) that serves the county where the activity will occur. The LSA notification form, instructions, and fee schedule are available online and at CDFW regional offices. 

When you notify CDFW of your project, you will be asked to indicate what type of LSA Agreement you are requesting. Agreement types are based on project-specific activities.

Does CDFW need to comply with other state laws or regulations before issuing a Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement?

Yes. CDFW must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000, et seq.) before it may issue a final Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement. Issuance of a final Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement occurs after CDFW receives a draft Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement from the applicant and CDFW signs it. In many instances, CDFW will receive a signed draft Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement from an applicant before the lead agency has fully complied with CEQA. In those instances, CDFW must wait for the lead agency to fully comply with CEQA before it may sign the draft Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement, thereby making it final.

Under CEQA, the "lead agency" is the local or state governmental agency that has the principal responsibility for carrying out or approving the activity. All other local or state agencies with discretionary approval authority are “responsible agencies.”

The lead agency must determine first whether the activity is exempt from CEQA. If the activity is not exempt, the lead agency must prepare an environmental document, which will be a negative declaration, a mitigated negative declaration, or an environmental impact report. A lead agency is entitled to recover all of its CEQA-related costs from the applicant. If CDFW acts as the lead agency for the activity your draft agreement covers, it will instruct you to submit an initial deposit to cover its initial CEQA-related costs. The deposit and any further CEQA-related costs will be in addition to your notification fee.

If CDFW is a responsible agency, you must submit with your notification package a copy of any document prepared by the lead agency pursuant to CEQA, if one already has been prepared. You must also identify in your notification package the lead agency. Also, Fish and Game Code section 711.4 requires the lead agency to collect a fee on behalf of CDFW whenever the lead agency prepares an environmental document, unless the activity is exempt from the fee. Current CEQA fees are found in Fish and Game Code Section 711.4, available at

(Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, § 15000 et seq.) that implement CEQA, and CEQA handbooks and guides. CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines are available at: CEQA Guidelines

What is an LSA Agreement?

An LSA Agreement is a type of permit that includes measures necessary to protect existing fish and wildlife resources.

When is an LSA Agreement required?

CDFW requires an LSA Agreement when it determines that the activity, as described in a complete LSA Notification, may substantially adversely affect existing fish or wildlife resources. 

Culvert under a roadconstruction along a river bank

What if there is a threatened or endangered species present?

The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) prohibits the take of any species of wildlife designated as endangered, threatened, or candidate species. CDFW may authorize take of any such species if certain conditions are met. Foothill yellow-legged frog

A Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement does not provide CESA take authorization. If your project may result in take of a state listed species, a separate CESA permit may be required. If a species is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, you will need to contact the link opens in new windowU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Should I contact other agencies?

Depending on the activity you are proposing, you might also need to obtain a permit or other authorization from one or more governmental agencies. You should first contact your city and county planning departments to determine whether you need to obtain any local permits. The state and federal agencies listed below may also have permitting authority over your activity.

California State Agencies

Federal Agencies

Do I need to Notify for emergency work?

A project/work is considered an emergency if:

  1. The work is necessary to protect life or property;
  2. Immediate repairs to public service facilities are necessary to maintain service as a result of a disaster in an area in which the Governor has proclaimed a state of emergency; or
  3. The project is undertaken, carried out, or approved by a state or local governmental agency to maintain, repair, or restore an existing highway, within the existing right-of-way of the highway, that has been damaged as a result of fire, flood, storm, earthquake, land subsidence, gradual earth movement, or landslide, within one year of the damage.

You must link opens in new windownotify CDFW (PDF) in writing within 14 days of beginning emergency project/work.

What about CEQA?

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) applies to all discretionary projects to be conducted or approved by a California public agency, including LSA Agreements. Before issuing an LSA Agreement, CDFW must comply with CEQA.

CDFW imposes and collects a 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). The filing fee will be waived, however, if CDFW determines the project will have no effect on fish and wildlife and issues a “No Effect Determination.”

For project and site specific LSA questions, contact the link opens in new windowCDFW Region (PDF) where the project is located.

Email the LSA Program Sacramento

Habitat Conservation Planning Branch
1700 9th Street, 2nd Floor, Sacramento, CA 95811
Mailing: P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
(916) 653-4875