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Other Types of CEQA Project Reviews

CDFW reviews and provides comments and recommendations on federal, State, city, county, and other land use plans and projects; this review includes land use elements and amendments (GC 65300; PRC 21000). Plans are analyzed for consistency with Commission and CDFW policies, management plans, and programs regarding the protection and conservation of fish and wildlife resources.

The headquarters' and regions' responsibilities and procedures are to:

  1. Notify the Commission when any federal, State, or local plan has the potential to conflict with Commission policy or CDFW management plans and programs, and would have significant adverse impacts on fish and wildlife resources.
  2. Work cooperatively with any federal, State, and local land management agencies to resolve conflicts between their plans and CDFW policies, management plans, programs, and other responsibilities.
  3. Prepare written reports evaluating proposed land use changes which may have a significant impact on fish and wildlife habitat or other sensitive natural resources. Written reports shall include sections on evaluation of potential impacts, recommendation for project mitigation or opposition, and consistency of recommendations with Commission and CDFW policies.
  4. Comply with statutory deadlines for plan review.
  5. Offer guidance and advice to the Directorate, commissions, agencies, boards, and regions on State, federal, and local fish and wildlife issues.

Review Procedures

Some plans cover a number of counties or a biologically-based region (bioregion) within the State. These plans may even involve other states neighboring California. It is the responsibility of CDFW's regions to review and comment on these plans if they will have impacts on sensitive fish and wildlife resources; CDFW's may then offer specific recommendations based on the review. CDFW should strive to be a collaborating partner in the development of such plans. Often these plans are developed to consolidate several project reviews and approach mitigation issues on a landscape basis rather than on an individual project impact basis. A detailed treatment of landscape planning is presented in another part of this Operations Manual (see sections 1140 and 1150 on Natural Community Conservation Plans and Habitat Conservation Plans, respectively).

State Planning Law requires local governments to adopt a comprehensive, long-term, general plan for the physical development of lands within their jurisdiction. The general plan consists of a development policy, objectives, principles, standards, and various proposals. Each plan must include a discussion of the following mandatory elements: land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise, and safety. In addition, the general plan may include other elements that have the weight and importance of mandatory elements.

Regions may choose to review or participate in the development of those general plans of counties where the potential for major conflicts between fish and wildlife habitat needs and development exists. In addition, Regions shall review general plans when notified by any county which anticipates a conflict due to its proposed developments.

The Regional staff takes the lead in assembling all data, maps, and other pertinent information on fish and wildlife populations and habitats. Additionally, Regional staffs assemble relevant property information from County Assessor's files, correlating this information with data on habitat and other resources of concern. The mapped information is analyzed and a strategy is developed that will protect fish and wildlife that are proposed for development. Regional staff is strongly encouraged to collaborate with the county staff and constituents in developing data and recommendations. Finally, maps, other information, and recommendations to avoid or reduce impacts to fish and wildlife resources are then transmitted from the appropriate Regional Manager to the local lead agencies.

Generally, a subdivision is any division of land for sale, lease, or financing and is governed by the Subdivision Map Act (Map Act). The Map Act distinguishes between major (five or more parcels) and minor (four or less) subdivisions. Five or more parcels require a tentative and a final map. Those subdivisions consisting of four or less parcels require a parcel map. Tentative map filing must comply with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements. Statutory exemptions to the Map Act include such categories of land use as agricultural leases and wind-powered electrical generation facilities.

The lead agency is under no requirement to refer final maps to governmental agencies for further CEQA review other than affected school districts. The approval of a final map is ministerial as long as it conforms to all the conditions of approval attached to the tentative map.

The Map Act procedures provide the opportunity for integrating fish and wildlife protective provisions as conditions for approval of tentative maps or parcel maps through the CEQA process. The appropriate Regional office is responsible for:

  1. Establishing a direct contact with local agencies processing tentative maps with a request to be notified of pending tracts.
  2. Checking proposed maps against resource inventory data sources.
  3. Preparing comment letters with recommendations to the lead agency.
  4. Establishing mutually beneficial working partnerships with local governmental planning staffs to develop a long_term plan for fish and wildlife and other sensitive resource protection as a specific element of the local general plan thereby ensuring that map approval is consistent with all plan elements.

For approval of tentative subdivision or parcel maps, the proposed subdivision and the provisions for its design and improvement must be consistent with the general plan or any applicable specific plan. Local government may deny a tentative map or parcel map if findings conclude that the design or proposed improvements are likely to cause substantial environmental damage, or substantially injure fish, wildlife, or their habitat (GC 66474[e]).

A tentative or parcel map for which significant environmental effects have been identified may be approved if an environmental impact report (EIR) was prepared for the project and a finding was made under Section 21081 (c) of PRC. Findings under this section must be that specific economic, social, or other considerations make the mitigation measures or project alternatives identified in the EIR infeasible (GC 66474.01, 1986). For example, local government may deny a tentative map if discharge of waste from the proposed subdivision would violate existing Regional Water Quality Control Board requirements (GC 66474.6).


Contact CDFW's CEQA Program: CEQA@wildlife.ca.gov

NOTE: CDFW staff cannot make decisions or intercede on CEQA projects under the jurisdiction of another lead agency. Please address project-specific comments to the project's lead agency.



Habitat Conservation Planning Branch
1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 653-4875