Fish and wildlife resources are held in trust for the people of the State by and through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). CDFW is concerned with activities associated with cannabis cultivation and the effects on fish and wildlife resources. Cannabis cultivation activities that can have adverse impacts include, but are not limited to, diversion of water, land clearing such as timber conversion, road construction and stream crossings, riparian vegetation removal, and introduction of pollutants (fertilizers, amendments and pesticides) into waterways and other habitats.
To ensure that such activities do not adversely impact fish and wildlife resources, CDFW is engaged in environmental review and permitting, enforcement, and coordination with other agencies developing and implementing regulatory programs for cannabis cultivation.
Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act
As directed by the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) (SB 94) (PDF), CDFW, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), must ensure that individual and cumulative effects of water diversion and discharge associated with cannabis cultivation do not affect the instream flows needed for fish spawning, migration, and rearing, and the flows needed to maintain natural flow variability, and to otherwise protect fish, wildlife, fish and wildlife habitat, and water quality. CDFW is engaged with other State agencies in implementation of a comprehensive effort related to regulating cannabis cultivation statewide. These include efforts led by CDFA, the State Water Board, and the Regional Water Quality Control Boards.
Lake and Streambed Alteration
Pursuant to Business and Professions Code 26060.1(b)(3) every license for cultivation issued by the CDFA must comply with Section 1602 of the Fish and Game Code or receive written verification from the CDFW that a Lake or Streambed Alteration (LSA) Agreement is not required. Compliance with Section 1602 of the Fish and Game Code requires all prospective licensees to submit a LSA notification to the CDFW regional office serving the area where the activity will occur. Upon receipt of a complete LSA notification, CDFW will determine if an LSA Agreement is required. The LSA notification form, notification process and instructions, and fee schedule are available at the CDFW regional offices and from the Lake and Streambed Alteration Program page.
The individual and cumulative effects of cannabis cultivation can impact wildlife, pollute land and streams, and destroy habitat. To address the impacts of cultivation on private lands, CDFW created the Watershed Enforcement Program (WEP). WEP consists of Watershed Enforcement Teams (WET) throughout the state composed of CDFW law enforcement and scientific staff. The objective of WET is to work collaboratively with the State Water Board to prevent, assess, and remediate environmental damage from cannabis cultivation sites.
Cannabis Restoration Grant Program
The Cannabis Restoration Grant Program funds projects that restore anadromous salmonid habitat in watersheds most heavily impacted by Cannabis cultivation. Assembly Bill 243 (Wood, Medical Marijuana) provides direction to CDFW to restore watersheds impacted by Cannabis cultivation in key areas of Coastal Northern California. For more information please see the Cannabis Restoration Grant Program web page.