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New Coastal and Water Quality Streamlining for CalVTP Program EIR Users

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by Heather Blair and Lara Rachowicz, PhD

If you are seeking to increase the pace and scale of vegetation treatments for wildfire risk reduction, two new regulatory tools were recently approved to help you. They substantially streamline Clean Water Act and California Coastal Act compliance for vegetation treatment projects using the California Vegetation Treatment Program (CalVTP) Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The CalVTP Program EIR is one of the state’s cornerstone strategies to make approval of qualifying vegetation treatment projects faster and easier, while also protecting habitat quality, by accelerating California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance.

Clean Water Act Streamlining

The California State Water Resources Control Board approved the final Vegetation Treatment General Order on July 6, 2021. This new General Order aims to protect water quality while facilitating the State’s goals to increase pace and scale of vegetation treatment to reduce wildfire risk. The General Order streamlines regulations for discharges into Waters of the State from qualifying vegetation treatment activities.

Who can use this General Order?

  • Any local or state agency proposing projects that are within the scope of the CalVTP Program EIR and have completed a Project-Specific Analysis (PSA) or PSA/Addendum to the Program EIR (more information on these documents is available on the How to Use the CalVTP webpage)

What does the General Order require?

  • It requires implementation of the applicable standard project requirements (SPRs) and mitigation measures from the CalVTP Program EIR.
  • An individual report of waste discharge, additional costs, or new measures are not required for vegetation treatment activities found to be within the scope of the CalVTP Program EIR.

How does my agency enroll to use the General Order?

  • Agencies are automatically enrolled through the CalVTP notification process for PSAs (refer to the CalVTP Implementation Database webpage for information on reporting requirements for PSAs)

The Final Draft of the General Order is located on the How to Use the CalVTP webpage.

California Coastal Act Streamlining

On July 8, 2021, the California Coastal Commission unanimously approved Forest Health and Fire Prevention Public Works Plans (PWPs) for San Mateo County and Santa Cruz County as well as the Camp Butano Vegetation Treatment Project, which is the first CalVTP PSA prepared using a PWP for Coastal Act compliance. These 10-year PWPs will serve as programmatic Coastal Act authorizations for treatment projects undertaken pursuant to the CalVTP Program EIR in the Coastal Zone. PWPs are an alternative to project-by-project review for vegetation treatment, which would otherwise require obtaining a coastal development permit for each qualifying project.

Who can use a Public Works Plan?

  • Any state or local agency proposing a treatment project in the PWP Program Areas and preparing a PSA using the CalVTP Program EIR, in coordination with the San Mateo County or Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation District and Coastal Commission staff.
  • Any public agency with jurisdiction within the Coastal Zone could prepare a PWP for vegetation treatment.

What does a Public Works Plan require?

  • Use of a PWP requires implementation of applicable standard project requirements (SPRs) and mitigation measures from the CalVTP Program EIR.
  • Additional Coastal-specific Vegetation Treatment Standards (Coastal VTS) are also required.

How does my agency use a Public Works Plan?

  • Submit individual projects as Notice of Impending Developments (NOIDs), which must demonstrate projects are consistent with the PWP.
  • Detailed instruction on process is provided in the PWP.

The plans are available on the How to Use the CalVTP webpage: San Mateo County PWP and Santa Cruz County PWP.

Any Questions?

Lara Rachowicz, PhD

Lara Rachowicz, PhD

Senior Ecologist/Senior Environmental Project Manager
Heather Blair

Heather Blair

Principal – Environmental

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