Wildlife Heritage Foundation event synopsis
On the 24th of January the California Council of Land Trusts held the first Mitigation Summit where many topics concerning SB 1148 (CDFW Mitigation Banking Program) and SB 1094 (mitigation endowment) were discussed. Topics included the new California Department of Fish and Wildlife “looking forward” effort, renewable energy, farmland mitigation and Mitigation Banking.
In case you missed it we felt it prudent to provide you, our clients, with a general overview of this event.
The most important talking point of the day that we find important to share with you was the position taken by the Director of Fish and Wildlife, Charlton Bonham and the Deputy Director Kevin Hunting. During Director Bonham’s speech he covered many topics including his commitment to revamp CDFW to improve project approval timelines as well as refocus the purpose of the Department.
In his speech Bonham said “CDFW will not invoke CESA as a backdoor approach to approving endowment holders…”also that “CDFW is not in the business of approving endowment holders involved in CESA mitigation projects.” These two points are of significant value to you as a current or potential project proponent. Here is why, if your Regional contacts at CDFW are currently delaying your project for any reason related to the ability of CDFW to confirm a nonprofit’s status to hold endowments these quotes are your new pathway to getting your projects approved.
Another key take away from this summit that you should be aware of is the relationship between SB 1148 and SB 1094 and mitigation banks. According to Helen Birss and 2 other staff members the new processes being designed to free up the backlog of banks at CDFW, which currently stands at 95, should be in full swing by the end of 2013. A flow chart has been designed by CDFW that outlines the new fee structure and where in this process you might fall as a current applicant. Unfortunately this flow chart was not made public, yet, it is still in flux.
What we took from the breakout session co-chaired by Patrick Shea was that CDFW has much work to do in terms of getting all parties, including CDFW staff, on board with the new processes and that the queue of 95 projects will be prioritized and addresses individually. We cannot say you will avoid the new fees, nor could they, but the goal is to effectively eliminate this blockade within 12 months.
If you have any questions for us regarding the summit, our take away points or how this may affect your project please email or call Patrick Shea ([email protected] or 916-434-2759).
Best regards in 2013,
Wildlife Heritage Foundation