The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) states that
“all native species of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, invertebrates, and plants, and their habitats, threatened with extinction and those experiencing a significant decline which, if not halted, would lead to a threatened or endangered designation, will be protected or preserved.”
Section 2081(b) of the California Fish and Game Code allows California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to permit the incidental take of a species listed to CESA.
Incidental Take Permit Process
To initiate the Incidental Take Permit process, applicants should contact the appropriate CDFW Regional Office in the location of the proposed project, and submit a permit application. Regional environmental scientists can help guide applicants with the Incidental Take Permit application and will maintain contact throughout the Incidental Take Permit process. The Incidental Take Permit application should include:
- Applicant’s full name, mailing address, and telephone number(s). If the applicant is a corporation, firm, partnership, association, institution, or public or private agency, the name and address of the person responsible for the project or activity requiring the permit, the president or principal officer, and the registered agent for the service of process.
- The common and scientific names of the species to be covered by the permit and the species’ status under CESA.
- A complete description of the project or activity for which the permit is sought.
- The location where the project or activity is to occur or to be conducted.
- An analysis of whether and to what extent the project or activity for which the permit is sought could result in the taking of species to be covered by the permit.
- An analysis of the impacts of the proposed taking on the species.
- An analysis of whether issuance of the incidental take permit would jeopardize the continued existence of a species (“jeopardy analysis”). This analysis shall include consideration of the species’ capability to survive and reproduce, and any adverse impacts of the taking on those abilities in light of
- known population trends;
- known threats to the species; and
- reasonably foreseeable impacts on the species from other related projects and activities.
- Proposed measures to minimize and fully mitigate the impacts of the proposed taking.
- A proposed plan to monitor compliance with the minimization and mitigation measures and the effectiveness of the measures.
- A description of the funding source and the level of funding available for implementation of the minimization and mitigation measures.
- Certification in the following language:
- I certify that the information submitted in this application is complete and accurate to the best of my knowledge and belief. I understand that any false statement herein may subject me to suspension or revocation of this permit and to civil and criminal penalties under the laws of the State of California.
The purpose of the jeopardy analysis is to analyze whether the issuance of the requested permit would jeopardize the continued existence of the species, informed by a comparison of the effect of the adverse impacts of the taking on the species relative to the condition of the species if the adverse impacts do not occur, in light of known population trends, known threats to the species, and reasonably foreseeable impacts on the species from other related projects and activities.
The jeopardy analysis should be based on the best scientific and other information that is reasonably available. What constitutes “the best scientific and other information that is reasonably available” will vary by species, location, project details and the extent to which scientific information pertaining to the species has been previously developed. As such, no standard criteria for what comprises “the best scientific and other information that is reasonably available” can be established.
Minimization and Mitigation Measures
Measures to minimize the take of species covered by the permit and to mitigate the impacts caused by the take will be set forth in one or more attachments to the permit. This attachment will generally be a mitigation plan (possibly a Habitat Conservation Plan) prepared and submitted by the applicant in coordination with CDFW staff.
The mitigation plan should identify measures to avoid and minimize the take of CESA-listed species and to fully mitigate the impact of that take. These measures can vary from project to project and from species to species.
Examples of measures used in the past include (source CDFW here):
- erecting protective fencing around sensitive habitat within construction sites
- take avoidance measures tailored to the affected species
- employee education programs
- specific reporting procedures when an animal is killed, injured, or trapped
- compliance inspections and reports
- directions for the acquisition and transfer of habitat management lands
- associated funding, including money for document processing and for initial protection (e.g., fencing, posting, clean-up), and endowments for management of the lands in perpetuity
Applicants may propose alternative strategies for minimizing and fully mitigating impacts. CDFW must be able to conclude, however, that the project’s impacts are fully mitigated and the measures, when taken in aggregate, must meet the full mitigation standard.