Conservation Update, 2010 Mar | CEQA Threats, State Parks Access Pass, North OC Watershed
CEQA ENDANGERED: CNPS has joined with conservation organizations statewide to strongly oppose proposed legislation that would immunize at least 125 “favored” projects from CEQA enforcement. (See http://www.pcl.org/projects/ceqa.html)
The bills and their sponsors are:
ABx8 37 (Calderon (D) & Nestande (R))
AB 1805 (Calderon (D) & Nestande (R))
SBx8 42 (Correa (D) & Cogdill (R))
SB 1010 (Correa (D) & Cogdill (R))
Descriptions of the bills are at http://ct2k2.capitoltrack.com/report.asp?rptid=U27790.
The four bills are aimed to create the CEQA Litigation Protection Pilot Program. The proponents’ stated purpose is to expedite an increase in both jobs and investment throughout California during a great recession. The language of all four bills is the same, with regular and fast-tracked versions heading through both the Assembly and the Senate.
However, as pointed out during the Feb. 24 debate on SBx8 42 by the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, the relationship between the effect of the bill(s) and actual job creation is limited and anecdotal, if not completely absent. After some candid debate, the Committee pushed the legislative “pause button” on SBx8 42. (See more on the hearing in PCL Insider for Feb. 26.)
If any version of these bills passes, selected projects would be granted judicial immunity long before any environmental review is done. This means that California citizens would have no means to enforce CEQA’s environmental review process in court for any of the projects—no matter their size or their impact on native flora and fauna, or on people’s lives.
ACTION NOW: Tell your State Assemblyman and Senator that CEQA must not be bypassed in the name of short-term economic solutions, or for any other cause. Find your legislators at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html.
SAVE OUR STATE PARKS INITIATIVE: A drive is underway to gather signatures to qualify the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act (aka the State Park Access Pass) for the November ballot. See calparks.org/takeaction/. The initiative would create an $18 vehicle license fee to fund state parks, and allow California vehicle owners to receive free day use access to all State Parks. The drive is headed by California State Parks Foundation, Sierra Club, and Audubon California; state CNPS is a supporter. ACTION NOW: Contact Save Our State Parks Initiative Orange County Coordinator Elizabeth Lambe, firstname.lastname@example.org, to help gather signatures.
NORTHERN OC WATERSHEDS: If you live in northern OC, you have a new opportunity to have input re native plants and habitat restoration. The Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) wants community input as part of its Master Plan analysis of Brea, Carbon Canyon and Fullerton Dams. ACOE recently held a Master Plan Community Workshop to review and recommend appropriate locations for habitat preservation and recreation, as well as provide guidance for future management of ACOE lands. See http://www.ocwatersheds.com/watersheds.asp for maps of the watersheds. ACTION NOW: contact Priyanka Wadhawan, ACOE Lead Planner, (213) 452-3828, to learn how to have input on the habitat restoration associated with these dams.
CNPS’ NATIVE PLANTS & FIRE SAFETY POLICY: The final draft of the formal policy will be presented to CNPS’ Chapter Council at its March 13 meeting. If the policy is approved, information on fuel management, fire-safe landscaping and local fire-safe guidelines will be available on CNPS’ hort website in coming months. Contact for policy details.
—Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair