CALVTP: CEQA'S ROLE IN INCREASING THE PACE AND SCALE OF WILDFIRE RESILIENCE
|Lily J Bostrom; Ascent Environmental, Inc; email@example.com;|
California’s wildfire crisis is worsening. Streamlining CEQA to expedite ecosystem restoration and wildfire resilience projects is a critical need and a clear policy priority of Governor Newsom’s administration. California’s Forest Carbon Plan and Shared Stewardship Agreement call for federal and state agencies to each meet a goal of treating 500,000 acres annually by 2025. How can CEQA compliance for critical wildfire resilience treatment projects be accelerated? Program EIRs are a highly effective tool in streamlining CEQA review of qualifying projects while maintaining environmental protection. The Program EIR for the California Vegetation Treatment Program (CalVTP) was certified by the Board of Forestry in December 2019. The Program EIR is designed for use by any public agency providing or receiving state funding or with land ownership and/or management responsibilities in the treatable landscape that seeks to implement vegetation treatments consistent with the CalVTP; there are more than 150 such state and local agencies. The Program EIR allows for CEQA streamlining through associated documentation, including “within the scope” findings. The streamlined approach documents a project’s environmental effects and which resource protection measures from the Program EIR would be incorporated to avoid and reduce effects, including on wildlife and habitat.