IMPLEMENTING BIOLOGICAL RESOURCE PROTECTIONS INTO WILDFIRE RESILIENCE PROJECTS USING THE CALIFORNIA VEGETATION TREATMENT PROGRAM (CALVTP)
|Lara Rachowicz; Ascent Environmental; email@example.com; Heather Blair|
The California Vegetation Treatment Program (CalVTP) Program EIR directs the implementation of vegetation treatments on 20 million acres across California to reduce wildfire risks, restore ecosystems, and minimize the harmful effects of wildfire on the people, property, and natural resources in California. The CalVTP is now being implemented to streamline and expedite environmental review of treatment projects while simultaneously incorporating strong environmental protections. Current projects being implemented include treatment activities such as mechanical and manual treatments, prescribed burning, herbivory, and herbicide application. Because these activities may have the potential to adversely affect sensitive habitats and special status species, a robust impact avoidance and mitigation framework was built into the CalVTP in coordination with resource agencies including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Coastal Commission. Real-world project-specific examples will demonstrate how CalVTP’s streamlining has substantially cut time and cost for environmental review of fuel treatment projects, while also avoiding and minimizing adverse effects on special-status wildlife species. Case studies will highlight the agency coordination requirements and biological resources mitigation framework of the CalVTP, which was designed to encompass species and resources statewide, be inherently flexible to address the needs of specific projects, and compliant with CEQA.