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SB-226 Watershed restoration: wildfires: grant program.(2019-2020)



Current Version: 03/18/19 - Amended Senate        


SB226:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  March 18, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 226


Introduced by Senator Nielsen

February 07, 2019


An act to add Part 4.8 (commencing with Section 71380) to Division 34 of the Public Resources Code, relating to watershed restoration. restoration, and making an appropriation therefor.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 226, as amended, Nielsen. Watershed restoration: wildfires: grant program.
Existing law provides that resource conservation is of fundamental importance to the prosperity and welfare of the people of this state. Existing law provides that the Legislature believes that the state must assume leadership in formulating and putting into effect a statewide program of soil and water conservation and related natural resource conservation. Existing law authorizes the Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency to jointly develop and submit to the Legislature a plan for forest and water restoration investments for the drainages that supply specified reservoirs.
This bill would require the agency to develop and implement a watershed restoration grant program, as provided, for purposes of awarding grants to private property land owners eligible counties, as defined, to assist them with watershed restoration on watersheds that have been affected by wildfire, as specified. The bill would require the agency to provide technical resources to the private property land owners seeking assistance with watershed restoration, as provided. The bill would require an eligible county receiving funds pursuant to the grant program to submit annually to the agency a report regarding projects funded by the grant program, as provided. The bill would make related legislative findings and declarations.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires a lead agency, as defined, to prepare, or cause to be prepared, and certify the completion of, an environmental impact report on a project that it proposes to carry out or approve that may have a significant effect on the environment or to adopt a negative declaration if it finds that the project will not have that effect. CEQA also requires a lead agency to prepare a mitigated negative declaration for a project that may have a significant effect on the environment if revisions in the project would avoid or mitigate that effect and there is no substantial evidence that the project, as revised, would have a significant effect on the environment.
This bill would provide that projects funded by the watershed restoration grant program are not subject to the requirements of CEQA.
This bill would appropriate $75,000,000 from the General Fund to the Natural Resources Agency for implementation of the grant program.
Vote: MAJORITY2/3   Appropriation: NOYES   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares that the recent catastrophic wildfires have had a harmful impact on the state’s watersheds.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would establish a “working watershed management plan” and require that before any watershed restoration activities take place pursuant to grant funding provided by the Watershed Restoration Grant Program developed pursuant to Section 71380 71385 of the Public Resources Code, that the plan be approved by the Natural Resources Agency.

SEC. 2.

 Part 4.8 (commencing with Section 71380) is added to Division 34 of the Public Resources Code, to read:

PART 4.8. Private Landowners Watershed Restoration Grant Program

CHAPTER  1. Definitions

71380.
 (a)For purposes of this Section, part, the following terms apply:

(1)

(a) “Agency” means the Natural Resources Agency.
(b) “Eligible county” means a county in which a wildfire had occurred in the calendar years 2017 and 2018 and for which a state of emergency was declared by the Governor pursuant to the California Emergency Services Act (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 8550) of Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code) based on the wildfire.

(2)

(c) “Program” means the Private Landowners Watershed Restoration Grant Program developed pursuant to this section. Section 71385.

(3)

(d) “Watershed” shall mean any river, watershed, or river system tributary that has been affected by a wildfire that occurred before December 31, 2019.

(b)The agency shall develop and implement a watershed restoration grant program, which shall include a requirement that a grant applicant submit a working watershed management plan to be approved by the agency.

(c)As part of the program, the agency shall award grants to private property land owners to assist with watershed restoration.

(d)The agency shall provide technical resources to the private property land owners seeking assistance with watershed restoration pursuant to this section.

CHAPTER  2. Grant Program

71385.
 (a) The agency shall develop and implement the Watershed Restoration Grant Program to provide grants to eligible counties for the restoration of watersheds that are within 10 miles of the boundaries of a wildfire that occurred in the county.
(b) Moneys provided pursuant to the program shall serve as matching funds for projects for the restoration of watersheds and shall not exceed 50 percent of the costs of the projects.
(c) (1) Grant funds awarded pursuant to the program to an eligible county shall be disbursed over a period of five years and an eligible county shall not receive more than one million dollars ($1,000,000) per year.
(2) Moneys disbursed each calendar year shall be expended by the eligible county by the end of each calendar year.
(d) An eligible county may expend up to 5 percent of the amount disbursed each year for the county’s administrative costs.
(e) The agency may expend 5 percent of the amount appropriated for the program for the agency’s administrative costs in implementing the program.

71386.
 (a) An eligible county applying for a grant pursuant to the program shall submit an application to the agency by January 1, 2023.
(b) As a part of the application, an eligible county shall include a working watershed management plan that provides a description of projects that will be funded by the program and the milestones and timelines for the projects.

71387.
 An eligible county receiving a grant pursuant to the program shall, by January 1 of each year following a calendar year for which moneys are disbursed pursuant to the grant, submit to the agency a report with all of the following:
(a) A description of the properties on which activities funded by the grant have been undertaken in the previous calendar year. The description shall include photographic images of the properties before and after the completion of the activities and a description of water quality, including test results, of the properties before and after the completion of the activities.
(b) A description of activities funded by the program undertaken in the previous calendar year.
(c) A breakdown of the costs of the projects funded by the program in the previous calendar year.
(d) A third-party inspection report on the results of the activities undertaken in the previous calendar year.

71388.
 Projects funded by a grant awarded pursuant to this chapter are not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000)).

SEC. 3.

 (a) The sum of seventy-five million dollars ($75,000,000) is hereby appropriated from the General Fund to the Natural Resources Agency for purposes of Part 4.8 (commencing with Section 71380) of Division 34 of the Public Resources Code.
(b) Notwithstanding Section 16304 of the Government Code, the amount appropriated pursuant to subdivision (a) is available for encumbrance for five years after the date upon which it first became available for encumbrance.