Code Section Group

Public Resources Code - PRC

DIVISION 5. PARKS AND MONUMENTS [5001 - 5873]

  ( Division 5 added by Stats. 1939, Ch. 94. )

CHAPTER 13. California Natural Landmarks Program [5860 - 5873]
  ( Heading of Chapter 13 renumbered from Chapter 12 (as added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827) by Stats. 2007, Ch. 130, Sec. 203.5. )

5860.
  

The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) The procedures in this chapter set forth the processes and criteria for identifying, evaluating, designating, and monitoring California natural landmarks.

(b) The California Natural Landmarks Program focuses attention on areas of exceptional natural value to the state as a whole rather than to one particular region or locality. The program encourages the owners of California natural landmarks to voluntarily observe preservation precepts.

(c) The California Natural Landmarks Program identifies and preserves natural areas that best illustrate the biological and geological character of the state, enhances the scientific and educational values of preserved areas, strengthens public appreciation of natural history, and fosters a greater concern for the conservation of the state’s heritage.

(d) Many of the state’s most important biological, ecological, and geological features are found either partly or entirely on privately owned land.

(e) There is a need to recognize and promote private as well as public stewardship of natural resources for the public benefit.

(f) It is the intent of the State of California through the California Natural Landmarks Program to recognize and promote partnerships resulting in the stewardship of natural resources on privately and publicly owned land.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5861.
  

As used in this chapter, the following terms have the following meanings, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

(a) “California natural landmark” means property designated by the director as being of state significance to California because it is an outstanding example of major biological and geological features found within the boundaries of the state.

(b) “California Registry of Natural Landmarks” means the official listing of all designated California natural landmarks.

(c) “Department” means the Department of Parks and Recreation.

(d) “Director” means the Director of Parks and Recreation.

(e) “Natural region” means a distinct physiographic province having similar geologic history, structures, and land forms. The basic physiographic characteristics of a natural region influence its vegetation, climate, soils, and animal life.

(f) (1) “Owner” means the person, corporation, or partnership that holds fee simple title to real property, or its agent, or the head of the public agency or subordinate employee of the public agency to whom that authority is delegated, who is responsible for administering publicly owned land and who has presented satisfactory evidence of his or her legal right to represent the interests of the subject land.

(2) “Owner” does not include a person, partnership, corporation, or public agency that holds, in any form, an easement or less than a fee interest, including any leasehold that is not tantamount to fee ownership, or does not have authority to act on behalf of the property.

(3) (A) A Native American tribe that is the beneficial fee simple owner of real property, with the United States as trustee, is an owner of real property for the purposes of this chapter.

(B) A member of a Native American tribe who is the beneficial owner of real property, held in trust by the United States, is an owner of real property for the purposes of this chapter.

(g) “Potential California natural landmark” means property that, based on a recommendation or initial comparison with other properties within the state or in the same natural region, could merit further study of its qualifications for possible California natural landmark designation.

(h) “Prejudicial procedural error” means a procedural error that reasonably may be considered to have affected the outcome of the designation process.

(i) “Real property” for the purposes of this chapter shall not include land owned by the federal government, unless the agency owning the land requests its inclusion, and the director determines that its inclusion is feasible and in the best interests of the program.

(j) “Representative” means a public or private individual, agency, or organization that is performing actions related to the identification, evaluation, designation, or monitoring of a California natural landmark, on behalf of or in cooperation with the department, either under a contractual agreement or in a volunteer capacity.

(k) “Scientist” means a person whose combination of academic training and professional field experience in the natural region qualifies him or her to identify and comparatively evaluate a natural area at the regional or state level.

(l) “State significance” means property that is one of the best examples of a biological community or geological feature within a natural region of the state, including a terrestrial community, land form, geological feature and process, habitat of native plant and animal species, or fossil evidence of the development of life.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5862.
  

(a) Designation of property by the director as a California natural landmark does not change the property’s ownership and does not dictate activity.

(b) Designation as a California natural landmark does not require, mandate, or authorize, under state law, any further state or local planning, zoning, or other land-use action or decision.

(c) An owner who agrees to have his or her property designated as a California natural landmark does not give up without his or her consent, under state law, any legal rights and privileges of ownership or use of the property.

(d) The department does not gain a property interest in a California natural landmark by virtue of that designation.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5863.
  

(a) Except as provided in Section 5872, a potential California natural landmark shall be identified only in the following manner:

(1) An owner may request the department to designate his or her property as a California natural landmark. If the designation is proposed to apply to multiple properties, the proposal shall include the written consent of the owners of all included properties.

(2) (A) Upon the owner initiating a request pursuant to paragraph (1), the department shall prepare an estimate of the cost of studies to determine whether the property qualifies as a California natural landmark; the department’s costs, including administrative and staffing costs, in determining whether to designate the property as a California natural landmark; and any other costs attributed to making those determinations. The department shall also prepare a list of scientists qualified to do any studies required to determine whether the property should be designated as a California natural landmark. The list shall include both scientists employed by the state and scientists not employed by the state. A qualified scientist shall be familiar with the natural region and its types of biological and geological features.

(B) The revenues collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the Natural Landmarks Program Administration Fund, which is hereby created as a special fund in the State Treasury. The department may expend the moneys in the fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for the purpose of administering the California Natural Landmarks Program.

(3) (A) An owner who initiates a request to designate his or her property as a California natural landmark is responsible for all costs of determining whether the property qualifies for that designation, as well as any costs of actual designation, including the costs of the department.

(B) (i) If the owner accepts the estimate prepared pursuant to paragraph (2), and wishes to continue with the request for his or her property to be designated as a California natural landmark, he or she shall agree in writing to pay the costs estimated by the department pursuant to paragraph (2) and choose a scientist from the list prepared by the department pursuant to subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2) to do any required studies. The department may require the owner to post security for costs he or she has agreed in writing to pay pursuant to this section.

(ii) The owner may at any time cancel his or her request for California natural landmark designation and any studies being conducted pursuant to that request, and is responsible only for costs incurred in pursuit of that designation prior to the cancellation. If the owner cancels his or her request for California natural landmark designation, or the designation is denied, information already submitted or developed at the expense of the owner shall be returned to him or her.

(b) (1) The department, as well as any scientist performing studies required by the department to make a determination of whether to designate property as a California natural landmark, shall obtain the owner’s permission before entering the owner’s property for purposes of this chapter, except when the property is publicly owned and open to the public. The owner shall not unreasonably withhold permission.

(2) The department may make a determination regarding the property, required by this chapter, using other information, including information that was previously gathered by other federal or California agencies or gained from other scientific studies. The department shall notify the owner if it makes a determination regarding his or her property from existing information that does not require the department to enter the owner’s property.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5864.
  

(a) The department shall use the state significance criteria in Section 5868 to evaluate the potential California natural landmark. The department shall evaluate the potential California natural landmark on a statewide and regional basis, and may compare similar areas that represent a particular type of feature located in the same natural region to identify examples that are among the most illustrative and have the most integrity.

(b) The evaluation required by subdivision (a) shall be performed by the scientist chosen by the owner pursuant to subparagraph (B) of paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 5863. The scientist shall make a detailed description of the area, and assess its statewide and regional standing using the state significance criteria in Section 5868 and any additional information provided by the department.

(c) At least three peer reviewers, who are scientists familiar with the biological or geological features of the area or natural region, shall review the evaluation completed pursuant to subdivision (b). The peer reviewers shall provide the department with information on the scientific merit and strength of supportive documentation in the evaluation.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5865.
  

(a) On the basis of the evaluation and the findings of the peer reviewers, made pursuant to Section 5864, the department shall determine either that the property does or does not appear to qualify for California natural landmark designation or that it requires additional information before a decision regarding the property’s designation as a California natural landmark can be made.

(b) If the department determines that the property does not appear to qualify for California natural landmark designation, the department shall notify the owner in writing of that determination, including reasons therefor.

(c) (1) If the department determines that the property meets the state significance criteria in Section 5868, the department shall notify the owner in writing of that determination. The department shall include in the notice, all of the following:

(A) The procedures that the department follows in making its determination.

(B) The effect of California natural landmark designation, as defined in Section 5861 and as described in Section 5862.

(C) A copy of the evaluation made pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 5864.

(D) An opportunity for the owner to comment.

(2) (A) The department shall also notify appropriate interested parties of the determination as the director deems appropriate, including all of the following:

(i) The executive of both the city and county in which the property is located.

(ii) The Governor.

(iii) Members of the Legislature who represent the district in which the property is located.

(B) The notice shall include both of the following:

(i) The procedures that the department follows in making its determination.

(ii) The effect of California natural landmark designation, as described in Section 5862.

(3) Notification of and receipt of any comments pursuant to this section are the department’s responsibility, and the department shall not delegate that responsibility to a representative.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5866.
  

(a) The department shall review all documentation related to designation of the property as a California natural landmark, including, but not limited to, the evaluation and peer review findings made pursuant to Section 5864 and comments received pursuant to Section 5865, to determine whether the property meets the state significance criteria in Section 5868.

(b) If the department determines that the property does not meet the state significance criteria in Section 5868, the department shall notify the owner in writing, as well as interested parties notified pursuant to subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 5865, that the property is no longer being considered for California natural landmark designation.

(c) The director shall review the documentation specified in subdivision (a) that demonstrates that the property meets the state significance criteria in Section 5868.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5867.
  

(a) If the director determines that the requirements of this chapter are met for California natural landmark designation, including the consent of the owner to that designation, the director shall designate the property as a California natural landmark.

(1) If the director designates the property as a California natural landmark, the department shall notify the owner, as well as interested parties notified pursuant to subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 5865, of that designation.

(2) The property shall be added to the California Registry of Natural Landmarks.

(b) (1) If the owner of the property requests it, after the director designates the property as a California natural landmark, the department may provide the owner, at no cost to the owner, with a certificate, signed by the director, that recognizes the owner’s interest in protecting and managing the property in a manner that prevents the loss or deterioration of the values on which California natural landmark designation is based.

(2) The department may also provide, at the cost of the owner, a plaque for display in or near the California natural landmark. Upon the owner’s request, and to the extent the department’s resources permit, the department may help arrange and participate in a presentation ceremony. After presentation of a plaque, the department retains ownership of the plaque. If the California natural landmark designation is rescinded, the department may reclaim the plaque.

(3) By accepting a certificate or plaque, the owner does not give up any of the rights or privileges of ownership or use of the California natural landmark, and the department does not acquire any interest in the California natural landmark.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5868.
  

Property may be considered for designation if its significant features are either of natural origin and remain largely wild and undisturbed, or have the salient characteristics of natural features, including function and appearance, but have been subject to human intervention or use. The department shall use the following criteria to evaluate whether a property is one of state significance:

(a) Primary criteria for a specific type of natural feature is the main basis for selection of property as being of state significance. Primary criteria consist of both of the following:

(1) Illustrative character, which requires the property to exhibit a combination of well-developed components that are recognized in the appropriate scientific literature as characteristic of a particular type of natural feature. Generally, the property should be unusually illustrative, rather than merely statistically representative.

(2) Present conditions, which require that the integrity of the significant features of the property has been maintained, enhanced, or restored.

(b) Secondary criteria may be used to supplement the comparison of two or more similar properties pursuant to the primary criteria specified in subdivision (a). Secondary criteria consist of all of the following:

(1) Diversity, which requires property, in addition to its primary natural feature, to contain high quality examples of other biological or geological features or processes.

(2) Rarity, which requires property, in addition to its primary natural feature, to contain rare geological or paleontological features or natural communities, or to provide high quality habitat for one or more rare, threatened, or endangered species.

(3) Value for science and education, which requires the property to contain known or potential information as a result of its association with a significant scientific discovery, concept, or exceptionally extensive and long-term record of onsite research, with the result that the property offers unusual opportunity for public interpretation of the natural history of the state.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5869.
  

(a) (1) The department may modify California natural landmark boundaries, or revise information about a California natural landmark, if it determines that modification or revision is necessary. Before considering a proposed modification or revision, the department shall consult with the affected owner.

(2) (A) Federal, state, or local agencies, as well as other public and private organizations or individuals, may suggest to the department modifications of California natural landmark boundaries or revisions of information about a California natural landmark.

(B) The department shall determine the validity of a suggestion made pursuant to subparagraph (A) by applying the state significance criteria in Section 5868 or by conducting additional studies.

(b) Before the department expands the boundaries of a California natural landmark, it shall determine that one of the following apply:

(1) There is better documentation of the extent of features of state significance.

(2) There was professional error in the original designation of the California natural landmark.

(3) The owner of the land included in the proposed expansion has requested that their property be included in the California natural landmark.

(c) If the department determines that expansion of a California natural landmark’s boundaries is appropriate, the department shall use the designation process outlined in Sections 5864, 5865, and 5866 to expand the boundaries. All of the owners of the property into which the boundaries are expanded, as well as the owner of the previously designated property, are required to agree to the expansion.

(d) Before the department reduces the boundaries of a California natural landmark, it shall determine that one of the following apply:

(1) There has been loss of integrity of the natural features of the California natural landmark, but not to the extent that requires the rescission of the landmark designation.

(2) There was professional error in the original designation of the California natural landmark.

(3) A landowner has requested the reduction or rescission of designation.

(e) If the department determines that reduction of a California natural landmark’s boundaries is appropriate, the department shall follow the designation rescission process specified in Section 5870.

(f) (1) If the department determines, with the consent of the owner, that a change in the description of a California natural landmark’s values of state significance is appropriate, the department shall prepare the recommended changes.

(2) The director shall review the information and based on that information may approve changes in the description of the California natural landmark’s values of state significance.

(g) (1) The director may approve minor technical corrections to the boundaries of a California natural landmark, as well as other administrative changes in landmark documentation not covered in subdivisions (a) to (f), inclusive.

(2) For purposes of paragraph (1), minor technical boundary corrections are those that involve a change in less than 5 percent of the total area of the California natural landmark, and to which the owner of the California natural landmark agrees.

(3) The department shall notify the owner of a California natural landmark for which minor technical boundary corrections or other administrative changes in documentation are being considered. Based on the owner’s response to the notification, the department shall determine whether the proposed change is a minor technical correction to landmark documentation that can be made administratively.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5870.
  

(a) The department shall rescind a California natural landmark designation if one or more of the following circumstances apply:

(1) The owner of a California natural landmark requests the department to rescind that designation.

(2) An error in professional judgment was made in such a manner that the site did not meet the criteria for state significance at the time it was designated.

(3) The values that originally qualified the California natural landmark for designation have been significantly degraded, lost, or destroyed, as demonstrated by evidence provided to the director.

(4) Applicable designation procedures were not followed because of prejudicial procedural error.

(b) (1) An owner of a California natural landmark may initiate rescission of the designation by submitting to the director a request for rescission of designation, stating the reason therefor. Upon a determination that the request is complete, the designation shall either be rescinded pursuant to the procedures of this section or, if the landmark has other owners as well, its boundaries shall be amended pursuant to Section 5869 and this section to exclude the owner’s land.

(2) Within 60 days of receiving a rescission request, the director shall notify the person who submitted the request of whether the department considers the documentation sufficient to consider rescission of California natural landmark designation, or whether the boundaries will be amended to exclude the owner’s land.

(c) The department shall review the information outlining the grounds for rescission of California natural landmark status. When the department determines it is necessary, an onsite evaluation of the area may be made, using the procedure described in Sections 5863 and 5864. Based on all available information, the department shall determine whether the California natural landmark no longer merits that designation.

(d) (1) If the department determines that a California natural landmark no longer merits that designation, the department shall notify the owner and interested parties specified in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 5865.

(2) (A) The owner and other interested parties notified pursuant to paragraph (1) may comment within 60 days of the date of the notice.

(B) The director shall consider all comments received pursuant to subdivision (A) in the review and decision to rescind California natural landmark designation.

(e) The director shall review the information about a recommended rescission of the California natural landmark designation and determine whether the procedural requirements of this section have been met. If the director confirms that those requirements have been met and that one or more of the circumstances specified in subdivision (a) apply, he or she shall rescind the designation and remove the property from the California Registry of Natural Landmarks. Any property from which designation as a California natural landmark is rescinded because of prejudicial procedural error described in paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) continues to meet the criteria for state significance.

(f) If a California natural landmark is removed from the California Registry of Natural Landmarks, the department shall notify in writing the owner of the landmark and interested parties specified in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (c) of Section 5865. The department may reclaim a California natural landmark plaque when a landmark is removed from the California Registry of Natural Landmarks.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5871.
  

(a) The department may enter into a contract or other type of agreement with another state agency, federal agency, local agency, private organization, owner, Native American tribal government, or other interested individual or group, to assist in administering the California Natural Landmarks Program. The contract or agreement may include, but is not limited to, provisions about identification, evaluation, or monitoring a California natural landmark. However, any contract or agreement shall not authorize an entity, other than the department, to administer the provisions of this act with respect to an individual natural landmark, without the consent of the owner of the property included within the landmark.

(b) The department may conduct educational and scientific activities to disseminate information on California natural landmarks, the California Natural Landmarks Program, and benefits derived from systematic surveys of significant natural features, to the general public, interested local, state, and federal agencies, and private groups. The department may restrict information on ecologically or geologically fragile or sensitive areas, if release of that information may endanger or harm the sensitive resources.

(c) The owner of a designated California natural landmark may disseminate information about the property’s status as a natural landmark in educational and other potential materials.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5872.
  

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in order to facilitate the cost-effective use of the program with respect to interpretive activities for its own lands, the department may develop and adopt streamlined and expedited procedures for designating property that it owns as a California natural landmark.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5873.
  

(a) Designation of an area as a California natural landmark shall not constitute a change in the environment, as defined by Section 21060.5, and designation of an area as a California natural landmark is not a project pursuant to Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000).

(b) An action by the director or the department pursuant to this chapter modifying or rescinding the designation of a California natural landmark shall be exempt from the requirements of Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000).

(c) If the designation of an area as a natural landmark is referenced or referred to in a document prepared pursuant to Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) for a project in or near a designated area, the designation shall not be considered part of the environment pursuant to Section 21060.5, or in evaluating the “significant effect on the environment” of that project pursuant to Section 21068.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 827, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

PRCPublic Resources Code - PRC