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SB-790 Wildlife connectivity mitigation credits.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 05/20/2021 09:00 PM
SB790:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  May 20, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  April 14, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  March 22, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 790


Introduced by Senators Stern and Cortese
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Friedman)
(Coauthor: Senator Archuleta)
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Bloom)

February 19, 2021


An act to add Chapter 13 (commencing with Section 1950) to Division 2 of the Fish and Game Code, relating to fish and wildlife.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 790, as amended, Stern. Wildlife connectivity mitigation credits.
Existing law vests the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) with jurisdiction over the conservation, protection, and management of fish, wildlife, native plants, and habitat necessary for biologically sustainable populations of those species. Existing law vests the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) with full possession and control of the state highway system.
This bill would require DFW, in consultation with Caltrans, to provide compensatory mitigation credits to support modifications and planning of projects on the state highway system that improve local and regional habitat connectivity and result in fish passage, wildlife connectivity, and other environmental improvements. The bill would prohibit, in each fiscal year, DFW from providing compensatory mitigation credits for more than 10 new projects, as described above, or for more than 2 of those projects in each region. The bill would authorize Caltrans to request DFW to issue credits for actions that Caltrans takes to improve fish and wildlife connectivity in connection with a project on the state highway system in excess of any legally required mitigation. The bill would authorize Caltrans to use those credits to satisfy obligations to mitigate the impacts of projects on the state highway system on fish and wildlife in the same Caltrans district.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) California’s climate is changing. Rising temperatures, increases in the frequency and severity of extreme events like drought and wildfire, changing ocean conditions, and shifts in precipitation patterns all pose threats to California’s plants and animals.
(b) These extreme changes alter the temperature ranges in which species thrive and survive, causing stress to plants and animals. This creates a series of cascading effects like altering predator-prey relationships, causing fluctuations in food and water supplies, and exacerbating human-caused stressors like contaminants and habitat loss.
(c) Land use has been changing as the state’s population continues to grow. Development decisions sometimes result in the conversion of grasslands, rangelands, and other natural lands and working lands to urban uses. This destroys natural habitats and corridors necessary for migration of species, which are even more important under changing climate conditions.
(d) As regional weather patterns and habitat continue to shift due to climate change, wildlife populations will likely require new foraging, breeding, and sheltering locations. Connectivity between existing core habitat areas and those required to support future wildlife populations will be crucial to allow safe migration of species between protected areas as climate patterns shift.
(e) The report prepared by the Transportation Permitting Task Force pursuant to Section 155.7 of the Streets and Highways Code makes the recommendation that agencies should establish a crediting framework for projects that result in fish passage and wildlife connectivity.
(f) Wildlife corridors and connected habitat are necessary to help native species like mountain lions, bobcats, porcupines, badgers, and deer, as well as birds, fish, insects, reptiles, and amphibian species that suffer from increasingly fragmented habitats, to maintain healthy populations, support genetic diversity, and protect wildlife from lands or infrastructure where they have the potential to face negative human-wildlife interactions or cause traffic collisions.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 13 (commencing with Section 1950) is added to Division 2 of the Fish and Game Code, to read:
CHAPTER  13. Wildlife Connectivity Mitigation Credits

1950.
 For purposes of this chapter, the following terms apply:
(a) “Region” means a Department of Transportation district.
(b) “Transportation project” means a project to construct or improve a portion of the state highway system.

1951.
 (a) (1) The Department of Fish and Wildlife, in consultation with the Department of Transportation, shall provide compensatory mitigation credits to support modifications and planning of transportation projects that improve local and regional habitat connectivity and result in fish passage, wildlife connectivity, and other environmental improvements. These environmental improvements may include, but are not limited to, all of the following:
(A) An overpass or underpass.
(B) Vegetation management.
(C) Directional fencing.
(D) Barrier modification.
(2) In each fiscal year, the Department of Fish and Wildlife shall not provide compensatory mitigation credits for more than 10 new transportation projects that improve local and regional habitat connectivity and result in fish passage, wildlife connectivity, and other environmental improvements, as described in paragraph (1), or for more than two of those projects in each region.

(2)

(3) In determining the value of compensatory mitigation credits for actions undertaken by the Department of Transportation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife shall consider all of the following:
(A) The impact on the ability of wildlife to access the opposite side of the roadway, including the length of the barrier, the distance of roadway until the next wildlife crossing, and the number of lanes that wildlife would need to cross.
(B) The value of the habitat on the opposite side of the roadway, including impacts on genetic diversity, wildlife migration, and access to additional latitudes and altitudes of habitat to adapt to climate change.
(C) The impact on critical terrestrial habitat linkages, including, but not limited to, the Santa Monica Mountains, Mountains and Rim of the Valley Corridor, Santa Ana Mountains, San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains, Santa Cruz Mountains, and the Gabilan Mountain Range.
(D) Topography, watercourse presence, vegetative cover, mortality data, or other factors that increase the likelihood of use, or value of, a particular location for connectivity.
(b) In determining the value of the compensatory mitigation credits under this section, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Transportation may consult with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
(c) If the Department of Transportation takes actions to improve fish and wildlife connectivity in connection with a transportation project, the Department of Transportation may request that the Department of Fish and Wildlife issue credits for any action that the Department of Transportation completed completes in excess of any legally required mitigation. The Department of Fish and Wildlife shall issue the credits to the Department of Transportation in accordance with the requirements of this chapter.
(d) The Department of Fish and Wildlife, for purposes of implementing this section, may develop an in-lieu fee program.
(e) The Department of Transportation may use compensatory mitigation credits issued pursuant to subdivision (c) to satisfy obligations to mitigate the impacts of transportation projects on fish and wildlife required by any of the following laws:
(1) The California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code).
(2) The California Endangered Species Act (Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 2050) of Division 3).
(3) The Lake and Streambed Alteration Program established pursuant to Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 1600).
(f) The Department of Transportation may only use compensatory mitigation credits issued pursuant to subdivision (c) within the same region in which the credits were issued.