On January 1, 2022, Senate Bill 790 was added to California Fish and Game code (FGC §1955-1958) which enables California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to approve compensatory mitigation credits for wildlife connectivity actions. CDFW has, therefore, been tasked to develop the guidelines for how to implement this innovative approach to mitigation.
Wildlife connectivity actions, such as road overpasses and underpasses, measurably improve aquatic or terrestrial connectivity. CDFW’s guidelines will outline considerations for determining compensatory mitigation credits for wildlife connectivity actions for CDFW’s Conservation and Mitigation Banking and Mitigation Credit Agreement (MCA) programs. These programs provide advance mitigation credits that can be applied for compensatory mitigation to fulfill requirements from local, state and federal environmental laws, including California Endangered Species Act (CESA), California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Lake and Streambed Alteration (LSA) Agreements, and as applicable local, state, or federal regulations.
Often advance mitigation species and habitat credits are determined by acreage, a 1-acre mitigation: 1-acre impact ratio. However, the value of a wildlife connectivity action can be much higher than the small strip of land it encompasses. Therefore, credit amounts for the relatively small acreage of an over or under pass need greater consideration and value based on the project’s ecological benefit to the larger landscape on a project-by-project basis. The guidelines will lay out considerations for determining this adjustment including, but not limited to, measurable improvement to habitat connectivity and wildlife migration, value of the habitat connected, enhanced, and preserved, and benefits to connected species.
CDFW will work collaboratively to create guidelines to aid conservation and mitigation bank and MCA sponsors to develop these projects, as well as, to aid CDFW statewide staff review of these proposals. Our presentation will share the latest version of our guidelines, or at a minimum, the latest considerations for determining advance mitigation credits for wildlife connectivity actions.