Sunday, August 14, 2011

Federal and State Agencies Announce Schedule for Bay Delta Conservation Plan Environmental Review and Effects Analysis

On August 11, 2011, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the California Natural Resources Agency announced an agreed-upon schedule for completing an effects analysis and a combined environmental impact statement/environmental impact report as part of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.  That review is to be completed by June 2012.  The agencies also agreed upon a suite of alternatives for evaluation in identifying a proposed project.

“This is an aggressive schedule that will allow us to move clearly forward with BDCP and take the guess work out of next steps,” said California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird.  “Meeting the dual goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability demand a deep commitment from all parties involved.”

The schedule outlined at the August 11 public meeting targets May 2012 for release of the draft BDCP for public review and a June 2012 release of a draft EIR/EIS for public review.  The final BDCP is scheduled to be released in December 2012, followed by a February 2013 record of decision/notice of determination for the EIR/EIS.  The suite of alternatives to be evaluated vary in terms of the amount of acreage designated for habitat restoration and protection and the means of water conveyance.

The BDCP is a conservation plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and is being developed pursuant to the federal Endangered Species Act and California Natural Communities Conservation Planning Act.  The BDCP is intended to help meet California’s co-equal goals for Delta management: water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration.  The public draft BDCP will include a set of actions to redesign and re-operate state and federal water projects in the Delta; restore native fish, wildlife, and plant habitat; and address other ecological stressors in the Delta such as invasive plant species, barriers to fish migration, and predation of native fish.  As a conservation plan, the BDCP is subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act.

For more information concerning this topic, please contact K. Eric Adair from our office, or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

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