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California Department of Fish and Wildlife
It Is Not Fulfilling Its Responsibilities Under the California Environmental Quality Act

Report Number: 2018-119

Selected Terms and Abbreviations Used in This Report

CEQA California Environmental Quality Act.
CEQA document A document—either an environmental impact report, negative declaration, or mitigated negative declaration—that a public agency prepares to comply with CEQA.
CESA California Endangered Species Act.
Draft review period The time period within which state agencies may review and comment on draft CEQA documents.
Environmental impact report A document describing and analyzing a proposed project’s likely significant environmental effects. It lists ways in which the project applicant might mitigate significant effects and indicates alternatives to the project.
Environmental scientist Department staff who review CEQA documents and permit applications. These scientists are located at the department’s regional offices and state headquarters.
Exemption Statutory or categorical criteria that define projects that are not subject to CEQA.
Final phase The CEQA review phase during which the lead agency certifies or adopts its CEQA document.
LSA Lake and Streambed Alteration.
LSA agreement A permit the department issues that details mitigation measures to protect lake and streambed habitats. LSA agreements are necessary for projects that substantially impact a body of water.
Lead agency The agency that is primarily responsible for carrying out or approving a project. A lead agency prepares or contracts for the preparation of CEQA documents, which it must also certify. Typically, a local government agency, such as a city or county, acts as a lead agency.
Negative declaration A document stating why a project will not significantly affect the environment. When the project will not significantly affect the environment as a result of mitigation measures the project applicant incorporated into the project, the document is called a mitigated negative declaration.
Notice of determination A notice that a lead agency sends to inform the public and responsible agencies that it has approved or decided to carry out a project and has certified or adopted a CEQA document.
Notice of preparation A notice that a lead agency sends during the preliminary phase of CEQA review to inform responsible and trustee agencies that it will be preparing an environmental impact report for a project.
Operation of law A term that the department uses to describe projects that proceed without LSA agreements because of the department’s failure to draft an agreement within the 60‑day time period outlined in state law.
Preliminary phase The CEQA review phase prior to the lead agency preparing a draft CEQA document. During this phase, the lead agency consults with responsible agencies on the type of CEQA document to prepare for a project.
Project applicant The party that proposes a project for lead and responsible agency approval.
Responsible agency An agency that helps the lead agency prepare adequate CEQA documents through consulting with the lead agency and commenting on draft CEQA documents. An agency is a responsible agency if it has authority to approve an aspect of a project by, for example, issuing a permit. A state or local agency may act as a responsible agency. A single project may have more than one responsible agency.
Trustee agency A state agency that helps the lead agency prepare adequate CEQA documents for projects that affect resources within that state agency’s jurisdiction. The department is one of four public agencies specified in state regulations as a trustee agency.