Erik Schmidt

Regulatory Permitting Specialist


Erik Schmidt is a Regulatory Permitting Specialist with WRA, Inc. He brings 20 years of conservation experience and specialized knowledge of programmatic and project-specific regulatory permitting for ecological restoration, primarily in aquatic and riparian habitats, throughout California. He earned an MA degree in Public and Environmental Policy from the University of Colorado, Boulder and was a John Knauss National Sea Grant Fellow in Washington, DC following his graduate work.

With the nonprofit organization Sustainable Conservation, Erik spent nearly 12 years working closely with restoration proponents in all regions of the state, and with federal and state agencies, including NOAA Fisheries (NMFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), California Coastal Commission, and State and Regional Water Boards. This innovative collaboration model led to the development of numerous advanced approvals for restoration and multi-benefit projects, four NMFS programmatic Section 7 biological opinions, a Coastal Commission federal consistency determination approval for the state’s entire Coastal Zone, and a new CDFW permit process: the Habitat Restoration and Enhancement (HRE) Act. Earlier, Erik spent four years with NOAA Fisheries, completing Sec. 7 consultations for projects affecting anadromous salmonids in watersheds of the San Francisco Bay Area. Erik’s experience in finding common ground among diverse stakeholders and vision of what can be achieved through collaboration guide his approach to developing regulatory approvals and helping project applicants successfully plan, design and implement projects.


Salmonid Restoration Federation Annual Conference, Fortuna, California, 2018
Improving Restoration Permitting: A New Multi-agency Initiative to Advance Projects Statewide

California Society for Ecological Restoration Annual Conference, Tahoe City, California, 2016
Improving Permitting and Funding for Voluntary Restoration Projects

Salmonid Restoration Federation Steelhead Summit, San Luis Obispo, California, 2016
Accelerating Steelhead Recovery Projects with Programmatic Permitting: Planning for Successful Use of New Federal and State Approvals for Restoration

California Association of Resource Conservation Districts Annual Conference, 2011-2014
Planning for and Successfully Using Programmatic Permits for Beneficial Projects


Proposal for USFWS Statewide Programmatic Sec. 7 Consultation for Aquatic Habitat Restoration Projects, California

NOAA Restoration Center-California Coastal Commission Federal Consistency Determination, California

NOAA Restoration Center-California Coastal Commission Federal Consistency Determination Example Project: Green Gulch Creek Stream and Habitat Restoration, Green Gulch Zen Center, Marin County, California

Biological Assessment for Funding and Permitting Restoration Projects within Watersheds of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties, California

Upper Carpinteria Creek Fish Passage Project, South Coast Habitat Restoration, Santa Barbara County, California


MA, Public and Environmental Policy, University of Colorado, Boulder

BA, Cultural Anthropology, University of California, San Diego


Salmonid Restoration Federation (SRF)

California Society for Ecological Restoration (SERCAL)