WRA to Sponsor and Present at the CARCD Annual Conference

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WRA is proud to sponsor the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) 78th annual conference December 13-15, 2023 at the DoubleTree Hilton, Sacramento. This year’s theme is “Growing Together to Meet the Moment”. The CARCD continues the tradition of bringing together representatives from federal and state agencies, non-profits, private industries, farming communities, and resource conservation districts (RCDs) to share knowledge, build partnerships, and address urgent natural resource challenges. Experts will present and engage in conversations on climate-smart agriculture, the tree mortality crisis, community fire resilience, sustainable groundwater management, watershed health, social equity in conservation, and wildlife preservation.

WRA Restoration Permitting Specialist Erik Schmidt will present, “20 Years of Progress in California: Advances in State and Federal Permitting and CEQA Review for Habitat Restoration and Multi-benefit Projects” on December 14 from 1:15-1:35 pm. WRA Senior Community Resilience Planner Molly Curley O’Brien will also attend the event.


Beginning in 2002 with a state report, 20 years of efforts have been made in California to address permitting challenges that impede work to restore fish and wildlife habitat and healthy ecosystems, and recover imperiled species populations. In recent years, leaders of state and federal agencies have collaborated to break new ground in developing innovative regulatory tools that represent a sea change in the permitting and environmental review of beneficial projects. The state’s Cutting Green Tape Initiative has ensured the completion of crucial statewide programmatic permits and exemptions, while the Governor and legislature have provided funding and staff for efficient, coordinated review and approval of restoration and multi-benefit projects. Federal regulatory agencies implementing the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act – US Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries and the Army Corps Regulatory Division – have partnered to create broad, far-reaching biological opinions that set a new standard for ensuring swift yet effective permitting oversight of habitat projects. Together, with the support of restoration proponents throughout the state, agencies have shifted the regulatory role from limiting restoration to accelerating it, providing project proponents with clear design guidance and general and species protection measures to ensure appropriate usage. Project examples are presented to highlight successful use of these regulatory processes.