[CDFW] – The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released the Final Additional Environmental Analysis and re-approved the Newhall Ranch Resource Management and Development Plan and Spineflower Conservation Plan.
CDFW approved the project originally in December 2010 after preparing and certifying an environmental impact report. In 2015, the California Supreme Court identified two issues in need of further attention by CDFW. The court first directed CDFW to revisit its 2010 determination that the project’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would not be significant under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). And second, that two mitigation measures approved by CDFW authorizing collection and relocation of unarmored three spine stickleback, a native fish protected under state and federal law, violated protections afforded the species because it is designated as “fully protected” under the Fish and Game Code.
After that Supreme Court decision, the project proponent, The Newhall Land and Farming Company, proposed modifications to respond to the two issues. Additional environmental analysis for the revised project was released for public review in November 2016.
CDFW’s decision to certify the Final AEA and re-approve the project today follows a public review effort analyzing and disclosing the potential environmental effects associated with the proposed modifications. With respect to the project’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Newhall Land has developed a suite of 13 measures in a detailed reduction plan to achieve “Net Zero Emissions” for the project, thereby offsetting 100 percent of the project’s GHG emissions. Additionally, the California Air Resources Board reviewed the revised project and concluded that there is an adequate basis to determine it does not result in any net additional GHG emissions.
As to two mitigation measures originally approved by CDFW in 2010 to protect the unarmored three spine stickleback, Newhall Land has proposed modifications to the timing and construction methods for project bridges and bank stabilization infrastructure that will avoid all water contact during the construction of those facilities. These changes eliminate the need for the two stickleback protection measures originally approved by CDFW in 2010.
CDFW today certified the Final AEA with those two issues resolved and re-approved the project plan. This development will be the largest net zero GHG emissions project in the nation.