Simplifying the Permitting Process to Accelerate Habitat Restoration

California’s waterways are in trouble: over 90% of our riparian forests are gone, two-thirds of assessed waterways are polluted, and ten species of salmon and steelhead – which depend on stream habitat – are listed as threatened or endangered, some not far from extinction. The good news is that we can do a lot to restore these damaged habitats. Sustainable Conservation is working to simplify permit requirements for restoration projects, so California landowners can become part of the solution.

Increased Restoration through Simplified Permitting


Simplified permitting accelerates habitat restoration across California, boosting clean water and wildlife.

Sustainable Conservation works with state and federal agencies to develop simplified approaches for permitting restoration projects. Preparing pre-written or “programmatic” permits that apply to a variety of restoration projects to restore streams, rebuild habitat and reduce soil erosion, allows this work to proceed faster – without sacrificing environmental protection.

Sustainable Conservation started our efforts more than two decades ago because we saw the vital role individuals and community organizations play in protecting California’s natural resources. Originally a county-by-county program, our successes led us to scale up to the regional and state level to benefit restoration proponents across California.

A Resource for Restoration Practitioners, Agencies

In addition to our successful track record of scaling the reach and impact of our simplified restoration permitting in partnership with natural resource agencies, Sustainable Conservation serves as a go-to resource for outreach and education on implementing these permits statewide.

Successful application submissions and approvals boost vital restoration in California, and growing agency support will ensure the long-term success and sustainability of the programs and restoration work made possible by the improved permit processes. Agency staff see the value of these processes to achieving their overarching missions and the state’s environmental goals.

Sustainable Conservation also promotes programs that provide technical and funding assistance from government and local partners, so restoration partners can get projects planned, designed and completed more efficiently and at lower cost.

Initiatives under Our Simplified Permitting Program

  • Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Act: Accelerating use of simplified approval by DFW for restoration projects (thumbnail photo and link to HRE page)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries: Partnering with this federal agency to develop a simplified authorization for critically needed restoration projects in the Central Valley, through the watersheds of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and the Delta region. Expected to be complete in 2018.




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