Accelerating Environmental Restoration

Attendees plant native high marsh grasses, during the Volunteer Planting Day hosted by The California Department of Water Resources at the Dutch Slough Tidal Habitat Restoration Project, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta near Oakley, California.<br />Californians cherish our natural environment. Our lands and waters inspire us, provide for our recreation, and sustain one of the richest varieties of plants and animals on earth. But we face major challenges, including climate change, biodiversity loss and inequity that demand we move faster to conserve our natural environment.

Early on as Secretary, I shared that one of my key priorities is our Cutting Green Tape initiative to increase the pace and scale of environmental restoration. Given all the challenges we face, we must increase the pace and scale of environmental action. Our state is known for strong laws that protect the environment from the effects of development and resource extraction. However, these very same policies designed to protect our natural resources can unintentionally slow down beneficial projects that restore essential habitat and imperiled ecosystems.

With all of this in mind, early last year I asked the California Landscape Stewardship Network (CLSN) to partner with our agency and host roundtables to explore strategies to deliver restoration projects more quickly and cost-effectively. Building on existing state efforts on this front, the inclusive process brought practitioners from across the state together to flesh out ideas to improve our collective efforts. This collaboration ultimately yielded 14 specific recommendations described in a new report: Cutting Green Tape: Regulatory Efficiencies for a Resilient Environment.

The recommendations focus on efficiencies for small-scale projects, larger-scAttendees examine graphics on The Dutch Slough Tidal Restoration Project at the Groundbreaking of the project at a stretch of land just east of Oakley, California in Contra Costa County.<br /> The Department of Water Resources (DWR), along with state and local partners, today celebrated the groundbreaking of the Delta’s largest tidal wetlands restoration project. The Dutch Slough Tidal Restoration Project will re-establish a rich ecological network that will boost survival rates of endangered fish and wildlife while also protecting neighborhoods against flooding, Photo taken October 17, 2018.<br /> Ken James / California Department of Water Resources, FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLYale projects and restoration in the coastal zone. They also identify efficiencies for projects to enhance streamflow and recharge groundwater and ways to simplify permit applications.

Our Agency is excited to have these recommendations in hand and is moving to take action on several fronts to expedite beneficial environmental conservation and restoration projects.

Our Natural Resources Agency will continue to collaborate with CLSN, our sister agencies, and groups and leaders across the state to advance this work. As we implement Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent executive order to advance nature based solutions to climate change and other pressing challenges, continuing to improve our delivery of important environmental projects has never been more important—or more promising.