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California's Endangered Species Act Listing Process
The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) (Fish and Game Code Sections 2050-2116) sets forth procedures by which individuals, organizations, or the Department can submit petitions to the Fish and Game Commission requesting that a species, subspecies, or variety of plant or animal be added to, deleted from, or changed in status on the State lists of rare, threatened or endangered species. The factors that contribute to determining the need to list a species include the present or threatened modification or destruction of habitat, competition, predation, disease, overexploitation by collectors, or other natural occurrences or human-related activities. Lists of rare, threatened, and endangered plants and animals can be found on the Department's web site.
Procedures governing the submission and review of petitions for listing, uplisting, downlisting, and delisting of endangered and threatened species of plants and animals are described in Section 670.1, Title 14, California Code of Regulations. The petition format is available from the Fish and Game Commission.
The Habitat Conservation Planning Branch (HCPB) staff coordinates the Department's evaluation of petitions submitted to the Fish and Game Commission for mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, freshwater nongame fishes, invertebrates, and plants. The evaluation process includes scheduling the review process and coordinating with the Commission on deadlines, requesting review and input from Regions, evaluating the petition and all other relevant information, conducting a site visit, consulting with the petitioner, USFWS, and other agencies, organizations, and persons with relevant knowledge and expertise, and coordinating the preparation of a written evaluation report. The written report to the Commission contains the Department's recommendation on whether or not the petition contains sufficient scientific information to indicate that the petitioned action may be warranted. Within 90 days of receipt of a petition, HCPB forwards the report to the Director for signature. HCPB coordinates preparation of and provides Department testimony at the Fish and Game Commission meeting where candidacy is considered.
If the petition is accepted and the species becomes a candidate species, HCPB commences coordinating review of the status of the species. Within 10 months the HCPB submits for the Director's review and approval a written report to the Commission. The recommendation from the Director to the Commission is transmitted within the 12-month review period and the recommendation is based on the best scientific information available to the Department, which indicates whether or not the petitioned action is warranted.
During the 12-month review period, HCPB staff notifies all parties affected by or interested in the proposal for listing (Fish and Game Code Section 2074.4). This is done through correspondence, press releases, and public notices for publication in local newspapers.
HCPB staff solicits comments and data on the candidate species, and seeks independent and competent peer review of the Department status report. The HCPB coordinates preparation of and provides Department testimony at the Fish and Game Commission meeting where final consideration of the petition is scheduled.
The Region may take the lead in evaluating the petition and preparing the Department 12-month status report on a candidate species when a species petitioned for listing occurs wholly or mostly within one Department Region. The Deputy Director, Habitat Conservation Division, will determine if a region will take the lead in these situations. For species occurring in several regions, region staff will provide input to HCPB in formulating the evaluation and report. Regional responsibilities include preparing and providing testimony at the scheduled Fish and Game Commission hearings on the petitioned action both for candidacy and final listing decisions.