Nonpoint Source (NPS) Pollution Control Program – Vegetation Treatment General Order

Overview

Under Executive Order B-52-18, former Governor Jerry Brown set a goal of treating 500,000 acres of vegetation per year to reduce wildfire risk. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and other local, state, and federal agencies are increasing the pace and scale of vegetation treatment throughout California to meet that goal. The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) is developing a statewide water quality order for vegetation treatment activities (proposed Vegetation Treatment General Order) to ensure vegetation treatments are conducted in a way that is protective of water quality.  The proposed Vegetation Treatment General Order would require project proponents to follow the California Vegetation Treatment Program (CalVTP) developed by the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (BOF).

 The CalVTP streamlines California Environmental Quality Act compliance for vegetation treatment projects conducted within the State Responsibility Area, guiding project proponents in identifying and implementing mitigation measures and practices to reduce environmental impacts, including impacts to water quality.  See below for links to the CalVTP Programmatic Environmental Impact Report as well as to a map viewer that shows the location of proposed vegetation treatment projects. Vegetation treatment types described in the CalVTP include fuels reduction in the wildland-urban interface, fuel breaks, and ecological restoration of the landscape to reflect historic vegetative composition and structure more representative of a natural fire regime. Vegetation treatment activities described in the CalVTP include:

  • Prescribed pile burning and broadcast burning,
  • Mechanical treatment to cut, uproot, crush/compact, or chop existing vegetation,
  • Manual treatment to cut, clear, or prune herbaceous or woody species,
  • Prescribed herbivory to reduce target plant populations,
  • Ground-level application of herbicides, and
  • Maintenance of vegetation treatment activities.

Goals of the Vegetation Treatment General Order:

  • Maintain and protect water quality from vegetation treatment activities.
  • Support increased pace and scale of vegetation treatment to reduce wildfire risk in California.
  • Streamline permitting requirements for vegetation treatment activities conducted in accordance with BOF CalVTP Programmatic Environmental Impact Report, certified in December 2019.

Board of Forestry CalVTP Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR)

The Board of Forestry has prepared a Final Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR), which evaluates the environmental impacts of the CalVTP in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Board of Forestry certified the Final PEIR and approved the CalVTP on December 30, 2019.

Public Outreach

A draft of the proposed Vegetation Treatment General Order and the public notice for comment are available below.

Written comments will be accepted through April 20. Please include the following in the subject line:“Comments - General Order for Vegetation Treatment Program” and submit written comments to:

Jeanine Townsend, Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
P.O. Box 100, Sacramento, CA 95812-2000 (mail)

Comment letters may be submitted electronically, in pdf text format (if less than 15 megabytes in total size), to the Clerk to the Board via e-mail at commentletters@waterboards.ca.gov. If the file is greater than 15 megabytes in total size, then the comment letter may be submitted by fax at (916) 341-5620, mail to the address listed above, or by hand delivery. Couriers delivering hard copies of comment letters must check in with lobby security personnel, who can contact Ms. Townsend at (916) 341-5600.

Workshop

A Staff Workshop was held March 30, 2021 for outreach and education of stakeholders and the public.

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