Joint Policies

California State Board of Forestry and the California Fish and Game Commission Policy:

Joint Policy Statement on Pacific Salmon and Anadromous Trout


The Fish and Game Commission (Commission) and the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (Board) find:

  1. That the four species of Pacific salmon and anadromous trout found in California streams: Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), anadromous rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) (commonly known as steelhead), and anadromous coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) (herein jointly referred to as salmonids) are vitally important ecological and economic resources in California.
  2. That there is considerable scientific, commercial, and public concern over the decline of salmonids in California. Several actions have been taken by the State and the Federal government to provide legal protective status for salmonids. Under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), the Commission has listed runs of Chinook salmon and coho salmon, while under the Federal Endangered Species Act ( ESA ) the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has listed runs of Chinook salmon, coho salmon and stocks of anadromous rainbow trout (Appendix 1).
  3. That forestry practices interact with watershed and riparian processes and can positively or negatively affect upstream and downstream freshwater habitat for salmonids. Properly implemented forestry practices can reduce the risk of catastrophic fires that impact water quality and other habitat elements important to salmonids. Sound forestry practices can help maintain and restore the riparian functions that are linked to salmonid habitats. This Joint Policy encourages positive forest management practices, particularly those associated with roads, unstable areas, and riparian areas, that protect salmonid habitat by: 1) reducing stream temperatures; 2) reducing sediment levels in streams; 3) enhancing composition and abundance of fish species and aquatic macroinvertebrates; 4) stabilizing stream banks and streamside areas; 5) increasing instream structural complexity; 6) increasing large woody debris recruitment; and 7) increasing base flows in streams.
  4. That strong pressures for parcelization, fragmentation, and land use conversion exist. The loss of forestland to other uses can degrade habitat. The retention and active management of forested lands in a manner compatible with the freshwater life histories of salmonids is vital to maintaining salmonid habitat that is in good condition and to restoring degraded habitat. Retention of viable, working forest landscapes is therefore essential to salmonids.
  5. That this Joint Policy is intended to focus on the recovery, conservation, preservation, and restoration of salmonid populations and their habitats by the Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (departments) utilizing their respective authorities in the implementation of watershed-based forest management actions.
  6. The Joint Policy emphasizes that these species are in great peril and that forest management practices based on sound science and coupled with other federal and state programs have the potential to assist in their recovery.
  7. That adequate staffing and funding are necessary to implement the actions of this Joint Policy. The Commission and the Board, along with their respective departments, will seek appropriate funding for the implementation of the actions identified in this Joint Policy. Given the uncertainty for consistent staffing and funding, efficient regulatory systems must be developed that address environmental protection and overlapping review. Funding priority will be given to programmatic, watershed-scale restoration activities to provide the greatest benefit to salmonids on forested lands.

Therefore, the Commission and the Board establish these goals:

  • to recover salmonid populations to meet delisting standards,
  • maintain and restore watersheds,
  • retain managed working forests on timberlands,
  • encourage watershed-scale programmatic approaches to achieve these goals,
  • and so contribute to building healthy communities.


The Commission and Board adopt the following Joint Policy for the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) (herein jointly referred to as departments):

  1. The departments will administer all programs consistent with this policy statement;
  2. The departments will report annually to the Commission and the Board: 1) progress on implementation of this policy; 2) progress on implementation of strategies to recover listed salmonids 3) the status of salmonid populations and habitat, and 4) actions to be taken in the coming year;
  3. In the event of disagreement over implementation of this policy, the departments will inform the Commission and Board of the disagreement;
  4. The departments will be guided by the understanding that it is the desire of the State of California to: 1) recover salmonid populations to viable self-sustaining levels; 2) maintain wild populations where they exist; 3) re-establish populations where feasible; 4) sustain the social, economic, and cultural uses that depend on working forest landscapes and salmonids; and 5) support actions that will lead to delisting of listed salmonids;
  5. In accordance with laws and regulations protecting listed species, the departments will use their respective authorities to ensure that any project that the departments are notified of and that may result in take of listed salmonids either avoids take or is authorized for such take;
  6. The departments will actively cooperate with each other and with other State and Federal agencies, private landowners, academic institutions and the public to facilitate and encourage feasible forest management activities which 1) implement the Recovery Strategy for California Coho Salmon, approved by the Commission in February 2004 (see Appendix 2 for timber management related recommendations); 2) implement the Steelhead Restoration and Management Plan for California, approved by DFG in 1996; 3) integrate federal recovery strategies and plans for listed or candidate anadromous species into forest management activities. Programmatic approaches to achieve these goals are encouraged;
  7. Using best available science, the departments will continue to work with the Board to assess the effectiveness of existing Forest Practice Rules and, as necessary, assist the Board in developing new forest practice regulations that avoid or mitigate adverse individual and cumulative impacts on salmonid habitat;
  8. In cooperation with other agencies and in conjunction with the Board's ongoing work with its Research and Science Committee (RSC), both the departments will review the potential effects of global climate changes on forestry-fisheries interactions and the suite of potential options and actions necessary to protect forest lands and salmonid populations;
  9. The departments will assist the Board in developing or revising existing monitoring programs for evaluating the effectiveness of adopted forest practice regulations and the effectiveness of mitigation measures for protecting and, when applicable, restoring anadromous salmonid habitat. Two such programs already receive support by the departments: the Interagency Mitigation Monitoring Program (IMMP) and the Forest Practice Rules Implementation and Effectiveness Monitoring Program (FORPRIEM) (see Appendix 3);
  10. The departments will assist the Commission and the Board in developing and implementing salmonid monitoring programs and regional watershed assessments in order to assess the status of recovery and restoration efforts. These programs will be based on scientifically sound methodologies for determining fish population attributes; habitat status and trends, and progress toward restoration and recovery. Appendix 4 contains a description of the components for monitoring and adaptive management programs that may be appropriate to consider for any forested watershed with salmonids;
  11. The departments will participate in and assist the Board’s Monitoring Study Group (MSG). This group promotes information sharing, cooperation, and trust among state agencies, the public, and the timber industry, so that 1) state agencies collect sound, scientifically-based monitoring data in an efficient and effective manner; 2) data analyses are properly undertaken; and 3) data is presented in a user-friendly fashion on a web-based server;
  12. In order to achieve the Coho Recovery Plan goals outlined in Alternative C, numbers 6, 7, 10, 16, and 17 and conserve listed salmonids and the habitats that support them, the departments will use their respective authorities to 1) continue evaluating the Forest Practice Rules and DFG regulations, using scientific research and monitoring data, in order to make recommendations for changes to regulations; 2) ensure that any project that the departments are notified of and that may result in take of listed species either avoids take or is authorized for such take in accordance with laws and regulations protecting listed species; 3) take all feasible steps for the recovery, conservation, preservation, and restoration of listed salmonid populations and their habitats; and 4) give due consideration to those actions that are identified in recovery plans;
  13. The departments will consult with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to further evaluate, and where feasible, to develop, Habitat Conservation Plan(s) for all applicable forestry practices state-wide in a timely fashion, and where forest landowners are interested, joint HCP /Natural Community Conservation plans.


In addition, the Commission specifically charges DFG as follows:

  1. Implement fisheries restoration grant programs and other restoration programs consistent with the availability of funding to implement high priority recovery activities in an efficient and effective manner. The Commission acknowledges that such grant and restoration programs cannot guarantee instream flows or "safeguard" habitat from additional damages to watershed processes stemming from past land use practices. Grant and restoration funding can help to restore past physical habitat damages and initiate plans for watershed-scale restoration activities on forested lands;
  2. Review timber harvesting plans and, where appropriate, recommend to CALFIRE: 1) measures which will either avoid, minimize or fully mitigate impacts to listed salmonids and salmonid habitat; and 2) measures that will facilitate recovery of listed salmonid populations and the habitats that support them;
  3. Provide an active liaison to the Board and CALFIRE on issues related to timber harvest, forestry practices, and fire protection for landscapes occupied by salmonids;
  4. Ensure implementation of salmonid population and habitat monitoring programs to assist in the conservation, preservation, and enhancement of these species; and
  5. Assist the Board and CALFIRE in developing monitoring programs necessary for evaluating the effectiveness of mitigation measures and forest practice rules in preventing, or minimizing adverse impacts to salmonids, and the effectiveness of measures intended to facilitate recovering and restoring salmonids in forested watersheds.


In addition, the Board specifically charges CALFIRE as follows:

  1. Address potential impacts to salmonids and anadromous trout, consistent with state and federal recovery strategies, in CALFIRE’s project review processes and consult with DFG when projects are submitted in planning watersheds containing salmonid habitats;
  2. Support a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in order for the Board to adopt permanent rules for protection of listed salmonids based upon a study of factors that significantly effect the present and future condition of timberlands (ref. PRC § 4552) and through consultation with various groups including agencies and educational institutions (ref. PRC § 4553). In collaboration with fisheries experts, the TAC will collect and evaluate scientific information and knowledge about salmonids and forest management activities in relation to protection, recovery, preservation, and conservation of listed species;
  3. Provide staff support to the Board’s Research and Science Committee (RSC), to consistently provide independent credible scientific information for Forest Practice Rule development or modification. The RSC will provide technical recommendations to the Board for monitoring projects and provide sound technical advice to the Board regarding watershed-related resource issues.
  4. Provide support to the Monitoring and Tracking Sub-Committee of the MSG. This sub-committee will collaborate with DFG and others to assist in: 1) Reviewing the effectiveness and appropriateness of monitoring being conducted on non-federal timberlands, and make recommendations for improvements. 2) Evaluating effectiveness of monitoring conducted to assess potential impacts of timber harvest operations on the beneficial uses of water related to salmonids. 3) Evaluating costs and benefits of monitoring metrics and techniques to aid the Board, timberland owners, regulatory agencies, and the public in selecting technically adequate, efficient, and effective monitoring that will ensure protection and facilitate recovery of listed salmonids.
  5. Provide support for development of risk-based approaches to cumulative watershed effects analyses. Additionally, work to improve programmatic long-term management models. Scientifically based models need to be expanded and improved to provide sound science-based reliable information that include considerations for the protection, recovery, preservation, conservation, and restoration of salmonid populations and the habitats that support them; and
  6. CALFIRE’s Fire and Resource Assessment Program will assist the Board in developing a web-based long term repository for science based monitoring information and scientific research to maintain quality control and allow for the dissemination of information to agencies and the interested public contingent upon availability of staff, funding and logistical support.
Appendix 1. State and Federal listings of salmonids in California


[Statutory Act - Geographic Range]

Status Effective Date
Coho Salmon
CESA - South of San Francisco endangered 12/31/1995
CESA - San Francisco to Punta Gorda endangered 3/30/2005
CESA - Punta Gorda to Oregon border threatened 3/30/2005
ESA - Central California Coastal endangered (threatened) 8/29/2005 (12/2/1996)
ESA - Southern Oregon ~ -Northern California Coasts threatened 6/5/1997
Chinook Salmon
CESA - Sacramento River Winter-Run endangered 9/22/1989
CESA - Sacramento River Drainage Spring-Run threatened 2/5/1999
ESA - Sacramento River Winter-Run endangered (threatened) 2/3/1994 (11/1990)
ESA - Central Valley Spring-Run threatened 11/15/1999
ESA - California Coastal threatened 11/15/1999
Anadromous Rainbow Trout (Steelhead)​
ESA - Southern California endangered 10/17/1997
ESA - South-Central California Coast threatened 10/17/1997
ESA - Central California Coast threatened 10/17/1997
ESA - Central Valley, California threatened 5/18/1998
ESA - Northern California threatened 8/7/2000


Appendix 2. Timber Management Recommendations (Excerpted from Recovery Strategy for California Coho Salmon, pages 7.15 – 7.18. DFG, February 2004)

Department as used in Appendix 2 means Department of Fish and Game

ALT -C-01 California Range-wide Coho Salmon Recovery Team (CRT) recommends government commitment of adequate financial, material, and personnel support for the life of the Recovery Strategy for on-the-ground recovery actions, identified in the Recovery Strategy. Possible funding mechanisms may include:

  1. Legislation specifically identifying funding for recovery;
  2. Cost-share programs with private landowners, stakeholder groups and local governments; and
  3. Endowment and/or grant programs cooperatively with private sources.

ALT -C-02 The Department should provide technical expertise to support appropriate cooperatively undertaken recovery actions, which may include:

  1. Technical advisors to assist in the development of restoration proposals;
  2. Technical expertise to assist in the implementation of recovery activities on-the-ground; and
  3. Technical expertise to assist in training and education on coho restoration projects.

ALT -C-03 The Department should develop and implement a program to design and implement a coho salmon recovery plan for individual CALWATER Planning Watersheds. The program should promote and enable cooperative working relationships between agencies, landowners and residents. This program should include:

  1. Federal and State funding to assist landowners in performing watershed analysis in a manner usable by the Department;
  2. A systematic evaluation at the watershed level to identify key limiting factors for the recovery of coho salmon;
  3. Identification of site-specific sources and locations of the key limiting factors;
  4. Identification of restoration projects for watershed transportation systems, fish passage, slope stabilization measures, erosion control measures and drainage structures;
  5. Identification of beneficial management practices to protect existing values; and
  6. Use of these plans and the data that support them as the principle reference document, which would save landowners and/or project proponents additional costs associated with repetitive analysis and paperwork for each project.

ALT -C-04 The Department should develop an information repository system for individual Planning Watersheds that utilizes and builds upon existing information, adding new information as it becomes available, while ensuring adequate confidentiality for information specifically pertaining to an individual’s private property.

ALT -C-05 The Department should promote and support programmatic approaches to address key limiting factors in each CALWATER Planning Watershed with a watershed plan. Include these components:

  1. Where appropriate and where costs to landowners are offset by monetary assistance, technical assistance or regulatory incentives, encourage landowners to develop and implement Road Management Plans that contribute to the restoration of coho salmon habitat;
  2. Where appropriate and where the costs to landowners are offset by incentives, encourage the use of a licensed engineer to assist in the design and construction of watercourse crossings;
  3. Continuing education and training (classroom and field) to ensure watercourse crossings are appropriately designed, constructed and maintained;
  4. Cooperative habitat restoration projects that extend across ownerships to address habitat restoration efforts in a coordinated and cost effective manner; and
  5. State funding to assist landowners to implement coordinated watershed riparian vegetation improvement programs that:
    1. Identify areas within the riparian zone where planting of riparian vegetation, including conifers, to improve coho salmon habitat is appropriate and
    2. Promote vegetation modification (e.g., thinning, removal of undesired competitive vegetation) to accelerate riparian vegetation recovery and enhancement for coho salmon habitat.

ALT -C-06 The Department should set up a long term monitoring system that measures the implementation and effectiveness of Forest Practice Rules in effect at the time of the monitoring. The monitoring shall measure the effectiveness of the rules for maintenance and recovery of coho salmon habitat.

ALT -C-07 Encourage California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) and California Geological Survey in concert with the Board of Forestry (through the Monitoring Study Group) to develop a monitoring program to evaluate whether mitigation measures implemented by Registered Professional Foresters as part of Timber Harvest Plans (THPs) are effectively reducing the risk of mass soil movement associated with harvesting operations, including road and landing construction. Any monitoring system should be designed to compare harvested areas to non-harvested areas so it can be determined whether harvesting, road and landing construction activities increase the likelihood of mass soil movement. The THP work completion report and the Monitoring Study Group’s Hillslope Monitoring Program, as well as periodic air photo flights and photo interpretation, could provide the basis for monitoring and evaluation.

ALT -C-08 CDF document voluntary efforts taken by forest landowners beneficial to coho salmon that:

  1. Provide mitigation measures that exceed FPRs requirements; and/or
  2. Are identified in specific CALWATER Watershed Recovery Plans.

ALT -C-09 The Department should develop a system to evaluate implementation and effectiveness of voluntary efforts to recover coho salmon populations.

ALT -C-10 The Department should develop, with appropriate peer review, a long-term consolidation and analysis of resource assessments and monitoring data.

ALT -C-11 The Department should collaborate with CDF and appropriate industry groups to provide watercourse training and roads assessment watershed academy.

ALT -C-12 Acquire conservation easements or land in fee title from willing landowners to protect coho salmon habitat.

ALT -C-13 The Department should seek funding for staff to improve effectiveness of the Department timberland conservation program.

ALT -C-14 Continue participation in full review of THPs and participation and other timberland conservation activities associated with managing timberlands.

ALT -C-15 In watersheds with coho salmon, the Department will prepare a “coho salmon biological assessment” when acting as a Lead or Responsible agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for timberland conservation activities, including but not limited to the review of timber harvesting plans. A “coho salmon biological assessment” is an assessment by the Department of project effects, if any, on coho salmon. The biological assessment will include conclusions by the Department regarding potential for the project to “jeopardize” the long-term survival of or “take” coho salmon. It will also include the Department’s assessment of the significance of project impacts for purposes of “mandatory findings of significance” under 14 CCR §15065 (a), (b), and (c).

ALT -C-16 In conjunction with CDF, qualified landowners representatives and experts, and qualified independent scientists with appropriate expertise, and consistent with the availability of staff, the Department will monitor for five years (or more if necessary to develop an adequate sampling regime) the implementation of the FPR in effect at the time to determine whether these rules are consistent with the long-term survival of coho salmon.

ALT -C-17 If results of monitoring, based on substantial evidence as the term is defined by 14 CCR §15384, conclude that the implementation of the FPRs are not providing adequate protection for the long-term survival of coho salmon, the Department in cooperation with CDF and interested stakeholders will develop recommendations to ensure adequate protection for the long-term survival of coho salmon.

[There is no number 18]

ALT -B-19 Recommend that a “proof of concept” pilot program be developed and implemented to test a mathematical or scientific method of cumulative effects analysis as was suggested in the 2001 report, “A Scientific Basis for the Prediction of Cumulative Watershed Effects” (otherwise known as the “Dunne Report”), by the U.C. Committee on Cumulative Watershed Effects. The pilot program would be developed and implemented by a panel of experts such as those at U.C. in cooperation with the Department, CDF, and SWRCB.

ALT -B-20 Recommend that CDF and the Board of Forestry work with the Department and other interested agencies and stakeholders to establish a procedure for THPs to document and evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of coho-related mitigation measures prior to the official completion inspection by CDF and other agencies.

Appendix 3 Existing Monitoring Programs
Forest Practice Rules Implementation and Effectiveness Monitoring (FORPRIEM) Program

FORPRIEM provides sound science based data on the adequacy of the implementation and effectiveness of Forest Practice Rules specifically designed to protect water quality and riparian habitat. It uses information collected during THP Work Completion Inspections and Erosion Control Maintenance Inspections. FORPRIEM collects information on randomly located road segments, WLPZ segments, and watercourse crossings and uses a random 10 percent sample of THPs throughout the state. It is a continuation of monitoring that was previously completed under the MCR monitoring program, with data collection beginning in the fall of 2007. Data is primarily obtained by CALFIRE Forest Practice Inspectors, but other agency personnel are invited to participate in this monitoring program. Data collected in this Program will complement data obtained in the IMMP monitoring program.

Interagency Mitigation Monitoring Program (IMMP)

This program will build on what has been learned in CALFIRE/Board’s earlier Hill Slope Monitoring Program, Modified Completion Report, and other monitoring efforts. The IMMP will emphasize data collection and evaluation of high risk plans and the effectiveness of practices implemented at high risk locations within a plan to protect water quality and aquatic habitats. Effectiveness here refers to determining if prescribed measures applied during the plan operations resulted in the intended conditions (MOU Monitoring Workgroup 2005). The Program results will be reported to the Board. The primary monitoring related objectives of the IMMP are:

Determine how often practices designed to reduce impacts to water quality at high risk locations within a plan are properly implemented (including but not limited to mitigation measures developed by the Registered Professional Forester (RPF) and/or an interagency team).

Determine how often these practices, when properly implemented, are effective in protecting water quality on non-federal timberlands in California.

Provide a feedback loop to RPFs, CALFIRE Forest Practice Inspectors, state and federal agency personnel, the public, and others regarding what forestry-related practices at high risk sites require improvement to protect water quality.

Appendix 4 Example of Comprehensive Monitoring and Adaptive Management Programs (Excerpted from 14 CCR § 916.11.1 (936.11.1))

The Board, with the assistance of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, will implement a comprehensive monitoring and adaptive management program for timber harvesting operations in watersheds with salmonid. Four types of monitoring will be addressed under this program including compliance, implementation, effectiveness, and validation monitoring.

The monitoring program will:

Determine whether the operational Forest Practice Rules and associated hill slope and instream mitigation measures afford a level of protection that is both appropriate and adequate to ensure protection and meet the recovery goals for listed salmonids and the habitat that supports them;

Provide monitoring and analyses necessary to ensure all Forest Practice Rules are being implemented fully and correctly consistent with the CESA;

Provide timely results for the Board to assess effectiveness in meeting the stated policy goals; and

Evaluate the effectiveness of minimization and mitigation measures and identify when site-specific rules should be revised to accomplish the program purpose.

The adaptive management program will have five elements addressing:

Identification of substantial necessary new information;

Collection of substantial new information;

Evaluation of substantial new information; and

Determination regarding the necessity or benefit of adjustments and improvements to mitigation and protective measures, including the Forest Practice Rules, based upon the substantial new information.

Regular reports to the Board and to joint meetings of the Board and Commission about program results.


State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection: August 9, 2001

State Fish and Game Commission: August 23, 2001


State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection: February 3, 2009

State Fish and Game Commission: March 5, 2009

Return to Policies

Interim Joint Policy on Pre, During, and Post Fire Activities and Wildlife Habitat


  1. In California, fuel loads are very high. It is known that hot wildfires can do great damage to habitat. Prefire activities such as vegetation management activities, including both prescribed burning and mechanical approaches, are designed to reduce high fuel loads and in other ways reduce the risk of wildfire. Compared to the damage from uncontrolled wildfire, it is advantageous to use prescribed, more controlled, fires or mechanical methods whenever appropriate. In many places wildlife habitat is already badly fragmented. Accordingly, each unique plant community may have different fire cycles and respond according to appropriately timed prescribed burns. Hence there are conditions under which prescribed fires may be more desirable and other conditions under which such fires may have undesirable effects on plant communities. Within this framework, evaluations should be based on available data, supplemented to the extent feasible with site-specific information and analysis developed within a time frame necessary to carry out vegetation management objectives.
  2. Complex habitat interrelationships make prefire species-by-species analysis inefficient and costly. Project-by-project analysis is also expensive and inefficient given wildlife dependence on specific ecosystems that cover larger areas and themselves are spatially interrelated and often fragmented. Within this framework, evaluations of agency prefire programs should be made at the largest geographical scale possible to deal with ecosystem and wildlife interrelationships while taking into account sensitive habitats and species.
  3. The fundamental problem complicating effective fire protection in California is the existing and rapidly growing linear distance of the developed/wildland interface within a fire prone ecosystem. This represents a logistical challenge for state and local fire agencies and is also an issue in managing wildland ecosystems to be self-sustaining. Consequently, it is critical that fire protection, including fire prevention, requirements be addressed at the earliest stage feasible in both development planning and in the design and maintenance of wildlife reserves. This should be done through the local community planning process with multidisciplinary representation.
  4. Vegetation clearance near residences reduces damage to habitat from fires which originate near the residence. It also provides a defensible space from which to protect residences from wildfires burning from adjacent wildland areas. Hence Public Resources Code Section 4291 requires clearance of up to 100 feet around homes and fire safe regulations emphasize the use of fuel breaks. However, clearance may damage small portions of habitat, such as fragile areas like riparian zones, nesting sites, and rare plant populations. Provision for clearance should be made as part of subdivision or reserve design consistent with state laws and local ordinances. For existing homes, clearance may be an essential part of a fire safe strategy and must be completed, giving care to avoiding, reducing, or mitigating adverse impacts on sensitive plant and wildlife communities.
  5. Fire breaks, and to a lesser extent fuel breaks, may exacerbate the fragmentation of sensitive habitat, depending on the location, size, and number of breaks, as well as the method of clearance (ie. discing, mowing, blading, etc.).
  1. The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) has established a working group and policy task force to review the current vegetation management program; the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is participating. This review should be completed by late summer and a report should be submitted to the Board and Commission. Until CDF and DFG report to the Board and Commission, the Departments shall follow the Board's existing Vegetation Management Policy.
  2. Consistent with this policy, for 1994 and 1995 the Departments shall complete as many vegetation management activities as possible on the urban interface, especially in Southern California. CDF and DFG should facilitate such projects on the highest priority. The Departments shall coordinate existing data and surveys, consult as appropriate with federal wildlife agencies, and assign additional staff as needed to facilitate completion of this task. To the extent feasible given staff, funds, fire season dates, and program time frames, the Departments should seek to obtain additional biological data needed to fill information gaps; however, this charge should not delay implementation of an aggressive vegetation management program.
  3. For 1996 and beyond, the Departments shall develop or update a joint (CDF, DFG, and other agencies) five year vegetation management program that delineates proposed activities for this time frame consistent with the goals in the Board of Forestry Fire Plan. This process shall: 1) encourage early consultation between fire management agencies and other wildlife agencies; 2) identify all areas that may be candidates for prescribed fire or other pre-fire activities; and 3) assess the resources at stake and the anticipated effect of prefire activities.
  4. The Departments shall aggressively seek to incorporate fire protection requirements for both development and wildlife reserve planning. The Departments should coordinate such efforts and seek to have fire protection issues addressed at the earliest planning stage possible, including integrated planning for management of wildlife habitat and defensible space.
  5. Consistent with their statutory mandates, the Departments shall support enforcement of clearance laws and recognize that property owners are legally required to provide clearance around structures as specified in Section 4291 of the Public Resources Code; and that communities in high fire hazard areas need to have an aggressive fire safe program, including clearance and fuel breaks around existing structures. The Departments shall aggressively seek to involve the private sector in assuming greater responsibility for fire prevention.
  1. Prior to the start of fire season, DFG shall meet with and keep CDF informed at the regional level regarding the location of important plant and animal communities and their related ecosystems. To the extent that resources permit, the Department shall provide information regarding the location of the plant and animal communities and related ecosystems. The Department shall report to the Commission at its May meeting on the outcome of the sessions, including any issues that could not be resolved.
  1. Prior to the start of fire season, CDF shall meet with DFG at the regional level and keep them informed of the status of the upcoming fire season, the location of areas where fire hazards are especially great, the availability of fire fighting personnel, and other relevant factors. To the extent feasible, CDF shall incorporate the information into the dispatch and Incident Command System planning information bases and make certain that field personnel are familiar with this information and its application to suppression activities. The Department shall report to the Board at its May meeting on the outcome of the sessions, including any issues that could not be resolved.


  1. Some ecosystems are very fragile to intense fires, such as a backfire at the wrong period of the year, or to mechanical disturbance which may increase erosional events or irreparably damage the habitat integrity. The greatest ability to be sensitive to habitat impacts is in presuppression activities. After a fire starts and increases in size and intensity, options usually decrease. After a fire is contained, options may again increase.
  1. When there is a conflict between protecting human life and other values, human life should receive top priority. Protection of property, habitat of sensitive, threatened, and endangered species, timber, and watershed values should receive careful consideration in choice of suppression tactics from an integrated values at risk approach consistent with the Board's Fire Plan. The Departments shall work together to facilitate this direction and shall report annually to the Board and Commission on operation of this policy.
  2. The Departments shall jointly evaluate during fire activities and report to the Board and Commission at their January meetings.
  1. As part of the Incident Command System (ICS), the Department shall make available a local plant, wildlife, and fisheries specialist during large fires or on burns that threaten important wildlife or plant communities to provide advice.
  2. The Department shall train appropriate field personnel in use of the Incident Command System and periodically renew this training.
  3. The Department shall work with CDF to identify fire suppression tactics on wildfires that could have long term effects on ecosystems at the regional or local level.
  1. On fires that have the potential to become major fires, CDF's ICS structure shall involve DFG and others as technical specialists to advise the planning section regarding sensitive habitat. In the event that DFG cannot provide appropriate specialists, CDF shall seek alternative specialists as necessary to deal with concerns related to plants, fish, and wildlife.
  2. Sensitivity should be taken with fire suppression tactics in some ecosystems, where such activities could harm the long term maintenance of the plant or animal communities. CDF incident commanders shall be aware of and consider the impacts of practices listed by DFG as having potential long term effects on ecosystems.


  1. By law, revegetation efforts following wildfire focus on rehabilitating watershed lands to conserve water and soil and to prevent destructive floods. Historically, flood related erosional events have been a major issue. Recent studies suggest that seeding with rye grass may not be particularly effective in slowing erosion, at least in some sites and in some places in California. Seeding with native grasses from outside the local area of the burn has raised questions about contamination of local gene pools. Native grasses may also be more persistent than rye grass and prevent the recovery of the on-site vegetation species; these factors could be especially important in critical wildlife habitat areas. Emergency revegetation work may be necessary, but should be evaluated site-by-site. Cost of native grass seed is a significant factor to be examined. Mechanical and structural methods shall also be considered as they may be an effective and cost efficient way of dealing with erosion control and be less damaging to the ecosystem.
  2. Under Sections 4675 and 4676 of the Public Resources Code the CDF is authorized to perform specified acts to protect the public interest, including activities related to watershed rehabilitation. Under the California Environmental Quality Act and various Fish and Game Code sections, DFG is charged with protection of fish and wildlife and related habitat, including viability of habitat following wildfire.
  1. Emergency watershed protection are those actions taken to assist in the recovery of the on-site vegetation and to protect downstream values of urban and wildland watersheds from excessive erosion and flooding following wildfire. These actions shall recognize the distinct differences between environmental impacts which are suppression-related and human-caused, and those which are wildfire-related and naturally occurring.
  2. Program objectives shall be achieved by utilizing the Incident Command System (ICS) to obtain an evaluation of impacts to a watershed for fires occurring in areas of State Responsibility (SRA). This should be done in such a way to:
    1. Keep damage to a minimum during mop-up;
    2. Have emergency watershed work initiated during the active suppression stage of the fire and have work completed shortly thereafter but before the first heavy rainfall.
  3. Emergency revegetation shall be limited to critical areas as defined by the Departments and should consider long term ecosystem health and processes.
  4. Mechanical methods of erosion control shall be considered during the evaluation of emergency watershed work. When revegetation actions are determined to be the most appropriate for the site, efforts shall consider enhancing natural plant recovery and succession. In determining the most appropriate watershed treatment, the long-term protection of the environment shall be evaluated along with the costs and benefits.
  5. CDF has established a working group and policy task force, including DFG staff, to review the current watershed rehabilitation program and all available related information. The study, among other things, shall specify appropriate limits to where reseeding can occur and how it should be carried out. The study should be completed prior to the end of the next fire season and reports made to the Board and the Commission.
  6. The Departments shall evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts in attaining the intent of this policy and report to the Board and Commission at their May meeting.
  1. The Department shall participate in the development of rehabilitation/watershed work response plans.
  2. The Department shall report to the Commission annually on the implementation of this policy, including any areas of disagreement with CDF.
  1. Until the Department completes its study, CDFs current policies shall apply.
  2. The Department shall report annually to the Board on the implementation of this policy, including any areas of disagreement with DFG.
  3. CDF staff shall advise DFG of rehabilitation efforts and request appropriate staff to participate.

(Adopted 5/9/94)

Return to Policies

Policy on Hardwoods


The Fish and Game Commission (Commission) and the State Board of Forestry (Board) find that the hardwood resources on hardwood-rangelands and timberlands of California are a vitally important natural and economic resource.

Over 30 species of hardwood trees in California, including oaks of the genus Quercus, occur widely as individual trees and distinct habitat types throughout the State. Hardwoods themselves and hardwood-dominated habitats are extremely important to the fish, wildlife, and natural resources of California. Hardwoods throughout California support a wide variety of wildlife species by providing habitat with feeding, breeding, cover, and related needs. In addition, some hardwoods benefit fishery resources by preventing the erosion of hillsides and stream banks, moderating water temperatures by shading and contributing nutrients and food-chain organisms to waterways.

Hardwoods also provide substantial worth to landowners in the form of aesthetic, open space, recreational, wood products, range and property values and these same values also provide certain public benefits.

California has grown rapidly in population; homes and recreational use have intensified greatly in many formerly rural areas--including those dominated by hardwoods. Lands have been subdivided and ownerships fragmented. Hence, the Board and Commission have determined that human uses in hardwood habitats, such as development and fuelwood harvesting, have produced controversy related to public impacts to water quality, fish and wildlife, and other resources. The Board and Commission are also concerned about the adequate regeneration of some hardwood species.

The Board and Commission recognize that there are local differences in land use conditions, pressures and patterns, and management goals and practices that affect conservation needs that include, firewood harvest in the northern Sacramento valley and development in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Sierra-Nevada foothills. The Board and Commission also recognize that there is local variation in the hardwood resource between larger geographic areas. This variation should be addressed with an array of management approaches for different hardwood species, wildlife habitats, and vegetative communities.

The Board has been concerned with the impacts of population growth and various associated land uses on hardwood resources since 1981. The Commission has had a hardwoods policy since 1985. In 1987, the Board, the Commission, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF), the Department of Fish and Game (DFG), and University of California Cooperative Extension started an Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program designed to provide for research, education, and monitoring of the hardwood resource. This program has received the support of landowners, governmental agencies, and the public. Since its inception, substantial research and educational efforts have taken place.

In May of 1993, the Board reviewed the results of the Integrated Hardwood Range Program to see if it was accomplishing its goals. This review took place after complaints of the impact of firewood harvesting in a few Northern Sacramento Valley counties and the continued development of hardwood lands in other parts of the state. The Board reviewed the need for statewide regulation of hardwoods and decided that such controls are not warranted at this time. Rather the Board opted for a renewed effort to encourage local government and citizens to design strategies that will address local hardwood management and conservation. Should this fail, the Board, in consultation with the Commission, Department of Fish and Game, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program, the Range Management Advisory Committee and any interested parties, will examine the need for statewide legislation and take regulatory action, if necessary, to control harvesting and conversion of hardwood-rangelands using existing statutes.


The Board and the Commission recognize the need to work together to provide for a unified policy for California's hardwood resource. To this end, the following joint policy is established for CDF and DFG:


  1. The hardwood resources of California should be managed for the long-term perpetuation of their local and broader geographic representation and to continue to provide for their inherent natural and biological values and processes. These values and processes may include, but are not limited to, regeneration, plant species composition, vegetation structure and age class distribution, water quality, and other biotic and abiotic resources. Management should also address soil resources, air quality, rangeland improvement practices, recreational opportunities, and other benefits. Consistent with such conservation of the hardwood resource, state and local incentive policies should be designed to promote ecological viability as well as economic return from hardwood resource management.
  2. The Board and the Commission support continued implementation of the Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program.
  3. The Board and Commission support the desire of local government to be able to utilize their expertise in selecting locally appropriate conservation options and encourage them to seek early project review by Departmental personnel.
  4. If issues related to hardwood conservation cross county lines, the Board and Commission will encourage multicounty and local approaches and if necessary will provide for assessment, information, and suggested standards. As appropriate, the Board and Commission will encourage collection of data that can assist local government in addressing issues related to hardwoods and which can be aggregated to provide information across larger geographic areas or statewide.
  5. To the extent that agency staff are involved with hardwoods, the Board and Commission adopt the following joint policies for their respective Departments:
    1. Departmental personnel should be guided by the position that hardwood harvesting and other land uses should be conducted in a sustainable manner which secures regeneration of all hardwood species, enhances the protection of fish, wildlife and plants of hardwood habitats, allows adequate recruitment of other native vegetation in hardwood habitats and meets state and federal water quality standards. The Departments should also consider private landowners goals, property rights, and community economics.
    2. Department personnel should cooperate with other state and federal agencies, local governments, University of California Cooperative Extension and other academic programs, non-profit organizations, landowners, groups representing landowners, and the public to provide for necessary research, information, and education programs related to hardwoods;
    3. In cooperation with the Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program and Private landowner, Departmental personnel should jointly establish a process, which includes both satellite imagery and ground checking, to monitor the status of the hardwood resource, to examine the effectiveness of local policies with respect to hardwoods, and to evaluate the performance of the Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program; staff should report annually, in joint session, to the Commission and the Board.


The Board and Commission will meet periodically to review implementation of this policy and to clarify and resolve issues that arise from overlapping interests of their respective departments.


In addition to the joint policy, the Commission specifically charges the Department of Fish and Game with the following:

  1. Contingent upon funding and staffing availability, the Department conduct, contract and/or support studies involving assessing the effects of the distribution and densities of the following hardwoods on terrestrial and aquatic vertebrates, including: (1) blue oak and associated plant species in blue oak-dominated habitats; (2) black oak and associated plant species in black oak-dominated habitats; (3) valley oak and associated plant species in valley oak-dominated habitats; and (4) Engelmann oak and associated plant species in Engelmann oak-dominated habitats;
  2. The Department continue to review proposed timber harvesting activities and, when appropriate, recommend measures which will mitigate significant adverse impacts upon fish and wildlife resources;
  3. Relative to the removal of hardwoods, the Department shall recommend, seek and support the adoption of proposals appropriate for the protection and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources;
  4. The Department periodically reassess the terms and conditions of existing regulations, permit processes and other administrative measures which affect conservation of hardwood resources and, where feasible, seek corrective action when the original terms and conditions have proven inadequate;
  5. If after consulting with the sponsors on project modification, and based on scientific evidence, the Department still opposes the proposed project affecting hardwood resources, it will notify the Commission of its opposition. This opposition may include, but not be limited to, the issuance of permits or licenses, authorization or programs, and the appropriation of funds which it determines will result in the removal of hardwoods and other modifications of hardwood habitats and communities in a manner that will result in significant adverse effects to fish, wildlife, or plant resources for which mitigation and compensation measures are judged to be inadequate;
  6. In the event of disagreement over implementation of this policy with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Department shall inform the Commission of the disagreement;
  7. The Department shall provide active liaison to the Board and Range Management Advisory Committee in issues related to hardwoods, fish, wildlife, endangered plant and animal species, and the impacts of vegetation management and wildfire on wildlife; and
  8. Annually, the Department will include a statement in the Director's report to the Commission addressing the status of hardwood conservation.


In addition to the joint policy, the Board of Forestry charges the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection with the following:

  1. Administer Departmental programs consistent with the terms of this joint policy statement;
  2. Implement the Forest Practice Act, other statutes and this policy consistent with mitigation of adverse impacts to fish, wildlife and with this policy;
  3. Continue to implement the Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program;
  4. Conduct a program of vegetation management, fire prevention, and Fire Safe to minimize the impact of wildfire on life and property, and where possible at the same time, maximize fire's natural beneficial effects on hardwood ecosystems;
  5. As part of the Board and Departmental Fire Plan, and in consultation with the Department of Fish and Game regarding the impacts on fish, wildlife, and plant resources, address issues related to the role of fire in hardwood-dominated ecosystems and the impacts of pre-fire, during-fire, and post-fire agency activities;
  6. Support research and development for hardwood utilization and manufacturing;
  7. Consistent with available staff and funding, provide for a thorough assessment of the status of the hardwood resource at least once every five years, commencing with 1995;
  8. Consistent with available personnel, provide staff support to the Range Management Advisory Committee;
  9. In the event of disagreement over implementation of this policy with the Department Fish and Game, inform the Board of the disagreement; and
  10. Provide active liaison to the Commission and Range Management Advisory Committee on issues related to forest and vegetation management, wildfire protection and prevention, and the assessment of hardwood resources.

Adopted 05/09/94

Return to Policies