CAL FIRE's mission includes protecting California's resources-- not only from natural disaster, but from the direct and indirect impacts that may arise from the Department's actions. CAL FIRE's own activities, as well as those it approves, permits, funds or otherwise facilitates, may impact the environment, and are therefore subject to environmental review. The Environmental Protection Program strives to provide protection to the resources of the state through its sub-program areas.

Environmental Protection Sub-Programs

CAL FIRE is working at local, state and national levels to protect and manage California forests so they can continue to provide net greenhouse gas benefits and so that we can reduce impacts to forests of climate change impacts which are already taking place. Healthy forests have an important role to play in addressing climate change.  

Cultural heritage resources, which include places where past events occurred and where material traces of these events can be found, are especially vulnerable.  Such traces include archaeological, historical and tribal cultural sites, structures, objects, features, places, cultural landscapes, sacred places and artifacts.

CAL FIRE's Wood Products and Bioenergy team seeks to maintain and enhance the forest-sector workforce and businesses of California to promote healthy resilient forests throughout the state by supporting a diverse set of business development and workforce development projects.

The Environmental Protection Program's Mission

The Environmental Protection Program strives to ensure that:

  • State and Federal environmental laws are observed
  • Forested landscapes are managed wisely
  • The state's varied biological resources are enhanced
  • Water quality is protected and maintained
  • The state's archaeological, historical and tribal cultural resources are protected
  • California's wildlands are managed to minimize and offset climate change effects
  • The state's woody biomass resource is efficiently utilized

When CAL FIRE decides to approve, permit, fund, or carry out a project that may effect the environment, its decision is subject to disclosure and review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Certain Department activities may be exempt from CEQA due to their emergency nature (e.g., firefighting, flood response) or their minimal likelihood for causing significant impacts (statutory or categorical exemptions). Other actions may require the Department's development and approval of environmental documents, including Environmental Impact Reports. 

In addition to CEQA, CAL FIRE is subject to many other State and Federal laws and regulations - federal and State Endangered Species Acts, Clean Water Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act - and must obtain various permits to carryout certain activities. In conducting its environmental analysis under CEQA, CAL FIRE consults with other agencies, carries out surveys and studies, seeks the opinion of experts and solicits public input. CAL FIRE strives to avoid environmental impacts through modifications in the project such that sensitive resources are protected. Where necessary, CAL FIRE adopts additional mitigations to ensure that impacts to all resources are, individually and cumulatively, less than significant.

CAL FIRE encourages the public's participation in the CEQA process and welcomes input at hearings or through the submittal of written comments. 

The following is a summary of CAL FIRE approvals that are subject to environmental review under CEQA:

Fire Protection:

  • Fire Suppression Chemicals (retardants, gels)
  • Fuels Management Projects
  • Construction and Repair of Facilities
  • Building Demolitions, Transfers, Relocations, Conversion
  • Land Acquisitions and Leasing

State Forest Projects

  • Demonstration and Research
  • Recreation (trails, campgrounds, special events)
  • New and Updated Forest Management Plans
  • Road Maintenance and Repair

Fire Training Exercises:

  • Heavy Fire Equipment (Dozer) Operating Training
  • Training Burns (wildland or structure)
  • Conservation Crew Hand Line Construction
  • Tree Faller Training

Urban Forestry:

  • Tree Planting
  • Grants

Forest Pest Management:

  • Pesticide Applications
  • Forest Pest Research

Environmental Protection Program

P.O. Box 944246 Sacramento, California 94244