Cox Castle has significant experience advising clients on a wide array of c natural resource issues related to the development of all types of development projects. We help clients navigate the complicated statutory and regulatory framework of state and federal natural resource permitting requirements law in California and throughout the United States.
Wetlands, Streams and Other Aquatic Resources
We work closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. EPA, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Water Resources Control Board and its regional water quality control boards to obtain permits to conduct work in navigable waters, wetlands, streams and riparian areas and other waters of the U.S. and the State of California under Sections 404,401 and 408 of the Clean Water Act, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act and Section 1600 of the California Fish and Game Code. We work on some of the most complex wetlands-related and other projects in the State of California, including large-scale master-planned development projects, wind and solar energy developments, hydroelectric projects, and others.
Threatened, Endangered and Other Protected Species
We assist projects in securing incidental take authorizations under all federal and state wildlife protection laws. Our work includes assisting clients with Section 7 consultations and Section 10 Incidental Take Permits and Habitat Conservation Plans under the Federal Endangered Species Act, Natural Community Conservation Plans under the Natural Community Conservation Plan Act, Section 2081 Incidental Take Permits under the California Fish and Game Code, avian permitting and compliance under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Our assignments include regional habitat conservation plans, safe harbor agreements, complex avian species permitting questions associated with wind and other renewable energy developments, aquatic resource permitting and other issues.
Tribal and Cultural Resources
During our CEQA/NEPA and natural resource permitting engagements, we regularly work with clients to navigate the consultation processes of State and Federal law with respect to tribal and cultural resources, including California’s AB 52 and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. At the federal level, our work includes programmatic agreements, memoranda of understanding and other efforts involving tribal representatives, the California State Office of Historic Preservation, the National Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies. We are involved in tribal negotiations at all levels, and have negotiated some of the most complex tribal and cultural resource questions in the western United States.
California Water Rights
We regularly advise clients seeking to identify and ensure the adequacy of water supplies for development of all types and in the development and financing of water-related infrastructure. Our lawyers are intimately familiar with the myriad state and federal regulatory structures affecting the use of water, including the California Water Code, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the Clean Water Act and Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, CEQA and NEPA, Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg and the California and Federal Endangered Species Acts, among other laws. Our work in this area includes water rights permitting, water transfers, conjunctive use arrangements, wastewater treatment and reuse, urban water management planning, water supply assessments/demand evaluations under SB 610 and SB 221, water neutral development, infrastructure development and finance and all other matters associated with the development, use, management and transfer of water resources. Our expertise extends into all areas of law related to groundwater use, including the transfer of water rights in adjudicated basins, negotiating private water supply agreements between water rights owners and landowners for the use of after-pumped groundwater and protecting water rights of overlying landowners in SGMA-regulated groundwater basins. We also assist in resolving administrative disputes with watermasters and obtaining well drilling, relocation, or abandonment approvals.
Compensatory Mitigation Projects
Our lawyers have structured all types of mitigation vehicles, including turn-key mitigation projects, mitigation and conservation banks and in-lieu fee programs. We regularly negotiate the terms of conservation easements, management plans, endowment agreements and other security instruments needed to implement mitigation projects, and we are well-versed in the mitigation approval processes of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and other agencies. Our clients include California’s top mitigation and conservation bankers, and we have permitted multiple conservation projects involving between 25,000 and 50,000 acres of land.
- Tehachapi Mountains Condor Conservation Plan. Represent the wind operators in Southern California’s Tehachapi Mountains (inclusive of over 200 turbines) in the preparation, approval and implementation of a conservation plan to address potential conflicts with California condor. This is the first large-scale habitat conservation plan for California condors and is intended to facilitate the recovery of this species in the wild through the establishment of innovative minimization measures and a substantial increase in the breeding and release of condors into the wild.
- Upper Santa Ana River Habitat Conservation Plan. Represent the lead municipal water agency in San Bernardino County in the preparation of a comprehensive habitat conservation, and other permitting strategies, to address the impacts of the construction and operation of all water facilities (storm water, water supply, wastewater treatment, groundwater recharge) for thirteen local districts on the Santa Ana River in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. The USAR HCP is intended to address water-related impacts on the threatened Santa Ana sucker throughout the water basin.
- Klamath River Dam Removal. Assist in the development and implementation of a plan to remove hydro-electric facilities from the Klamath River, including the transfer of FERC license authority to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the environmental restoration of the Klamath River, and the establishment and implementation of a risk management program to address property-related risks associated with dam removal. This project will result in the largest dam removal effort in the history of the United States.
- California Land Conservation Projects. Assist the State of California’s largest mitigation and conservation bankers in the establishment of environmental preservation and restoration projects throughout the Bay Area, Central Valley, Sierra Foothills and Southern California. By way of example, representing the owner of the historic, 52,000-acre N3 Ranch (Alameda, Santa Clara, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties) in the development of a mitigation and conservation bank to address impacts on a variety of grassland and aquatic species.
- Placer County Wetlands and Species Permitting. Represent Placer County landowners in the development of an HCP/NCCP and wetlands permit program covering all of southwest Placer County. Negotiated terms of participation for Placer Vineyards and other large-scale development projects; initiated development of a comprehensive in-lieu fee program for vernal pool fills in the region; assisted in the development of a County Aquatic Resource Program for Corps of Engineers permitting under the HCP; worked with CDFW on a programmatic LSAA compliance program in southwest Placer County; and assisted with other joint county/landowner efforts to develop and implement the HCP/NCCP.
- News, Super Lawyers, 6.28.23
- Conference, 10.27.22
- Client Alert, 8.1.23
- Western Joshua Tree Conservation Act Passes California Legislature, Creates Streamlined Take Permitting ProcessClient Alert, 6.28.23
- Client Alert, 5.25.23
- Client Alert, 7.13.22
- What’s All the Buzz About? Bees and Other Terrestrial Invertebrates Now Eligible for California Endangered Species Act ListingClient Alert, 6.3.22