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Registration closes October 19

Education Program - Workshops and Professional Training

CEQA Impact Assessment

Wednesday, November 4 through Thursday, November 5, 2015
Taft Gardens, Ojai, CA

Instructor: David L. Magney, Botanist/Certified Arborist

Download the print-friendly flyer for this workshop (pdf)

Target Audience: Biologists and botanists who conduct biological assessments and write EIR sections, and members of the public who want to be able to adequately understand and review the biological impact assessments prepared to satisfy CEQA. Consultants, conservationists, and environmentalists are encouraged to attend.

Description: This workshop will focus on how to read and analyze the biological resources section of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) prepared to satisfy the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Land use decisions that affect native plants and natural vegetation are generally assessed through the CEQA review process. CEQA is enforced ONLY by the public - no agency is responsible for making sure a lead agency properly complies with CEQA. Knowing how to read the EIR biological resources section and what is required, or not required, will help the reviewer, and the preparer, do a better job of assessing the impact of a project.

This workshop will provide basic guidance on what is required to be included in a biological assessment pursuant to CEQA, how to read the documents, and how to submit critical, scientifically-based comments. A few specific CEQA documents will be used as real-life examples of poorly- and well-written EIRs. Tools that are available to the preparer/reviewer will be identified.

Participants will learn:

  • The basics of CEQA and how it works, or doesn't work, in relation to biological resources
  • How to effectively prepare a CEQA document
  • How to meaningfully critique a CEQA document with the intent of improving its quality
  • How to apply CEQA for improved and less damaging projects, and appropriate mitigation of significant impacts to biological resources.


Registration is now open! Last day to sign up is Monday, October 19. Click here to sign up now.

Registration fees are discounted for CNPS members. If you are not a CNPS member, visit to join now and save!

Please note: class size is limited to 25 participants. Pre-registration is required.

  Date CNPS Members Non-members
CEQA Impact Assessment Nov 4-5 $335 $365

Cancellation Policy: The last day to cancel your registration and receive any refund is Wednesday, October 14, 2015. Refunds may be subject to processing fees. Please send cancellation requests by e-mail to Becky Reilly, . Click here for more details on the cancellation policy for CNPS workshops.

Course Schedule and Outline:

(subject to change)
This workshop will be held from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm each day, with a lunch break from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. Bagels and coffee will be provided each morning. A final agenda will be provided about a week before the workshop.

Description of CEQA

  • The law
  • CEQA Guidelines
  • Discretionary versus Ministerial projects
  • Lead Agency
  • Responsible and Resource Agencies
  • EIRs
  • MNDs
  • Public Participation

CEQA Review Process

  • Notice of Intent
  • Project Description
  • Initial Study
  • Draft EIR
  • Final EIR
  • Findings, Certification
  • Legal Challenges

CEQA Bio Assessment Section

  • Existing conditions of biological resources (plants and wildlife)
  • Project-related impacts (direct, indirect, cumulative)
  • Significance of impacts
  • Mitigating to less-than-significant levels
  • Findings

How to Perform an Assessment of Biological Resources

  • Project Description
  • Background research (what do we know about the project site?)
  • Field surveys (of flora and fauna)
  • Habitat/vegetation mapping
  • Species lists
  • Special-status species
  • Habitat/plant community descriptions
  • How to review an Assessment of Biological Resources
  • Read relevant sections of the CEQA document
    • EIR/MND
    • Supporting studies
  • Note questions you have that are not answered
  • Note statements that don't seem to be supported by the evidence
  • Approaches to drafting critical comments
  • Approaches to responding to critical comments
  • Presentations at public hearings


About the Instructor:
David L. Magney, President of David Magney Environmental Consulting (DMEC), is a biologist/botanist, Certified Arborist, and physical geographer with a thorough knowledge of the flora of California and over 30 years of field experience. Mr. Magney has worked on and managed a large variety of projects throughout the Pacific Southwest, including biological resource inventories, vegetation mapping and classification, wetland delineations and restoration, rare plant surveys and ecological studies, fisheries habitat assessment and mitigation design, fisheries monitoring, small mammal trapping and surveys, biological impact analysis and mitigation, and construction and mitigation monitoring. He formed DMEC in 1997 after spending 2 years with FugroWest, 6 years with Jones & Stokes Associates, and 3 years with Dames & Moore, as well as work with the Los Padres National Forest and UCSB Herbarium.

Mr. Magney earned a BA in Geography and Environmental Studies (emphasis in botany) from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1985. He also holds an A.S. in Landscape Horticulture from Ventura College. Mr. Magney successfully completed training courses in wetland delineation (1989) and Federal wetland policy (1991) from the Wetlands Training Institute; training in the Corps of Engineers' Hydrogeomorphic Assessment Methods (HGM); and courses on hydric soils, wetland hydrology, CEQA and NEPA, Endangered Species Acts, and vernal pools. He has taught courses or given presentations on wetland impacts and mitigation, CEQA, Clean Water Act permitting, water quality, riparian and wetland plant identification, and wetland delineation methodology. Mr. Magney has authored two floras in California and presented numerous papers on vegetation and water quality, and has nearly completed a manual on the flora of Ventura County ( Mr. Magney serves on the Environmental Review Board for Los Angeles County Regional Planning, the City of Ojai's Tree Committee, and is very active in CNPS, including serving as Conservation Committee Chairman for the Redbud Chapter.

Materials Required: Please bring:

  • a notebook and pen/pencil,
  • lunch, snacks, and water for 2 days,
  • and a clear mind.

Materials Provided: CNPS will provide relevant handouts and references.

Workshop will be held rain or shine.

Maps and Directions: This workshop will be held in the Studio at the Taft Gardens in Ojai, CA. Detailed maps and directions will be provided by e-mail about a week before the workshop.

If you have questions about this or any other CNPS workshops, please contact Becky Reilly, CNPS Events Coordinator, at 916-447-2677 x207 or .

View the complete schedule of CNPS 2015 Plant Science Workshops

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