Top Three Things to Know About the CDFG for the CSE Landscape Exam

Regulatory Agency Series: Part 5

What CSE Candidates Need to Know About the California Department of Fish and Game

The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) administers several programs that regulate and protect fish, plants, and wildlife.

Number 1: California Department of Fish and Game exists to protect wildlife

CDFG’s mission is to protect wildlife, plants, and habitats of the people of California.

According to the California Department of Fish and Game’s website:

“The Environmental Review and Permitting Programs are responsible to fulfill the mission of the State to encourage the preservation, conservation and maintenance of wildlife resources under the jurisdiction and influence of the State, including the conservation, protection and management of fish, wildlife, native plants, and habitat necessary for biologically sustainable populations of those species.”

CDFG is concern about:

  • fish
  • land animals
  • invertebrates
  • birds
  • native plants
  • protecting habitat for wildlife

Number 2: California Department of Fish and Game Administers Several Programs

Because CDFG is charged by the state legislature with protecting such a broad swath of natural resources, there are many individual programs that they manage. One or several of these programs can affect landscape architects depending on the scope and size of a project.

Here are some of the programs run by CDFG that can impact a landscape design or planning project:

  • Lake and Streambed Alteration (LSA) program
  • Timberland Conservation Program
  • Invasive species program
  • Native Plant Program

Number 3: CDFG is a California Environmental Quality Act review agency

The California Legislature established policies in Public Resources Code (PRC) sections 21000, 21001, 21002, and 21002.1 regarding the establishment and care of a quality environment for the people of California as well as the enhancement of the environment and control of environmental pollution. This program grew into the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) .

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires projects that meet certain criteria to undergo an intensive public evaluation.

Five Goals for the California Environmental Quality Act

  1. Disclose environmental impacts
  2. Prevent or reduce environmental damage
  3. Disclose agency decisions
  4. Promote interagency coordination
  5. Encourage public participation

CEQA was originally implemented to identify and mitigate potentially significant negative affects on the environment. Some items to identify during the inventory phase that may cause a project to fall under CEQA oversight can include:

  • Aesthetics Agriculture resources
  • Air quality
  • Biological resources
  • Cultural resources
  • Geology/soils
  • Hazards and hazardous materials
  • Hydrology/water quality
  • Land use/planning
  • Mineral resources
  • Noise Population/housing
  • Public services
  • Recreation
  • Transportation/traffic
  • Utilities/service systems

In most cases, CEQA only applies to larger projects. We will discuss more about CEQA in a future article.

For More Information on Regulatory Agencies:

  1. Part 1: Introduction to Regulatory Agencies on the California Supplemental Exam
  2. Part 2: US Army Corps of Engineers
  3. Part 3: Federal Emergency Management Agency
  4. Part 4: United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  5. Part 5: California Department of Fish and Game

Pass the California Supplemental Exam (CSE) for Landscape Architects e-book study guideIf you are looking for a study guide to help you prepare to pass the CSE the first time, check out Pass the California Supplemental Exam for Landscape Architects study guide e-book.


John is a landscape architect who is currently preparing to take the California Supplemental Exam to become licensed in California. He is currently a licensed professional landscape architect in Georgia and Florida. John graduated from California State University, Pomona with a BSLA degree in landscape architecture in 1997 and has extensive practice experience in residential and commercial landscape design.

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