What's New

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  • 07-16-21 The NEPA Process Improvement Team has approved a proposal to add two alternative processes to existing Caltrans guidance for projects undergoing Federal Endangered Species Act (FESA) Section 7 Consultation (Consultation). These alternative processes are: 1) using the Natural Environment Study (NES) or NES Minimal Impact for Consultation, and 2) solely using a Biological Assessment (BA) to support all biological documentation on projects that require Consultation. The alternative process guidance and a decision tree are contained in a policy memo located on the SER Policy Memo page.
  • 07-12-21 The Division of Environmental Analysis has created a brief video tutorial on “Navigating the SER.” The video provides a high level overview of the five SER volumes and other content pages. It will be most useful to new employees or anyone needing a refresher on the SER organization.  A link to the video can be found at the top of the SER homepage.
  • 07-09-21 The Cultural Studies Office has updated the archaeology guidance in the Cultural Resources volume of the SER.  This update includes revisions to Chapters  1 and 5, and Exhibits 5.1-5.14. For additional information, please see the SER Volume 2.
  • 06-10-21 The Cultural Studies Office has a new context and research design exploring the potential eligibility of bedrock milling (BRM) features. This is a part of our ongoing thematic archaeological research designs to assist in the treatment of specific types of cultural resources throughout the state. This study can be found on the SER Other Guidance page.
  • 06-07-21 The NEPA Process Improvement Team has prepared a memo that describes the initial implementation of a proposal to allow flexibility in the timing of obtaining biological opinions as long as certain conditions are met, as part of the federal Endangered Species Act Section 7 and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes.  This memo can be found on the SER Policy Memos page.

    In addition, the CE Checklist (optional) has been updated to reflect this memo and the previously posted memo on “Changes to Species List Requirements.”  The CE Checklist can be found on the SER Forms and Templates page.
  • 06-04-21 Caltrans and the FHWA have worked to develop a Programmatic Categorical Exclusion Agreement (PCE Agreement) that addresses actions that are subject to NEPA and are classified as non-highway projects. These projects may involve actions related to encroachment permits and other right-of-way use agreements. Projects that qualify for a CE under 23 CFR 771.117 but that do not meet the definition of a “highway project” under 23 CFR 773.103 shall be processed under the 2021 PCE Agreement between the FHWA and Caltrans.

    The new PCE Agreement can be found on the SER MOUs, MOAs, and Agreements page.  In addition, a policy memo has been created that outlines the use of the PCE Agreement which has been posted on the SER Policy Memos page.  Projects that meet the criteria identified in the PCE Agreement shall use the new Categorical Exclusion/Categorical Exemption (CE/CE) Form for Non-Highway Projects that has been created.  The Categorical Exclusion (CE) Checklist (optional) has also been updated to include CEs that fall under the PCE Agreement.  The new CE/CE Form for Non-Highway Projects and the CE Checklist can be found on the SER Forms and Templates page.
  • 04-19-21 In August 2019, the Division of Local Assistance and Division of Environmental Analysis formed the NEPA Process Improvement Team (Team) to review Caltrans’ current NEPA and other federal environmental procedures and policies. The Team is considering federal statute, FHWA’s current regulations and policies, and other state departments of transportation’s implementation of NEPA to determine whether and how to modify our existing procedures and policies to provide for more efficiencies and flexibilities in delivery of Federal-aid projects.

The Team has produced two memos that outline changes made regarding the requirements for the CE Checklist and for species lists obtained as part of the FESA Section 7 process.  Both memos can be found on the SER Policy Memos page.  As the Steering Committee approves other proposals by the Team, new memos reflecting those decisions will also be posted here.

Edits to the SER will be forthcoming and will reflect the changes made by these memos.