Contact Us:
Ascent Environmental, Inc.
455 Capitol Mall, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA

Curtis Alling, AICP

Chris Mundhenk
Senior Environmental Manager

Alta Cunningham
Cultural Resources Specialist

New CEQA Environmental Topic:
Tribal Cultural Resources

Assembly Bill 52 Adds Tribal Consultation
Steps to the CEQA Process
AB 52 (Assemblymember Gatto), which became law in September 2014, amends the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) effective July 1, 2015 and directs the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to adopt CEQA Guidelines by July 1, 2016 to include additional consideration of “tribal cultural resources” and a prescribed tribal consultation process. The bill was the product of extensive negotiations to arrive at an approach that would both improve CEQA coverage of tribal cultural resources and create a workable and helpful consultation process between tribal governments and lead agencies.

OPR, the California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC), tribal governments, and local and state agencies have begun preparations for the July 1, 2015 effective date. All CEQA lead agencies will need to comply with the law for EIRs with a Notice of Preparation and NDs or MNDs with a notice of availability published on or after that date.

This AscentShare is intended to help agencies start preparing for the new requirements. Please note that the deadline set by AB 52 for adoption of CEQA guideline amendments is up to one year after the statute’s effective date for lead agencies to begin compliance.

Practical implications of AB 52 will include introduction of a new resource category within CEQA’s purview (i.e., tribal cultural resources) and the need for enhanced consultation between CEQA lead agencies and Native American tribes, when those resources may be adversely affected.  Also, the definition of tribal cultural resources covered by CEQA will involve a broader range of resource conditions, such as cultural landscapes and sacred places, than typically evaluated under the current definitions of historical or archaeological resources.  

Several items are offered here for your use and information: As additional background information, OPR previously prepared guidelines for tribal consultation related to specified local government planning actions pursuant to SB 18, Statutes of 2004. These guidelines can provide insight into similar consultation processes. 

We hope this is useful to help you begin to get ready for AB 52. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Curtis Alling, Chris Mundhenk, or Alta Cunningham. Also, appreciation is expressed to Holly Roberson, Dave Snow, and Laura Miranda for sharing their panel presentations.

Ascent Environmental, Inc. is a forward-looking environmental consultancy. We offer our extensive CEQA and NEPA, regulatory compliance, climate action planning, and natural resources experience with the goal of providing personal service and high quality results to our clients on their most important projects. We are certified as a small business and women-owned business enterprise.
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