What this permitting pathway covers

The Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Act (HREA) provides a faster (30 or 60-day approval) and simpler process with one single approval from CDFW in lieu of getting a separate Section 1600 Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreement (LSAA) and/or California Endangered Species Act (CESA) authorization, for small-scale (not exceeding a maximum project size of 5 acres or a cumulative 500 linear feet), voluntary habitat restoration projects throughout California. Restoration and enhancement projects approved by CDFW, pursuant to HREA, do not require additional permits from CDFW.

  • HREA process can be especially helpful for those qualifying projects that would otherwise need both an LSAA and CESA permit from CDFW.
  • Projects that receive funding through the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program can also apply to use the HREA.

To qualify, HREA projects must:

  • Meet the eligibility requirements for the State Water Board General Order for Small Habitat Restoration Projects, which includes not exceeding a maximum project size of 5 acres or a cumulative 500 linear feet.
  • Have the primary purpose of improving fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Avoid or minimize any incidental impacts.

Two permitting pathways are defined in Fish & Game Code:

Applicable locations

Statewide - aquatic/riparian areas or areas that could impact Waters of the State

Permit documents

Expires on


How to apply

Application forms are on CDFW’s HREA webpage.  Electronic copies of completed HREA Request Forms (i.e., PDF) may be submitted to CDFW through the EPIMS Document Repository.

It is highly recommended that you contact your CDFW Region for pre-consultation. Pre-consultation is opening a dialogue with CDFW early in the planning process, before an approval request is submitted. Pre-consultation can help avoid incomplete requests or delays in the approval process, and can help with the development of appropriate species protection measures.

May be used with:

Example projects

See the full list of projects and their locations on this CDFW webpage.

Activities covered

Projects size must be ≤ 5 acres or 500 cumulative linear feet of stream segment or coastline.  Projects must be voluntary projects with the primary purpose of improving fish and wildlife habitatProjects must avoid or minimize any incidental impacts. HREA is typically used for aquatic habitat restoration projects in creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds, floodplains, wetlands, and other water bodies.

For a full list of projects that have been approved under HREA, see this map: https://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Environmental-Review/HREA/Report

Some of the project activities that HREA has been used for include:

  • Fish passage projects including,  culvert upgrades, removal of other fish passage barriers, removal of small dams
  • Relocation of a fish screen and redesign of an existing diversion structure to improve fish passage
  • Large wood augmentation
  • Restoration and enhancement off-channel and side-channel habitat
  • Beaver dam analogs
  • Bioengineered streambank stabilization
  • Road rehabilitation
  • Construction of ponds for endangered species, construction of infiltration ponds on a floodplain terrace for groundwater storage and summer streamflow
  • Invasive plant removal
  • Revegetation with native plants
  • Removing  waste from waterways, such as vehicles, farm equipment, and other debris
  • Stream channel improvements, including gravel augmentation to improve spawning habitat, construction of cross vanes to create a more diverse pool structure and improve instream habitat
  • Off-channel livestock watering to benefit endangered species by improving grazing management and reducing grazing in riparian habitat


  • Projects that do not have the primary purpose of fish and wildlife habitat restoration (e.g., property protection projects)
  • Projects greater than 5 acres in size or 500 cumulative linear feet.
  • Projects that are not voluntary restoration (i.e. mitigation projects)
  • Projects that do not meet the eligibility requirements for the State Water Board General Order for Small Habitat Restoration Projects.

Application Tips and Resources