In this workshop you will learn how CEQA can be leveraged to give California’s plants and lands a voice in the face of development. We’ll cover how to read and analyze the biological resources section of an EIR or MND, and to submit critical, scientifically-based comments. Read on for details.

CEQA Impact Assessment

September 14-15, 2021
Virtual, on Zoom
Taught by David Magney and Isabella Langone

Registered students: $25
Sliding scale: $50, $75

Capacity: 35 participants
Last Day to Register: August 30, 2021



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 CA 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 available to the preparer/reviewer will be identified.

Homework will be assigned on the evenings of day 1. To earn a certificate of completion, participants will need to pass (72% score or higher) an optional 50-question test (multiple choice and true/false questions) covering the subject matter covered in the workshop.

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

Schedule & Locale

Tuesday, September 14

8:30 – 8:45 AM 

Welcome and Introductions 

8:45 – 9:30 AM

Placement Quiz 

50-question placement quiz (multiple choice and true/false questions) to provide a baseline of your current understanding of CEQA.

9:30 – 10:45 AM

Intro and Overview of CEQA: The Basics 

10:45 – 10:55 AM


10:55 – Noon

CEQA Review Process 

Noon – 1:00 PM


1:00 – 2:00 PM

CEQA Bio Assessment Section 

2:00 – 3:15 PM

How to Perform an Assessment of Biological Resources

3:15 – 3:30


3:30 – 5:00

How to Review an Assessment of Biological Resources 


Case Study 1 – review example CEQA bio assessments for discussion on Day 2

Wednesday, September 15

8:30 – 10:30 AM

Discussion of Case Study 1 

10:30 – 10:45 AM


10:45 AM – Noon

Discussion of Case Study 1 – Continued 

Noon – 1:00 PM


1:00 – 2:30 PM

Drafting Comments on CEQA Documents 

2:30 – 2:45 PM


2:45 – 3:15 PM

Standards for Botanists 


Personal Experiences and Questions (Online chat or breakout groups)

4:00 – 4:45

Final Examination 

50-question test (multiple choice and true/false questions) covering subject matter covered in the workshop.  Passing score (72%) needed to receive Certificate of Completion.


Closing remarks 

Schedule subject to change.

Location: This two day workshop will be on Zoom. Participants will be sent a link. Participants will want to be sure they are in a location with high-speed internet, can see system requirements here.

Materials & Requirements

Materials Required: Please bring a notebook and pen/pencil.

Materials Provided: CNPS will provide relevant handouts and references.

About the Instructor

David Magney

David Magney, Special Projects Program Manager of the CNPS Rare Plant Program and President of David Magney Environmental Consulting (DMEC), is a biologist/botanist, Certified Consulting Botanist and Certified Arborist, and physical geographer with a thorough knowledge of the flora of CA and over 30 years of field experience. David joined CNPS staff in mid-2016 after 32 years in various leadership roles as a volunteer focusing on conservation and rare plants, including serving as CNPS Board President and president of the Channel Islands Chapter for many years.

As an environmental consultant, David 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 working with the Los Padres National Forest and UCSB Herbarium. David earned a BA in Geography and Environmental Studies (emphasis in botany) from UC Santa Barbara in 1985. He also holds an A.S. in Landscape Horticulture from Ventura College. David has taught courses and given presentations on wetland impacts and mitigation, CEQA, Clean Water Act permitting, water quality, riparian and wetland plant identification, and wetland delineation methodology. He has authored two floras in CA and presented numerous papers on vegetation and water quality, and has nearly completed a manual on the flora of Ventura County ( He served on the Environmental Review Board for Los Angeles County Regional Planning, and the City of Ojai’s Tree Committee until 2016.

Isabella Langone

Isabella Langone is a Conservation Advocate for CNPS. Prior to joining the staff at CNPS, she practiced as an attorney in the area of general business litigation. She joined CNPS in 2020 and her work heavily involves analyzing and commenting on projects being reviewed under CEQA and NEPA. She is grateful to be using her legal skills and experience to advocate for the protection and preservation of California’s native flora.


Before registering, please review our full workshop cancellation policy and participant expectations. The last day to cancel your registration for this workshop and receive any refund (less the cancellation fee) is Monday, August 30, 2021. For other ways to register, please see our full registration & payment policy.

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