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 20-21, 2023 
Virtual, on Zoom
Taught by David Magney

Students: $75
Sliding scale (pay what you can): $125, $175

Capacity: 35 participants
Last Day to Register: September 6, 2023



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 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Land use decisions that affect native plants and natural vegetation are generally assessed through the CEQA review process. CEQA is generally enforced by the public – no agency is solely 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 evening of day 1. To earn a certificate of completion, participants will need to pass (72% score or higher) an optional 25-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

Wednesday, September 20

8:30 – 9:00 AM 
Welcome and Introductions 

9:00 – 9:30 AM
Placement Quiz 
25-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
Lunch Break

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

Thursday, September 21

9:00 – 10:30 AM
Discussion of Case Study 

10:30 – 10:45 AM

10:45 AM – Noon
Discussion of Case Study – Continued 

Noon – 1:00 PM
Lunch Break

1:00 – 1:50 PM
Drafting Comments on CEQA Documents 

1:50 – 2:40 PM
Standards for Botanists 

2:40 – 2:50 PM

2:50 – 3:25
Final Examination 
25-question test (multiple choice and true/false questions) covering subject matter covered in the workshop.  Passing score (72%) needed to receive Certificate of Completion.

Review Final Exam, Personal Experiences and Questions

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 device or notebook to take notes.

Materials Provided: CNPS will provide relevant handouts and references.

About the Instructors

David Magney

David Magney, 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 also worked for the CNPS Rare Plant Program from mid-2016 through March 2023, 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.

Scholarships Available

CNPS is committed to reducing barriers and broadening participation in our workshops. We are offering financial support opportunities for students, early professionals, or anyone who may not otherwise be able to attend. This scholarship will cover the cost of one CNPS plant science workshop.

The scholarship form is due six weeks before the workshop date that you would like to attend. You will be notified within four weeks of the workshop date about the financial aid determination. Please click here to fill out the form to be considered as a potential recipient of a workshop scholarship.


Registration for the CEQA Impact Assessment workshop is full. Please fill out this form to be added to the waitlist.

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 Wednesday, September 6, 2023. For other ways to register, please see our full registration & payment policy.