About the Hungry Valley SVRA General Plan Update and EIR
California State Parks has started a public process of updating the General Plan for Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA). The Hungry Valley SVRA General Plan Update will provide a comprehensive management plan that will guide the future of Hungry Valley SVRA for the next 20 to 30 years. The General Plan is important to the future of Hungry Valley SVRA and State Parks wants to hear from you!
A lot has changed in and around Hungry Valley SVRA since the last General Plan was prepared in 1982. California State Park's Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division is updating the Hungry Valley SVRA General Plan to address changing conditions, analyze the latest information and data, and incorporate lands that have been added to Hungry Valley SVRA since the existing 1982 General Plan was approved.
The updated General Plan will provide a comprehensive management plan for approximately 19,500 acres within Hungry Valley SVRA. A General Plan serves as a blueprint for future decisions about land use, facilities, recreation opportunities, and management of natural, cultural, and physical resources, among other topics, and is required by the California Public Resources Code (PRC §5002.2).
The General Plan is the primary management document for a unit of the California State Park System, defining a framework for resource stewardship, interpretation, facilities, visitor use, and operations. General Plans define an ultimate purpose, vision, and intent for unit management through goal statements, guidelines, and broad objectives, but stop short of defining specific objectives, methodologies design, and timelines on how and when to accomplish these goals (California State Parks 2010). A General Plan must be prepared prior to the development of new facilities that permanently commit park resources (PRC Section 5002.2). Any development within a park, as well as the approval of a general plan, is subject to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Division 13, PRC Sections 21000-26000).
The Hungry Valley SVRA General Plan was first adopted in 1981. The primary goals of the General Plan were to protect native ecosystems such as native perennial grasslands, and to provide visitor access by establishing OHV trails. The General Plan dedicates most of the land use within the park to OHV use, but also includes areas for camping, interpretive areas, hiking, and grazing/farming leases. Other intents of the General Plan are to:
- Identify and protect cultural and natural resources of the park.
- Identify any possible environmental impacts that may result from implementation of the General Plan.
- Identify existing problems in the park, and suggest possible solutions.
- Guide future facility development.
- Provide for the safety of OHV recreation through management, interpretation and education.
In addition, the General Plan will identify existing recreational uses, visitors to the SVRA and their recreational needs and desires. This information will help determine future recreational opportunities and facilities at Hungry Valley SVRA. This PPP outlines the goals and strategies that California State Parks will utilize to achieve this goal.
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of projects, and avoid or mitigate those impacts. A General Plan is considered a project under CEQA, and is subject to the review process of an EIR because the plan may result in a significant effect on the environment. Some goals of the CEQA process include ensuring informed governmental decisions, identifying ways to avoid or reduce environmental damage through feasible mitigation or project alternatives, and providing for public discourse (CEQA Guidelines Section 15002, subd. (a)(1)-(4)). These sections require that “each public agency should include provisions in its CEQA process for wide public involvement, formal and informal, consistent with its existing activities and procedures, in order to receive and evaluate public reactions to environmental issues related to the agency’s activities” (Section 15201). Therefore, the public involvement opportunities associated with the process of preparing an EIR are also included in the discussion of the goals and strategies of this PPP.
The following is a general description of the significant CEQA requirements for public noticing and public participation that apply to an EIR being prepared for the Hungry Valley SVRA General Plan update.
- Notice of Preparation and Scoping: Under CEQA, agencies preparing an EIR are required to file a Notice of Preparation (NOP) to provide the public and other responsible and trustee agencies an opportunity to comment on the scope of issues to consider before preparing an EIR (PRC Section 21092). A lead agency must provide at least one scoping meeting for projects of statewide or area wide significance for which an EIR will be prepared, and must invite neighboring cities and counties, any responsible agencies, and any agencies with jurisdiction by law over any resources affected by the project (CEQA Guidelines Section 15082).
- Notice of Completion and Draft EIR: A Notice of Completion must be filed with the Office of Planning and Research to provide public notice that an EIR has been prepared. At the same time, a Notice of Availability is sent to the Office of Planning and Research to provide public notice of the availability of the draft EIR (CEQA Guidelines Sections 15085 and 15087). Mailed notices are provided to individuals who requested it. The review period for a draft EIR “shall not be less than 30 days nor should it be longer than 60 days except under unusual circumstances.”
- Final EIR: Under CEQA, lead agencies may provide a review period for the final EIR, but are not required to do so (CEQA Guidelines Section 15089, subd, (b)).
- Project Approval and Notice of Determination: Within five days of project approval, an agency must file a Notice of Determination (CEQA Guidelines Section 15094).