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Developers could have obstacles to rebuilding wildfire areas

Now that the smoke is clearing, surveying the damage done by the recent wildfires here in California could take some time. Even so, some developers are already beginning efforts to rebuild. However, they could encounter significant environmental obstacles as they do so.

When it comes to land use issues, ordinarily more than one agency gets to have a say in the project. In at least one of the wildfire-ravaged areas, those agencies include the Army Corp of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with state and local agencies that deal with water quality. This does not even include agencies that deal with other environmental issues. 

Santa Rosa sustained a significant amount of damage from the wildfires, and it also has some of the strictest environmental regulations in California. As far as the rebuilding efforts go, the habitat of the Tiger Salamander (which is on the endangered species list), the oak Savannah grassland and numerous seasonal temporary wetlands and vernal pools butt up against the city. Any projects that may encroach upon these protected areas may not be allowed to move forward. Furthermore, it will be necessary to ensure that runoff and other possible pollutants to these areas cause any issues.

Developers could be facing logistical, legal and environmental hurdles as they endeavor to put Santa Rosa and other locations in the area back together. It may help to consult with an attorney who may be able to provide assistance in navigating all of the legalities associated with a particular project. The more issues that can be resolved before construction actually begins, the more likely it is that the project will be completed in a more timely and successful manner.

Source: bizjournals.com, "Why one of the biggest barriers to rebuilding Santa Rosa may be an endangered salamander (Video)", Kevin Truong, Nov. 6, 2017

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