Added by AB 2900

Public Resources Code §§5860, 5861, 5862, 5863, 5864, 5865, 5866, 5867, 5868, 5869, 5870, 5871, 5872, 5873

Effective January 1, 2007

The California Natural Landmarks Program has been created to designate the state’s natural landmarks to promote private and public maintenance of natural resources for public benefit. For land to be designated a “California natural landmark,” owners of property located within the lands selected as a “Potential California natural landmark” must either initiate or agree to the land’s designation.

The primary criteria for a California natural landmark designation are the remarkably illustrative characteristics of a particular type of natural feature and the conditions that will sustain the integrity of those characteristics.

Secondary criteria used to determine designation are examples of biological or geological features other than the primary natural feature, rare geological or paleontological features, or natural habitats for rare, threatened or endangered species, and value for science and education.

An owner who requests his property be a designated natural landmark must pay the costs incurred by the state Department of Parks and Recreation in determining the designation. The Department will provide an estimate of the costs and a list of capable state- and private-employed scientists from which the owner must choose one to perform the required studies. The owner may cancel his request at any time and need only pay the expenses incurred up to that time.

The Department, or any scientist performing studies for the department, must receive the owner’s permission before entering the owner’s property.

If the property does not qualify for natural landmark designation, the owner will be notified and given the reasons it did not qualify. If the property does meet the qualifications, the department must notify the owner of the designation in writing.

A property’s designation as a California natural landmark does not:

  • change the property’s ownership or dictate activity;
  • require, mandate or authorize further state or local planning, zoning, or other land-use action or decision;
  • require an owner to cede any legal rights and privileges of ownership or use of the property; or
  • provide the Department of Parks and Recreation with an interest in the designated property.

The department may modify a landmark’s boundaries or revise information about the landmark as long as the modification or revision is executed in consultation with affected owners. In order for the department to reduce a landmark’s boundaries, one of the following must apply:

  • a loss of integrity of the landmark’s natural features;
  • a professional error in the original designation; or
  • a landowner has requested a reduction or rescission.

In order for the department to rescind a landmark’s designation, one of the following must apply:

· the owner of the landmark requests the rescission by submitting a request for rescission;

· an error in the professional judgment resulted in the land erroneously being designated;

· the landmark’s features must have deteriorated or been destroyed; or

· the designation procedures were not properly followed due to procedural error.

A California natural landmark designation is not considered part of the environment for purposes of evaluation of environment under an environmental impact report.