What We Do


A permit is an authorization, license, or equivalent control document issued by the federal, state or local government or other agency to implement the requirements of a regulation or law. A permit is an agreement between the issuing agency and the applicant whereby the applicant agrees to follow the applicable codes and laws governing a project or type of land use. By issuing and tracking permits, local, state and federal agencies can set minimum standards for activities that protect California’s environment both now and in the future. The permit process was developed to provide for orderly development, ensure compliance with applicable regulations, and minimize future impacts as they help to track, authorize and administer a variety of actions. Local, state, federal, and tribal governments require projects, work activities, and actions to receive authorization from applicable regulatory agencies.

Permits are almost always required when:

  1. Working in or near a waterway, riparian area, or wetland.
  2. Grading land or clearing vegetation
  3. Working in any area where endangered species may be affected.

Creek Habitat   Conservation Burn   red-legged frog   riparian vegetation

Navigating the permit process can be costly, confusing, frustrating, and time consuming. The RCD has expertise in securing the permits landowners may need before starting work. The RCD can help landowners secure required permits, including permits issued by the County of Sonoma, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Coastal Commission.

Funding may be available to assist landowners who are interested in permit assistance.


The permitting process can be complicated and hard to understand. The Guide to Watershed Permitting manual was created to assist you in getting started by providing basic information and directing you to sources where you can find more information. It is broken down into sections for easy reference and the entire manual is simplified in the matrix under the section titled Analyze Your Project. The manual is not intended to be a comprehensive guide on the how-to’s of permitting. There are already good sources available for those who need detailed information as well as agencies who can assist you in getting started.

It is the responsibility of the permit applicant to ensure that they have applied for all required permits. Consult an assistance agency to be sure you have obtained all the necessary permits for your project (see local, state, regional and federal agencies).

Source: California Association of Resource Conservation Districts

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