BRRIT FAQs

Northern Anchovy. Photo taken by Jim Ervin, UC Davis South Bay Monitoring Program
Northern Anchovy. Photo taken by Jim Ervin, UC Davis South Bay Monitoring Program

What is the BRRIT? 

The Bay Restoration Regulatory Integration Team (BRRIT) is a collaborative team comprised of staff from the six state and federal regulatory agencies with jurisdiction over and dedication to permitting habitat restoration projects in and around San Francisco Bay.  The BRRIT is supported by funding from the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority (SFBRA) and other Bay Area organizations interested in improving permitting of multi-benefit restoration projects.  Specifically, the BRRIT is comprised of: 

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) 
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) 
  • NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) 
  • San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Board) 
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) 
  • San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) 
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) also participates on an ad hoc basis. 

What kinds of projects will the BRRIT review? 

The BRRIT reviews projects that qualify for funding under the SFBRA’s definition of multi-benefit wetland restoration projects and their associated flood management and public access infrastructure features.  Projects must also be entered into EcoAtlas as “San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority (Eligible).” 

What is the benefit of working with the BRRIT? Will using the pre-application process streamline my permitting timeline? 

The primary benefit to coordinating with the BRRIT early in your Project planning phase is that the team is dedicated to providing early review, project input and guidance, identifying agency requirements that need to be met, and resolving regulatory issues early in the planning process.  After completing the pre-application process, project permitting will be less likely to encounter regulatory challenges that can delay permitting and construction.  

What can project applicants do to facilitate efficient processing of their permit? 

To facilitate permitting timelines and outcomes, projects should participate in pre-application coordination with the BRRIT as early and often as needed to get guidance on permitting requirements, identify potential issues, and work collaboratively to resolve them.  We encourage projects to provide as much detail as possible as the project develops and submit any draft reports to the BRRIT for early review and feedback at any time during the pre-application process. Projects will also learn about important information to provide as part of a complete permit application. 

What does the BRRIT do to facilitate efficient permit processing? 

The BRRIT can improve the permitting timeline by being available for pre-application meetings and site visits and providing written guidance to restoration projects.  The BRRIT will review project information, identify issues early in the design and planning process, and provide recommendations to meet agency requirements. The team approach helps projects navigate permitting from different agencies on parallel tracks as much as possible and is intended to reduce common permitting delays.  Projects will have a dedicated BRRIT member that manages communications and helps schedule follow up meetings as needed.   
The BRRIT has also compiled resources
to help projects better understand the agencies' policies, regulations, and permitting requirements and a permit application checklist to help projects prepare a complete permit application. These resources are available on the SFBRA website. 
The BRRIT coordinates closely with the Policy and Management Committee (PMC), comprised of managers from each agency.  The PMC is working to
identify issues limiting the flexibility of design and/or permitting of multi-benefit restoration projects and are working to resolve these issues. The PMC also developed protocols for elevating and resolving permitting issues and will review substantive issues raised by the BRRIT or others in project-specific cases and propose resolutions at a management or policy level where appropriate. 

What is the geographic scope of projects reviewed by the BRRIT?  

As per the authorizing legislation of the SFBRA, projects must be located within the nine Bay Area counties along the shoreline of the San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay, Carquinez Strait, Suisun Bay, and most of northern Contra Costa County shoreline to the edge of but not including the Delta Primary Zone. “Along the Shoreline” includes the following areas: 

Subtidal Habitats. Area lying below mean low tide, within a reasonable distance of the shoreline.  
Baylands. Areas that lie between the maximum and minimum elevations of the tides over multiyear cycles, including those areas that would be covered by the tides in the absence of levees or other unnatural structures, including the portion of creeks or rivers located below the head of tide.  
Transition Zones. Uplands adjacent to potential or actual tidal wetlands that can provide transitional habitat and/or marsh migration space, as well as areas that are needed to enhance the project’s resilience to projected sea level rise. 

If my project is a voluntary restoration, why do I need to get permits? 

Many Bay natural habitats, including wetlands, tidal waters, ponds, and tributaries to the Bay, are protected by federal and state laws and regulations.  These include the Clean Water Act, the Rivers and Harbor Act, the Endangered Species Acts, the Porter Cologne Act, McAteer Petris Act, and California Fish and Game Code.  Environmental laws and regulations are important in order to avoid unintended consequences, to ensure coordination with other land and water management efforts, and to avoid and minimize impacts to sensitive resources.  

How do I get my project reviewed by the BRRIT? 

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority conducts a call for projects to participate in the BRRIT pre-application process about every six months. To be included on the BRRIT Project List, enter your project into EcoAtlas as “San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority (Eligible)” using the Project Tracker tool and Authority staff will determine eligibility. If you have questions about how to get your restoration project included on the Project List for BRRIT review, please email BRRIT@sfbayrestore.org.  

Can I contact the BRRIT directly about my project? 

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority determines which projects are eligible for BRRIT review. Eligible projects on the BRRIT Project List may contact the BRRIT by emailing BRRIT@waterboards.ca.gov. If you have questions about how to get your restoration project included on the Project List for BRRIT review, please email BRRIT@sfbayrestore.org.   

How can I schedule a pre-application meeting? 

The SFBRA will contact you to let you know if your project was selected as an eligible project for BRRIT review. Eligible projects included on the BRRIT Project List can email BRRIT@waterboards.ca.gov to schedule a pre-application meeting. Pre-application meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month at the Water Board office in Oakland but may be scheduled as needed based on project timeline constraints.  

When should I bring my project to the BRRIT? 

We strongly recommend that you schedule pre-application meetings as early and as often as needed during your project planning phase.  The BRRIT can advise you on regulatory requirements, permitting pathways, any likely protected species conservation measures that may need to be considered for the project construction, any potential for cultural resource consultation, and other potential public concerns about the project.  

How does the regulatory process differ when projects are reviewed by the BRRIT? 

The regulatory process does not differ when projects are reviewed by the BRRIT. However, efficiencies are anticipated because projects will receive coordinated review by the BRRIT. By participating in robust pre-application meetings, many regulatory hurdles can be resolved prior to application submittal and ensure timely processing of permits. The BRRIT team members work in close coordination with each other and with projects, allowing more rapid exchange of information and opportunity for problem solving. 

How do I know what permits my restoration project will need? 

The BRRIT will provide guidance on what permits your project will need during pre-application meetings. Below is some general information about permits that may be required.

 

If you answer “yes” to any of the following, you will need a Corps Permit: 

Will your project require any work activities that take place in tidal waters, or anywhere in a tidal marsh below the local mean high water elevation? 

Will your project require installing any sort of structure in tidal waters, or anywhere in the tidal marsh below the local mean high water elevation? 

Will your project require placing any materials in tidal waters or on tidal wetlands (even temporarily)?   

Will your project require placing any materials (even temporarily) in any wetland, pond, or local tributary that flows to the San Francisco Bay? 

If your project needs a Corps Permit, you will also need a Water Quality Certification from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.   

If your project needs a Corps Permit, and there are any federally listed species (under the Endangered Species Act) or their habitats present, your project may also need Endangered Species Act consultation, which the Corps would likely conduct on the project’s behalf.   

Will your project involve work within a tidal slough or a tributary stream?   

If yes, you will likely need a 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreement from the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Will your project involve potential impacts to species listed under the California Endangered Species Act? 

If yes, you may need to obtain a CESA 2081(b) Incidental Take Permit.  

Will your project involve work in the Bay or within the 100-foot shoreline band of the Bay?  


If yes, you will likely need a BCDC permit.   

I know that I need a Corps permit, but should I request an Individual Permit from the Corps or can my restoration project be covered under a Nationwide Permit? 

You should discuss this question when you come to the BRRIT for your pre-application meeting because there are pros and cons to each permitting pathway.   If your project is likely to result in greater than minimal adverse environmental effects, then you will need an Individual Permit.  Keep in mind that while your project may be a net benefit to the environment, it can still have adverse impacts that are not minimal – for example, if you are restoring tidal flow to a large area of productive habitat that is currently not subject to tides.  If the current habitat provides important functions that would be lost, then the adverse effects can be more than minimal.   This does not mean your project will not be permitted, it only means that the Corps will require a NEPA document and will issue an individual permit for the project.   
The level of adverse effects is not the only consideration.  If your project will need adaptive management activities over time to ensure success, early discussion with the BRRIT will help determine whether an individual permit, which includes future adaptive management activities, will provide more flexibility and reduce the need for additional permits after construction.      

Isn’t the Nationwide 27 the fastest permit pathway for my restoration project? 

It may be, but only by a few months.  For example, many restoration projects involve potential effects to federally listed species (e.g., salt marsh harvest mouse, Ridgway’s rail, steelhead, or other salmonids) and therefore require Endangered Species Act consultation to obtain an Individual Permit or a Nationwide 27.  Consultation can add four to six months to the permit processing time.  For an Individual Permit NEPA review, including an alternatives analysis, actual permit processing time does not need to be much longer than the nationwide permit processing, since both permit pathways require the Endangered Species Act consultation.   

What is the order of permit issuance? 

The Corps permitting decision cannot be issued until consultations for Section 106 of the NHPA, Essential Fish Habitat under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and Section 7 of ESA are completed.  The Corps can issue a conditional Nationwide permit authorization for your project prior to receiving the Water Board’s Water Quality Certification, and prior to BCDC’s issuance of Coastal Zone Management Act concurrence (conditional upon receiving these items, or a waiver from the agencies).  The Corps cannot issue an individual permit until the Water Quality Certification has been issued and all federal concurrences/permits have been issued.     
 

What should I submit as part of my permit application package to the agencies? 

Please see our application checklist here 

 

Can the BRRIT work on mitigation projects? 

No. The BRRIT can only work on projects that qualify for funding under the SFBRA’s definition of multi-benefit wetland restoration projects and their associated flood management and public access infrastructure features and are entered into EcoAtlas as “San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority (Eligible).” .  

Where can I find information on specific agency permitting requirements?  

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (Corps): 

Regulatory Home Page for the San Francisco District - https://www.spn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory.aspx  
For more information on the Nationwide Permits (including a link to the 2017 Nationwide Permits) - 
https://www.spn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Regulatory-Overview/Nationwide/ 

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS): 

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/west-coast/about-us/protecting-marine-life-west-coast 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS): 

https://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/consultations-overview.html 

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW): 

http://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/CESA
https://wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/LSA    

Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) 

https://www.bcdc.ca.gov/permits/ 

San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Board): 

https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/sanfranciscobay/certs.html  
 


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