BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 2376
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          Date of Hearing:   April 13, 2010

                   ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON WATER, PARKS AND WILDLIFE
                            Jared William Huffman, Chair
                    AB 2376 (Huffman) - As Amended:  April 5, 2010
           
          SUBJECT  :   Department of Fish and Game:  Strategic Vision

           SUMMARY  :   Requires the Secretary of the Natural Resources  
          Agency to convene a committee to develop and submit to the  
          Governor and Legislature, a strategic vision for the Department  
          of Fish and Game (DFG) and the Fish and Game Commission (FGC).   
          Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Directs the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to  
            convene a committee to develop and submit to the Legislature,  
            by July 1, 2012, a strategic vision for DFG and FGC.

          2)Provides that the committee shall include the Secretary, the  
            director of DFG, the president of the FGC, the chair of the  
            California Energy Commission, a representative of the  
            University of California, and representatives of the U.S Fish  
            and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries  
            Service.

          3)Requires that the strategic vision address specified matters  
            relating to fish and game management, including but not  
            limited to:  biodiversity management and ecosystem functions;  
            permitting and regulatory functions; recreational and  
            commercial harvest; scientific capacity; relations with the  
            public, landowners, nonprofits and other land management  
            agencies;  reforms necessary to address challenges of the 21st  
            Century; use of technology and data systems; clarification of  
            the roles of DFG and FGC; and strategies for identifying other  
            stable funding options to reduce DFG's dependence on the  
            General Fund.

          4)Directs the committee to seek input from other entities and  
            interested parties, and review existing reports and other  
            state models.

          5)Authorizes the Governor or the committee to appoint a "blue  
            ribbon" or citizen commission, advisory committee, task force,  
            or other group or groups to assist in carrying out this task.









                                                                  AB 2376
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          6)Requires the committee to seek funding from non-state entities  
            to minimize the use of General Fund moneys for purposes of  
            implementing this bill.  

           EXISTING LAW  :  

          1)Establishes DFG as a department of the State Natural Resources  
            Agency, administered through the director, with responsibility  
            for managing and conserving the state's fish and wildlife and  
            their habitat.  Provides that the fish and wildlife resources  
            of the state are held in trust for the people of the state by  
            and through DFG.

          2)Establishes in the state constitution, Article IV, Section 20,  
            the FGC, composed of 5 members appointed by the Governor,  
            subject to Senate confirmation.  Authorizes the Legislature to  
            delegate to the FGC such powers relating to the protection and  
            propagation of fish and game as the Legislature sees fit.  The  
            Legislature has delegated to the FGC and to DFG various  
            responsibilities for the protection, management and regulation  
            of fish and game and their habitats.

          3)Provides that the FGC shall formulate general policies for the  
            conduct of DFG, and provides that the DFG director is to be  
            guided by those policies and responsible to the FGC for  
            administering DFG in accord with those policies.    

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   The mission of DFG is to manage CA's fish, wildlife  
          and plants, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their  
          ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.  
           In addition to its traditional role of managing fish and game  
          activities, DFG is the state's lead public trustee charged with  
          conserving and restoring CA's wildlife and ecosystems. DFG's  
          broad responsibilities have expanded and become increasingly  
          more complex over time. Today California is the most populous  
          and biologically diverse state in the nation. As a result of  
          population growth and associated development pressures, and  
          competing demands for finite natural resources, CA's environment  
          has experienced unparalleled stressors and resource conservation  
          challenges. In addition, new challenges such as the need to  
          adapt to climate change and to site renewable energy projects,  
          has increased the work load of DFG.









                                                                  AB 2376
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          The author has introduced this bill with the long term goal of  
          improving and enhancing DFG's capacity and effectiveness in  
          fulfilling its public trust responsibilities for protection and  
          management of the state's fish and wildlife, for their  
          ecological values and for the benefit of the people of the  
          state.  Numerous past reports and studies, including reports by  
          the Legislative Analyst's Office, the State Auditor, the Little  
          Hoover Commission and others have highlighted the need for  
          reform of DFG.   This committee, on February 9, 2010, held a  
          day-long informational oversight hearing on DFG in which the  
          committee reviewed DFG's many mandates and emerging challenges,  
          identified areas where improvements are needed, and received  
          recommendations on ways that DFG's capacity, effectiveness and  
          accountability could be enhanced. A number of common themes  
          emerged from the hearing, including the following:

           Need for a dedicated, stable funding source.
           Need for new management models to manage wildlife in an era of  
            scarcity and multiple threats.
           That the importance of ensuring DFG has capacity to fulfill  
            its mission is heightened by the state's legal public trust  
            responsibility under the constitution to protect fish and  
            wildlife.
           Need for greater conservation planning efforts statewide,  
            including for monitoring and data collection.
           Need for greater clarity between roles of DFG and FGC.
           Need to expedite, prioritize and incentivize the permitting  
            process for voluntary habitat restoration, including on  
            private lands.
           Need for increased on the ground game warden enforcement  
            capacity.
           Need to strengthen DFG's in-house science capacity and  
            partnerships with other academic institutions, like UC and  
            CSU.
           Database system modernization, standardization, management,  
            coordination and public access should be high priority.

          While these and other common themes emerged from the hearing, it  
          was clear given the complexities, that a comprehensive review  
          and strategic analysis is needed.  This bill provides a pathway  
          for developing that strategic vision, through creation of a  
          state agency-level committee that can look in depth at the  
          issues, with assistance of a blue ribbon or citizen commission  
          and other advisory groups.  A process similar to this approach  
          was used to develop the Delta Vision and strategic plan.








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           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Audubon California
          California Coastkeeper Alliance
          California Council of Land Trusts
          California Trout
          Defenders of Wildlife
          The Nature Conservancy
          The Sportfishing Conservancy
          Trout Unlimited
          Trust for Public Lands

           Opposition 
           
          None on file
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Diane Colborn / W., P. & W. / (916)  
          319-2096