BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                              1

          |                                                                 |
          |                   Senator Fran Pavley, Chair                    |
          |                    2009-2010 Regular Session                    |
          |                                                                 |
          BILL NO: AB 2376                   HEARING DATE: June 29, 2010  
          AUTHOR: Huffman                    URGENCY: No  
          VERSION: May 28, 2010              CONSULTANT: Bill Craven  
          DUAL REFERRAL: No                  FISCAL: Yes  
          SUBJECT: Fish and wildlife: strategic vision.  
          1. The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is 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.  The California  
          Fish and Game Code states that the fish and wildlife resources  
          of the state are held in trust for the people of the state by  
          and through DFG. 

          Among its many activities are: conducting biological and field  
          investigations, operation of fish hatcheries, licensing for  
          hunting and fishing, wildlife disease investigation, review of  
          CEQA documents that affect streambed alterations or wildlife  
          habitat, review of timber harvest plans, land management for  
          lands under its jurisdiction, habitat planning and management,  
          enforcement of wildlife protection and hunting and fishing laws,  
          and oil spill planning, enforcement, and response. 

          2. The state constitution, Article IV, Section 20, created the  
          California Fish and Game Commission, (FGC), composed of 5  
          members appointed by the Governor, subject to Senate  
          confirmation.  Section 200 of the Fish and Game Code delegated  
          to the FGC powers relating to the protection and propagation of  
          fish and game. Elsewhere, 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.  
          For example, the FGC is generally granted the power to regulate  
          hunting and fishing seasons. 

          3. State law 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.    

          PROPOSED LAW
          This bill has several components, all related to developing a  
          strategic vision for DFG and FGC that the author hopes will be  
          helpful in restoring and refocusing these entities on their work  
          in protecting California's natural resources. Specifically, the  

          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, should they  
          choose to participate. 

          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  

           5. Directs 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.

           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.  

          Defenders of Wildlife states that DFG's previous reliance on  


          hunting and fishing revenues is inadequate for its contemporary  
          tasks and that the result of a strategic planning process could  
          help both DFG and FGC again be leaders in natural resource  
          protection and stewardship. 

          California Council of Land Trusts notes that California is home  
          to approximately 110,000 species of plants and animals, of which  
          more than 350 are threatened or endangered. Additionally, the  
          state's extensive waterways, wilderness areas, and other public  
          lands are an integral part of the state's infrastructure and  
          deserve the best management and oversight that can be provided. 

          Several conservation groups have agreed to help fund the public  
          stakeholder process provisions of the bill, including Audubon,  
          CalTrout, Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, the Monterey Bay  
          Aquarium, and others. 

          The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) believes  
          that DFG should be supported with increased general fund  
          revenues and that the search for other DFG funding sources could  
          result in higher fees paid by its members, which ACWA would  

          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 both the most  
          populous and most 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.

          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.   Earlier this year, the Assembly Water Parks and  
          Wildlife Committee 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  
                     Need for greater conservation planning efforts  
          statewide, including for monitoring and data collection.
                      Need for greater clarity between roles of DFG and  
                      Need to expedite, prioritize and create incentives  
          in the permitting process for voluntary habitat restoration  
          projects 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  
                     Database system modernization, standardization,  
          management, coordination and public access should be high  

          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.

          In addition to the specific topics included in the bill, the  
          gubernatorial committee or task force may also raise topics that  


          are not included in the bill but that are considered important  
          or desirable. A non-exclusive list of both major and minor  
          topics that have been considered by stakeholders over the past  
          several years would include: (1) possible restructuring of the  
          department or a merger with other resource protection entities  
          in state government-several proposals have been developed, but  
          none has ever been endorsed by the administration or introduced  
          as legislation; (2) establishing qualifications or continuing  
          education requirements for the FGC commissioners, (3) comparing  
          methods by which other states choose a director; (4) enhancing  
          the FGC budget by creating a separate line item so that it is no  
          longer part of the DFG budget, (5) continued steps to help  
          reform the budgeting practices at the DFG,  and (6) considering  
          other funding mechanisms to help DFG with its well-known budget  

          It is interesting to note that the Legislature has three times  
          codified its awareness of the DFG budgeting problems, beginning  
          in 1978. 

          Another important factor in considering DFG and FGC is that,  
          especially for DFG, its conservation and resource planning  
          mandates have increased while its funding has decreased as  
          hunting and fishing license revenues have decreased. The number  
          of sportfishing licenses decreased nearly 14% from 2000 to 2008.  
          The number of hunting licenses has decreased 8% from 2000-2008  
          and nearly 25% since 1990. 

          DFG is supposed to pay for its hunting and fishing programs  
          through these fees while the department's non-game activities  
          are supposed to be paid for from the General Fund. It has not  
          worked that way for a long time. 

          1. Staff is suggesting, in the first amendment, that the  
          cabinet-level task force also recommend improvements to the role  
          of the commission. 

          2. While this bill represents an important step in focusing on  
          ways to improve the work of the DFG and FGC, the work of the  
          citizen commission should be undertaken as a project of the  
          state and directed by the secretary. The important role of the  
          stakeholder committee should not be dependent on private  
          funding, although the offer to help provide funding is clearly  
          well-intentioned.  The state costs are admittedly minor, but the  
          stakeholder process, which is a required component of the bill,  


          should not be dependent on the identification of non-state  
          funds, as currently provided. 

          To that end, the language on page 4, lines 12-16, should be  
          deleted. That said, nothing would prohibit the stakeholder  
          advisory group members from paying its own costs or sharing the  
          costs of the advisory group (for example, a facilitator) in an  
          arrangement such as a memorandum of agreement approved by the  
          secretary. The key point is that the process should be directed  
          by the secretary. 
               AMENDMENT 1  
               Page 2, line 8, after "department's" add "and commission's"  

               AMENDMENT 2 
                Page 4, lines 12-16, delete. 

          Green California
          California Fish and Game Commission
          Audubon California
          California Coastkeeper Alliance
          California Council of Land Trusts
          California Trout
          Defenders of Wildlife
          Monterey Bay Aquarium
          Pacific Coast Fed. of Fishermen's Associations
          The Nature Conservancy
          The Sportfishing Conservancy
          Trout Unlimited
          Trust for Public Land

          Association of California Water Agencies