BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó




                   Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
                            Senator Kevin de León, Chair


          SB 749 (Wolk) - Habitat protection: endangered species.
          
          Amended: April 16, 2013         Policy Vote: NR&W 9-0
          Urgency: No                     Mandate: No
          Hearing Date: April 29, 2013                      Consultant:  
          Marie Liu     
          
          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File.
          
          
          Bill Summary: SB 749 would allow lease revenues generated on  
          lands managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to be  
          used to manage those lands, make changes to the procedures for  
          listing threatened and endangered species, extend the sunset  
          date on accidental take provisions, and encourage the  
          enhancement of upland nesting cover and associated habitat.

          Fiscal Impact: 
              Cost pressure of up to $1.7 million for lost revenues to  
              the Wildlife Restoration Fund.
              Ongoing costs approximately in the low hundreds of  
              thousands of dollars from the Fish and Game Preservation  
              Fund (special fund) for increased DFW responsibilities when  
              reviewing whether a candidate species should be listed under  
              the California Endangered Species Act. 
              Ongoing costs approximately in the tens of thousands of  
              dollars and cost pressures in the hundreds of thousands of  
              dollars to the Upland Game Bird Account (special fund) in  
              the Fish and Game Preservation Fund.

          Background: 
          Lease Revenues- Existing law allows DFW to lease  
          department-managed lands for certain activities. Lease revenues  
          are required to be deposited in the Wildlife Restoration Fund,  
          which is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Board, where it  
          may be used to acquire lands and construct facilities suitable  
          for recreation and adaptable for conservation, propagation, and  
          utilization of fish and game resources. The Wildlife Restoration  
          Fund cannot be used for land management.

          Endangered Species Act- Existing law establishes numerous  
          procedural provisions in the California Endangered Species Act  








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          that pertain to the scientific review, the contents of the  
          administrative record, ground rules for public participation,  
          and the conduct of public hearings that may be involved in a  
          decision by the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC).

          Existing law allows "accidental take" of a candidate,  
          threatened, or endangered species that occurs in the course of  
          routine and ongoing agricultural activities until January 1,  
          2014.

          Upland game birds: Existing law requires a hunter to obtain an  
          upland game bird stamp before taking any upland game birds, such  
          as doves, sage grouse, wild turkeys, and quail. Stamp revenues  
          are deposited into the Upland Game Bird Account and are  
          available for expenditure, upon appropriation by the  
          Legislature, for the acquisition of land and projects that will  
          benefit upland game bird species and expanding public hunting  
          opportunities.  An advisory committee exists to review and  
          provide comments to DFW on all proposed projects to be funded by  
          upland game bird stamp revenues. For the past three years, stamp  
          revenues have been approximately $1.4 million annually.

          Proposed Law: 
          Lease revenue- This bill would allow, but not require, DFW to  
          use lease revenues for the operations and maintenance of the  
          lands which the lease revenues were generated.

          Endangered Species Act- This bill would:
                 Require DFW to seek independent scientific peer review  
               of the status report it prepares in order to indicate  
               whether a listing is warranted.  This provision would  
               sunset on January 1, 2017.
                 Extend the sunset date on the allowance of accidental  
               take of listed species in the course of routine and ongoing  
               agricultural activities until January 1, 2020.
                 Allow the FGC to close the public hearing and  
               administrative record of a hearing to consider a petition  
               to list a species, except under specified circumstances.

          Upland game birds- This bill would:
                 Require DFW to identify which department-managed lands  
               should be managed for the purpose of restoring and  
               enhancing upland nesting cover and associated habitat. The  
               upland game bird advisory committee would be required to  








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               annually solicit comments and recommendations from the  
               public regarding management of these lands.
                 Prohibit a state agency from penalizing a landowner or  
               imposing conditions on a water transfer because of  
               evapotranspiration by vegetation that grows naturally  
               without irrigation.
          .
          Staff Comments: Lease revenues- In December 2012, the Bureau of  
          State Audits (BSA) found that a supervisor with DFW improperly  
          implemented an agricultural lease agreement. The supervisor  
          directed the lessee to use state funds derived from the lease to  
          purchase $53,813 in goods and services that did not provide the  
          improvements and repairs the lease required. In addition, the  
          supervisor required the lessee to provide the State with $5,000  
          in Home Depot gift cards. This finding triggered a broader  
          review by DFW of its agricultural leases and grazing permits  
          that found "systemic violations of the law" with the grazing and  
          agricultural program. The review is still underway. According to  
          the director of DFW, lease revenues should have generated $1.7  
          million. However, lease revenues deposited in the Wildlife  
          Restoration Fund were less than $300,000 in FY 2011-12.

          Both the Assembly Budget Sub-committee #3 and Senate Budget  
          Sub-committee #2 have identified that the statutory requirement  
          for lease revenues to go to the Wildlife Restoration Fund have  
          fueled the inappropriate actions in the grazing and agricultural  
          program because DFW is severely underfunded for their land  
          management costs. Both subcommittees have directed DFW to  
          provide a proposed statutory amendment to allow lease revenues  
          to be used directly for management of leased lands. Should final  
          budget action be taken on this matter, this portion of the bill  
          will either need to be removed or amended in a manner consistent  
          with the budget action. Staff notes that lease revenues are  
          considered General Funds.

          Endangered Species Act- This bill would add a requirement that  
          DFW's status report to inform the listing of species under the  
          Endangered Species Act be subject to independent peer review.  
          This requirement would create additional workload to receive the  
          peer review then to modify the status report based on the peer  
          review. Given that there are five candidate species as of  
          January 2013 and assuming that the peer review requirement would  
          require at least the workload equivalent of a 0.25 PY, staff  
          estimates that the increased workload will likely have costs in  








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          the low hundreds of thousands of dollars. Staff notes that last  
          year the Legislature passed AB 2402 which among other things,  
          created the Science Institute within DFW. One of the purposes of  
          the Science Institute is to promote peer review. It is unclear  
          whether the Science Institute can help reduce the costs  
          associated with this peer-review requirement.

          Upland Game Birds - DFW would incur costs under this bill to  
          identify which department-managed lands should be managed for  
          the purpose of restoring and enhancing upland nesting cover and  
          associated waterfowl habitat. Once these lands are identified,  
          there would be additional cost pressures for providing those  
          management costs. Staff estimates that identifying the  
          appropriate lands would cause a one-time work load increase in  
          the high tens of thousands to low hundreds of thousands and  
          ongoing cost pressures in the hundreds of thousands.