SACRAMENTO — Governor Brown has signed into law SB 1249 to enhance the operation and funding of Department of Fish and Game (DFG) managed lands.
The bill was authored by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and sponsored by the California Waterfowl Association (CWA). It also received support from other sporting organizations, including the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance.
The new state law specifies that hunting, fishing and other wildlife-dependent recreation are the compatible, priority uses of Wildlife Areas and other DFG lands. Similar federal legislation passed in 1997 for the National Wildlife Refuge System has helped protect hunting opportunities on federal lands from legal challenges by anti-hunting groups.
Where DFG lacks funding or personnel to provide land operations, the new law will also make it easier for DFG to partner with conservation nonprofits for that purpose. This will allow hunting organizations to enter into cooperative agreements with DFG for the administration of public hunting programs on the Wildlife Areas, if needed.
“The signing of SB 1249 will help ensure that DFG can maintain the high quality habitat and hunting opportunities that it provides on its lands by using the added assistance of its private conservation partners,” stated Mark Hennelly, Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Public Policy for CWA.
In addition, where it is practical and cost-effective, non-consumptive users of DFG lands will be required, beginning Jan. 1, 2015, to purchase a pass to help fund land management activities — similar to what is already required of hunters and fishermen.
A separate provision of the new law will increase accountability and transparency over the use of fish and game fine monies by local counties by requiring that all proposed expenditures first be reviewed in a public hearing. This will help ensure that monies are used more efficiently and effectively for local fish and game conservation projects, as well as public hunting and fishing opportunities.
For more on CWA’s Legislative work and other conservation activities, please visit www.calwaterfowl.org.