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More bills to watch in legislature -- water

03/17/15 -- The 2015 Session of the California State Legislature is finally nearing full speed. This Gaines & Associates “Special Report” will provide you with all you need to know regarding the positive bills we are working on behalf of our clients, as well as what challenges California’s hunting and wildlife conservation community will face this year.

For more information on any of the below bills, please contact Gaines & Associates at info@gainesandassociates.net

AB 367 (Dodd) – Clear Lake Wetlands AB 367 by Assembly Member Bill Dodd (D/04-Napa) would appropriate $2,400,000 from the Fish and Game Preservation Fund to the County of Lake for the purposes of restoring Clear Lake wetlands, maintaining the water quality of Clear Lake, preventing the spread of invasive species.

The Department of Fish and Game’s Fish and Game Preservation Fund is largely made up of revenue generated by the license, stamp and tag fees paid by California’s hunters and anglers. Gaines & Associates is concerned that the substantial hit of $2,400,000 to this fund will result in inadequate revenue for the Department to address what they consider higher priority needs. Further, since much of these dollars are generated by the outdoor community, we believe preference should be given to expenditures which provide enhanced outdoor recreational opportunity. With this in mind, Gaines & Associates is currently closely evaluating the appropriateness of AB 367 earmarking such a large block of Fish and Game Preservation Fund dollars specifically for the Clear Lake.

Gaines & Associates believes that the Department, not the State Legislature, has the expertise on where the Fund’s limited dollars are most needed to protect and promote our fish and wildlife resources and the recreational benefit they provide. As such, we are concerned about the precedent of the State Legislature earmarking Fish and Game Preservation Fund monies for their own selected purposes.

AB 367 will first be heard in Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. The bill has not been scheduled for hearing yet, but will be brought up later this month or in April.

SB 615 (Berryhill) – Groundwater Basin Adjudication SB 615, legislation by Senator Berryhill (R/08-Modesto), is a “spot bill” which currently proposes to streamline the process for the adjudication of groundwater rights. However, the bill will be soon amended to propose exemptions from onerous Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs) that may apply to lands which are artificially irrigated and managed to provide wetland habitat for the benefit of waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species. As currently laid out in law, the data gathering and cost associated with implementing WDR’s on managed wetlands could result in wetlands being lost to other land uses.

Gaines & Associates is working closely with Senator Berryhill and the bill’s sponsor – California Waterfowl Association – to ensure that the concerns of our wetland-related clients are fully addressed in the language eventually placed in SB 615, and to pass this bill into law.

Senator Berryhill is a member of our California Legislature Outdoor Sporting Caucus.

SB 615 has not yet been assigned to Committee, but will be first heard in Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee sometime in April.

Gaines & Associates is pleased to be actively monitoring/working all of the above bills for our clients. We also continually monitor all actions of the State Legislature on our client’s behalf, on the lookout for bills which may be suddenly amended in a way which impacts wildlife conservation and the future of our hunting heritage.

Gaines & Associates is active wherever decisions are being made which may impact wildlife conservation, your outdoor traditions, your outdoor investment or your rural lifestyle. Gaines and Associates keeps clients current on all issues of concern at all political levels via their “Issues and Status Reports” which are released to clients on a regular “as necessary” basis. For more information on other issues, or how Gaines and Associates can also help you protect your outdoor investment and interests, contact them at info@gainesandassociates.net.

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