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spectr17
01-16-2009, 8:53 PM
COHA Field Wire

http://www.outdoorheritage.org

January 16, 2009 No. 2008-23

Governor's Proposed Budget Fix Targets Conservation Programs

In an attempt to plug budget holes, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to "borrow" $30 million dollars from the Fish and Game Preservation Fund - the account where hunting and fishing license fees, all bear tag monies, a significant portion of deer tag funds, and many other hunter/angler generated revenues are deposited. This proposal would not only facilitate the further misuse of hunter and angler dollars at the state level, but would undermine the Department of Fish and Game's ability to carry out its wildlife conservation mandates - including providing adequate enforcement in the field. While the proposal would require that the loan be repaid by 2013, it is unclear exactly how this would be accomplished.

The Governor is also proposing to eliminate state funding for the Williamson Act; a program that currently protects 16.4 million acres of farm ground - including wildlife-friendly agricultural lands such as flooded rice and corn fields leased for hunting - from conversion to non-agricultural uses. The 42-year-old program gives farmers a tax break in return for them agreeing to not develop their property, typically for a 10 year period. The state funding targeted for elimination consists of subventions to local counties to reimburse them for lost tax revenue. Without the state subventions, most counties would simply not participate in what has proven one of California's most successful land conservation programs.

California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) will actively work both of these issues at the State Capitol over the coming weeks to protect these critical funding streams from being ripped off for unrelated uses. COHA also urges hunters, anglers and other conservationists to contact their Senator and Assembly Member to ask that these proposals be soundly rejected due to their negative impacts on habitat protection, wildlife and fishery conservation efforts, and hunting and fishing opportunity.

To find your Legislator, go to http://www.legislature.ca.gov/port-zipsearch.html