Governor Signs Huffman Bills to Protect California Wildlife

Dan Okenfuss, September 25, 2012

California’s fish and wildlife will get stronger protections, thanks to Governor Jerry Brown’s signature today on two bills authored by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael).

Assembly Bill 1961, the Coho Salmon Habitat Enhancement Leading to Preservation Act, protects coho salmon that have virtually disappeared in some areas of California and are nearing extinction in others. It empowers the California Department of Fish and Game to use a one-stop process for approving immediate on-the-ground habitat restoration projects proposed by governmental and non-governmental partners ready to come to the aid of California’s struggling coho salmon populations.

“I want to applaud the Governor for recognizing that coho salmon cannot afford to wait and neither can the communities where these restoration projects will provide much needed jobs,” said Huffman. “This new law will allow us to work together to take immediate actions that yield near-term results.”

“The passage of AB 1961 is a huge step towards the restoration of our coastal salmon populations,” said Brian Johnson, California Director for Trout Unlimited. “Trout Unlimited thanks Assemblymember Huffman for his leadership on this very important issue.”

“The future of salmon conservation will be driven by partnerships among conservation groups, timber companies, ranchers, and other private landowners in coordination with resource management agencies,” said Brian Stranko, North & Central Coast Regional Director, The Nature Conservancy. “Thanks to Assemblyman Huffman’s leadership we are now on a path to develop restoration partnerships among industry and agriculture and conservation interests that provide a more encouraging path toward our mutual goal of salmon recovery.”

“We look forward to working hand-in-hand with the Department of Fish and Game as it implements this new policy,” said Curtis Knight, Conservation Director for California Trout. “AB 1961 will allow more habitat restoration projects to hit the ground than ever before. California Trout, Trout Unlimited, and The Nature Conservancy are eager to get this work done.”

“We thank the Governor and Assemblyman Jared Huffman for supporting solutions that make it easier for timber companies to participate in critical salmon restoration efforts,” said Mike Jani, Chief Forester, Humboldt and Mendocino Redwood Companies, Mendocino Redwood Company. “Restoration, afforded by these efforts, allows us to manage these productive forestlands with high standards of environmental stewardship.”

The second Huffman bill signed today is AB 2402 which would fundamentally improve the Department of Fish and Game by implementing the goals and recommendations of the department’s strategic vision process that involved over 50 diverse stakeholders and extensive public input.

AB 2402 would streamline permitting processes; improve the Department’s use of independent science; change the name of the Department of Fish and Game to the Department of Fish and Wildlife to accurately reflect the state agency’s broader mission; create an environmental crimes task force to facilitate prosecution of wildlife crimes; encourage intergovernmental coordination, nonprofit partnerships and use of credible science; extend benefits to fish and game wardens; allow for adjustment of fees for cost recovery; and study the feasibility of upgrading the Department’s electronic systems to track fish and game code violations.

“The health of California’s fish and wildlife populations, and the people and businesses that rely on them, depend on a well-functioning and competent Department of Fish and Game,” said Huffman. “This new law will enable the Department and the Commission to do a better job as public trustees for the state’s fish and wildlife, and for the people they serve.”

Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) represents the 6th Assembly District, which encompasses southern Sonoma County and all of Marin County. First elected in 2006, Huffman serves as Co-Chair of the Legislative Environmental Caucus.