February 8, 2018

California: Additional Funding Explored for Department of Fish and Wildlife

In recent years, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has grappled with financial shortfalls as a result of declining hunting and fishing license sales and an extensive backlog of deferred maintenance. Last year, a $19 million deficit was discovered in the Preservation Fund, which houses the Department’s Pittman Robertson and Dingell-Johnson funds (along with several other funds).

However, there is optimism about the Department’s financial security moving forward. Governor Brown’s final budget proposal, released last month, requests permanently increasing the Department’s current $533 million budget by $50.6 million. The California Legislature will discuss the Governor’s proposal in the coming months.

In addition to the Governor’s proposed increase, several measures are headed to the ballot box that would provide additional funds to the Department. Senate Bill 5, which will appear on California’s June ballot, would allocate $4 billion to parks, water, and flood control across the state. Of that, several hundred million dollars will go towards environmental projects – many of which are administered by CDFW. In addition to SB 5, another water bond is gathering the signatures necessary to appear on the November ballot, and contains hundreds of millions of additional dollars for wildlife.

The recent passage of Proposition 64 will also provide a boost to the Department. Approximately 20 percent of the tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana (of which the total tax revenue is expected to surpass $1 billion annually) is earmarked for use by CDFW and California State Parks for increased enforcement and mitigation of illegal marijuana farming across the state, which ranks among the Golden State’s most pressing environmental concerns.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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