Governor Signs SB1058 – Assures Tag and Stamp Money will be used for Conservation

For several years, the COHA has worked with The Mule Deer Foundation and other conservation groups to pass legislation that will assure that money from tag and stamp sales will be used for conservation.

In the past, tag and stamp money has been funneled away from intended uses creating great consternation for hunters. In an effort to correct this problem, COHA  (supported by members of many conservation organizations) has pursued a legislative solution.

After passing through the state legislature for three straight years, Governor Schwarzenegger finally signed SB1058 into law this week after twice vetoing it.

COHA staff, especially Mark Hennelly and Jason Rhine, displayed great patience and adaptability while working with conservationists and legislators over a period of years to guide SB1058 to fruition. This bill creates a building block for future conservation legislation.

Congratulations to Bill, Mark, Jason, Christine and the entire COHA board of directors.

I’m sure we’ll all be back soon to build on this success.

COHA: A Huge Agenda for CA Hunters

The California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) held its annual meeting for members last week. The program showed that they are seemingly involved in every facit of California wildlife conservation. A non-profit 501 c4 organization, COHA, has the ability to lobby the state legislature in support of legislation that benefits hunters and fishermen as well as lobby against legislation that damages their members.

Here are a few of the areas where COHA is active:

State

State Legislature: Lobbies in support of and opposition to legislation affecting hunters.

State Resource Agencies: Created the SHARE program creating additional hunting opportunity for California sportsmen. Supports public hunting on Refuges and Wildlife Areas

California Fish and Game Commission: Routinely appears before the F&G Commission on behalf of hunters. Works with F&G Commission subcommittees such as the Al Tausher Committee. 

Federal:

U. S. Congress

Regional:

Willow Creek Mutual Water District – Lambertville, Black Point Sports Club – Sonoma County, Suisun Marsh – Bay/Delta, Grasslands – San Joaquin Valley, Tulare Basin Wildlife Management Area – Southern San Joaquin Valley, Mystic Lake – Riverside County, Klamath Basin

Political Action: COHA raises funds in support of pro-conservation candidates for the California legislature. COHA meets with candidates to develop support for the California Department of Fish and Game for the benefit of hunters and fishermen.

COHA obtains much of its funding via donations from conservation organizations such as the Mule Deer Foundation, California Waterfowl Association, California Deer Association, National Wild Turkey Association, Delta Waterfowl Association and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Funding is also obtained by individual donors, the Outdoor Industry, Hunting and Shooting Clubs.

COHA organizes a few events each year to generate funding without competing with other conservation groups. COHA also lends a hand to other organizations to assist them with fundraising.

COHA plays a private sector role in organizing and promoting the California Legislative Outdoor Sporting Caucus. Activities include a dinner, trap shoot and tours to help educate Caucus members and their staff on hunting related issues of importance.

Here’s a link to the COHA website where you can obtain more details about COHA and find out how you can support their efforts: http://outdoorheritage.org/

COHA staff, director and members posed for a group picture before departing from the Members Meeting last week. (L to R) MDF Regional Director – Randy Morrison, COHA Member and Wilderness Unlimited Manager – Rick Copeland, COHA Vice President for Legislative Affairs – Mark Hennelly, MDF President/CEO and COHA director – Miles Moretti, and COHA Directors of Development – Rick Bulloch and Gretchen Heffler.

California Hunting Opportunity Under all-out Assault by Humane Society of the US?

This email message just came in from Rick Bullock of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance. He paints an accurate picture of what’s happening in California. Hunters must take action. Groups like the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) need support from hunters everywhere. California is targeted for action by these anti-hunting groups because it’s the weakest link in the chain. Once they snap the California link, they’ll be off and running.

Hello all, 

I’m writing to bring you up to speed on several important issues COHA staff have worked over the last week, as well as to provide an update on two key committee hearings scheduled for Tuesday morning. 

First, I attended the US Forest Service National Planning Rule meeting in Sacramento on April 6th to promote and protect hunting opportunity on federal land and was very concerned to learn that “recreation” wasn’t even mentioned in the “guiding principles” for the new plan, which addresses current and future needs of the 155 national forests and 20 grasslands in the National Forest System. Yes, you read this correct, and the plan is for all forest lands in the nation, not just our state.  Additionally, COHA President Bill Gaines attended the California Fish and Game Commission meeting, held in Monterey on April 7th and 8th, to stymie the Humane Society of the United States’ attempt to disrupt hunting management decisions that are based on the best available scientific data. Specifically the animal rights groups are strongly opposing the mammal hunting regulations that will guide big game hunting through 2012.  It was reported that at the meeting, HSUS and other anti-hunting groups outnumbered COHA and other interested sportsmen by 20 to1.

 Finally, our outdoor heritage will be in the spotlight tomorrow in the state legislature and COHA staff lobbyists Mark Hennelly and Jason Rhine will be there to ensure California’s sportsmen and their conservation groups are represented. We are entering a time when sportsmen must finally grasp that our outdoor traditions are under a full assault from all directions. Below is a snapshot of some, not all, of the bills and hearings Mark and Jason will be covering tomorrow.

The Assembly Water Parks and Wildlife Committee will hear AB 2223 (Nava), which would prohibit the use of lead shot on the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Wildlife Areas and public shooting grounds.  The bill is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and several environmental groups. The California Outdoor Heritage Alliance is strongly opposed to AB 2223 because it substitutes politics for sound science.

On April 5, 2010, Assembly Member Feuer (D-Los Angeles) amended AB 1810 to require the Attorney General of California to permanently keep and maintain a firearms registry that includes extensive personal information of all firearms purchasers. Under AB 1810, those who purchase a firearm will be required to register that firearm by submitting their name, address, place of birth, phone number, occupation, and sex to the California Department of Justice.  COHA is in opposition to this bill and feels AB 1810 is little more than an extreme invasion of California Sportsmen’s personal privacy.

 Assembly Member Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) has introduced AB 2186 to prohibit a person from owning, purchasing or possessing a firearm for 10 years for violating the state’s “loaded firearms” laws. COHA opposes this legislation because it imposes an overly harsh penalty on hunters who may unwittingly violate loaded firearms laws.

For more information on these bills or other legislation of interest, please visit our website at www.outdoorheritage.org   

News Release: California Senate Committee Passes Important Species Conservation Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         Contact: Eileen Ricker

Date:   March 24, 2010                                                   (916) 651-4035

Senate Committee Passes Important Species Conservation Legislation

 Sacramento — Senator Tom Harman ( R-Huntington Beach ) announced today that Senate Bill 1058 has passed out of the Senate Natural Resources & Water committee. SB 1058 seeks to ensure that hunting license tag and stamp funds benefit game species and their habitats. The bill is sponsored by the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA).

 “I am extremely pleased that my colleagues have demonstrated their dedication to conserving our environment by unanimously passing SB 1058 out of committee today,” said Harman.

“Hunters and sportsman pay good money for tags and stamps with the expectation that those dollars will be spent for species conservation.  This measure will ensure that is the case.”

Current law, particularly as it relates to bear and deer tag monies, does not always require that the monies be used for a dedicated purpose. Unfortunately, these funds have been continuously used for non-game purposes. SB 1058 will require that, before any of these hunting monies can be expended, hunting-related organizations would have an opportunity to review proposed projects and provide comment to the Department of Fish and Game.

“SB 1058 will provide the accountability and transparency necessary to restore the hunting community’s confidence in the tag and stamp system,” stated Mark Hennelly, Vice President of COHA.  “Hunters have a long and proud history of providing wildlife conservation funding, and will gladly continue to do so as long as the monies are used appropriately.”

“SB 1058 will further two causes that I am passionate about: increasing transparency in government spending and conservation of the environment,” said Harman.

SB 1058 will now be sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further review

Senator Harman represents the cities of Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Rossmoor, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine, Cypress, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Laguna Beach, Dana Point and portions of Buena Park, Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Westminster. 

COHA and Members Celebrate Alliance in Sacramento

This just in from the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA).
Linda and I attended and had a great time.

On Saturday, December 5th, the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) hosted its member conservation organizations, outdoor industry and individuals at the first annual “COHA Alliance Celebration” in Sacramento.  The event offered a full day program which focused on the need for those in the hunting and wildlife conservation community to better unite and coordinate efforts to more effectively protect our wildlife resources and promote our outdoor heritage for generations to come.  Topics included enhanced coordination on youth education programs, political action, firearm rights and other issues of importance to the hunting community.  The evening’s dinner banquet offered an opportunity to highlight the integral political role COHA plays in helping conservation organizations accomplish their mission, keeping outdoor industry in business and passionate individuals in the field.  The event’s auction and raffle helped to raise critical funds for COHA to continue its essential work on behalf of California’s hunting community. For additional information see http://www.outdoorheritage.org/event.php

Some Good News – SB1423 Signed into Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                Contact: Jason Rhine

October 13, 2009                                                                                                                    (916) 643-4607

Governor Signs Pro-Hunting Bill into Law

 

Sacramento, California – On October 11th, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1423, a measure authored by Assembly Member Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) that significantly reduces existing commercial hunting club license fees; promotes full implementation of California’s “public access to private lands” hunting program (SHARE); and expands and increases penalties for willfully interfering with hunting, fishing, trapping, falconry and recreational shooting activities.  AB 1423 was sponsored by the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA).

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done on AB 1423,” stated Assembly Member Berryhill.  “This is an important bill which will substantially promote hunting opportunities in our state and help protect hunters in the field.  It was a pleasure working with the staff of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) and, while the bill was met with its share of resistance, this is a victory for Californian’s who share a common affinity for outdoor recreation.”

AB 1423 will help maintain and improve hunting opportunity in our state by keeping hundreds of commercial hunting operations across the state in business. Specifically, AB 1423 will control fees assessed to commercial hunting clubs by prohibiting the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) from charging a separate permit fee for each individual property or parcel used for commercial hunting purposes.  Prior to AB 1423, commercial hunting clubs were charged $376 for each property in their control, putting some larger clubs at risk by subjecting them to several thousands of dollars in annual fees. AB 1423 eliminates DFG’s current fee schedule, instead establishing a much lower sliding scale fee structure ranging from $200 for one property managed by a club to a maximum of $2,000 annually for 11 or more properties per club.

Additionally, AB 1423 will facilitate full implementation of the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program – a “public access to private lands” hunting program – and greatly facilitate its ability to attract federal funding made available in the 2008 Farm Bill. Under AB 1423, the SHARE Program will now be allowed to expand from what is currently a small, regional pilot program for waterfowl to a statewide hunting access program for all game species.  AB 1423 will help SHARE provide California’s public with relatively low cost, high quality hunting access to the lands of willing private landowners throughout the state.

Lastly, AB 1423 strengthens the criminal penalties for members of the public interfering with hunting, fishing, trapping, falconry and recreational shooting so that it may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor on the first offense.  Additionally, AB 1423 expands the definition of lawfully protected activities to include hunting dog training and field trials.  The bill also specifically bans such actions as 1) placing gates or barricades to block access to public lands without authorization and 2) placing bait on property so as to prevent lawful hunting.

“AB 1423 clearly demonstrates COHA’s commitment to making positive change on behalf of sportsmen and women in California,” stated Jason Rhine of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance.  “By working together, hunters can help ensure that future generation will have an opportunity to take part in our hunting heritage.

The California Outdoor Heritage Alliance is a 501(c) 4 non-profit political advocacy organization dedicated solely to the promotion of wildlife and the protection of our hunting heritage. COHA professional staff is active at the California State Legislature, Congress, State Fish and Game Commission, State and Federal resource agencies and all other political arenas where decisions are made which may impact wildlife management, habitat conservation, wildlife program funding, hunting access and opportunity, and your ability to purchase and possess sporting arms and munitions.  COHA was created in early 2006 by the California Waterfowl Association.  For more information on COHA and its efforts, visit their website at www.outdoorheritage.org

SB589 (DFG Transparency Bill) – Terminated by Governor

Yesterday was a down day for those who worked hard to put SB589 on the Governor’s desk. That’s where the bill died for the second year in a row. At least this year the Governor gave a reason, however lame. Here’s what Mark Hennelly, Vice President of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance had to say about the Governor’s action, “Hi all.  In case you didn’t see SB 589 was vetoed.  See veto message http://gov.ca.gov/pdf/press/2009bills/SB589_Harman_Veto_Message.pdf 

 Can’t say I agree with the Gov’s reasoning (e.g. bill increases complexity and reduces DFG’s flexibility) as SB 589 would have actually simplified things by saying exactly how the stamp/tag monies would have to be spent, increasing transparency and consolidating existing big game accounts into a single account.  As for the argument that the bill is redundant of DFG’s effort to post budget info on the internet, there is currently no detailed list of completed projects for all big game species that I can find on the Department’s website, only general budget info with no meaningful detail.

In some ways the veto is very surprising, given that is passed the Legislature almost unanimously, DFG and the Resources Agency were OK with it, and the Department of Finance had removed its opposition.  Our author, Senator Harman, was also not notified prior to the veto (which is standard practice with members of the same party). On the other hand, the state would have had to take $3 million (which is the amount our game programs are being ripped off according to the Assembly Appropriations Committee) to backfill DFG’s budget from the General Fund or other sources, which is not good given the State’s ongoing budget deficit.

Regardless, I wanted to thank you all your efforts on this and urge you not to get discouraged.  Sometimes bills are more about timing than anything else and we will definitely run this bill again at the appropriate time in the future.  In the meanwhile, we plan to oppose any effort to raise fees for over the counter license tag/stamps or hunter application fees until it can be definitely shown that the monies are used appropriately.”

It’s sometimes not a great idea to spout off while you’re POed, but I’ll do it anyway, because (after years of restraint) I’m very tired of being diplomatic about this topic.

Due to a lack of accountability for funds raised, some organizations have already stopped supporting the sale of California Big Game Fundraising tags (RMEF). If the state is unable to provide proper over site for these types of dedicated accounts, other conservation groups will probably follow. A lack of support for the sale of these tags would be a shame, but the funds derived from these sources are minor when looked at in the scope of the state budget.

Because the law places user fees (money obtained through the sale of hunting stamps and tags)  in a different category than taxes, and management of these CDFG dedicated accounts (which are mostly derived from the aforementioned  user fees) should be a no-brainer to manage, however as is often the case, government has managed to turn this into a untraceable quagmire – and now the governor has validated what many of the fee payers suspected. What he really said in his veto message was that keeping the public out of the picture makes their job easier and administration of the fund without oversite increases their flexibility to do what they want with the money – even if it’ violates the intent of the law.

Sad to say, but poachers and tax cheats probably justify their actions  in a similar manner.

The Mule Deer Foundation supports SB 589

On April 9, 2009, the following letter was sent to the Honorable Fran Pavley, Chair of the California Senate Natural Resouces and Water Committee. 

                 

RE:     SB 589 (Harman) – SUPPORT

 

Dear Senator Pavley:

 

On behalf of The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF), I am writing you to urge your support of SB 589 (Harman), which would provide greater accountability and transparency over the use of hunting license tag and stamp revenues.

 

MDF is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to conserve mule and blacktail deer and their habitat. MDF believes that hunting license tag and stamp revenue is critical to the preservation and enhancement of habitat for deer and other California wildlife.

 

SB 589 would require that hunting license tag and stamp monies be used for game species conservation and related purposes.  In addition, the bill would require that MDF and other sportsmen’s groups have an opportunity to review and provide comment on proposed projects funded with the monies.

 

It should also be noted that the bill, through account consolidation, improves efficiencies in the use of the monies and also helps ensure that there are sufficient funds available for each big game species, regardless of the number of tags sold for a particular species. SB 589 would also facilitate greater assistance with habitat projects by nonprofits, like MDF, who specialize in game species conservation.

 

Please support SB 589 when it is considered before your committee.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rich Fletcher

State Chair

The Mule Deer Foundation

Fiscal Assessment of SB1172 which will come before the CA Assembly Appropriations Committee in mid-August

Date of Hearing:   July 2, 2008

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                  Mark Leno, Chair

                    SB 1172 (Dutton) – As Amended:  June 25, 2009

          Policy Committee:                             Water, Parks & 
          Wildlife     Vote:                            12-0

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program: 
          No     Reimbursable:              

          SUMMARY

          This bill restructures the process by which the Department of 
          Fish and Game (DFG) deposits and spends the revenue generated by 
          the sale of various hunting tags, stamps, and validations, and 
          requires DFG to propose adequate funding for implementing a new 
          specified program in the 2009-10 governor’s budget.

          FISCAL EFFECT

          1)Major reallocation, in the range of $3 million annually 
            starting 2008-09, of revenue generated by various hunting 
            tags, stamps, and validations, from the Fish and Game 
            Preservation Fund (FGPF) to newly-created accounts to benefit 
            the hunting of various types of game animals.

          2)Major GF cost pressures, starting in 2008-09, to replace 
            funding no longer available to support DFG’s general 
            activities as a result of the above reallocation.

          3)Moderate GF cost pressures, in the range of $500,000 in 
            2009-10, to develop plans to implement the strategies in the 
            already-adopted California Comprehensive Wildlife Action Plan 
            (CalCWAP).

         

SUMMARY CONTINUED

         

 

Specifically, this bill:

          1)Reallocates revenue generated by the sale of various hunting 
            tags, stamps, and validations and the use of hunting areas 
            operated by DFG to the following proposed accounts:

                                                                 SB 1172
                                                                
Page  2

             a)   Antelope Tag Account.
             b)   Elk Tag Account.
             c)   Wildlife Management Areas Hunting Programs Account.
             d)   Upland Game Bird Account.
             e)   Deer Tag Account.
             f)   Wild Pig Account.
             g)   Bear Tag Account.
             h)   Bighorn Sheep Account.

          2)Allows DFG to make grants or enter into contracts with 
            nonprofit organizations for the use of the funds in each of 
            the accounts listed in #1, and exempts funded projects from 
            the State Contract Act and provisions encouraging the use of 
            small business enterprises run by disabled veterans.

          3)Requires DFG to annually maintain on its Internet website, and 
            include in the governor’s budget, a fund condition statement 
            that displays information on the condition of revenues and 
            expenditures for each of the accounts listed in #1.

          4)Requires DFG, as part of its 2009-10 budget proposal, to 
            include adequate funding to begin the process of developing 
            plans to implement CalCWAP strategies.
         
          COMMENTS

          1)Rationale .  This bill’s sponsor, the California Outdoor 
            Heritage Alliance, a private organization comprised of 
            wildlife conservation and hunting groups, contends that 
            revenue generated by the sale of hunting tags, stamps, and 
            validations for particular game animals should be dedicated 
            exclusively to the management of those individual animals and 
            to providing hunting opportunities.  The sponsor also believes 
            that funding should be identified to begin implementing the 
            CalCWAP’s recommendations to protect and conserve non-game 
            wildlife species.

          2)Background .   The FGPF, the primary funding source for the 
            DFG, receives most of the revenue generated from hunting and 
            fishing related fees.  Total revenue deposited into the FGPF 
            is projected to be $85.2 million in 2008-09, with $72.8 
            million of this amount generated from hunting and fishing 
            licenses, tags, and permits.  The FGPF is composed of both 
            dedicated and non-dedicated accounts, the latter being 

                                                                 SB 1172
                                                                
Page  3

            available to support DFG’s general activities related to fish 
            and game programs.  DFG’s non-game programs are required to be 
            paid from the General Fund or other available sources.

            This bill shifts a significant portion of the $13.3 million of 
            revenue generated from the sale of specific tags, stamps, and 
            validations from the FGPF to the proposed dedicated accounts.  
            While most of this revenue is already being used to support 
            programs directly related to individual game species, this 
            bill dedicates that revenue in statute and removes the 
            department’s discretion to use it for other purposes.

          3)CalCWAP .  The State Wildlife Grants Program, enacted by 
            Congress in 2000, requires states, as a condition of receiving 
            federal grant funds, to prepare and submit a comprehensive 
            wildlife conservation strategy or wildlife action plan to the 
            U.S. Fish and Game Service.  The grant program supports state 
            programs that provide broad wildlife and habitat benefits.  
            The DFG submitted CalCWAP in 2006 and is in the process of 
            implementing plan provisions.

           

 

Prop 84, approved by voters at the November 2006 statewide 
            election, authorized the issuance of $5.388 billion worth of 
            state general obligation bonds for various resources-related 
            projects and programs.  Prop 84 earmarks $135 million to the 
            Wildlife Conservation Board to develop, rehabilitate, restore, 
            acquire, and protect habitat that, among other things, 
            implements the recommendations of CalCWAP.

          Analysis Prepared by :    Steve Archibald / APPR. / (916) 
          319-2081