BY DONNA WESTFALL
Did you know it’s going to cost $300,000 to change the name of the Department of FISH and GAME to FISH AND WILDLIFE? This organization has been around for 143 years. The department traces its origins to Spanish and Mexican laws enacted before California became a state. California created the nation’s first fish commission in 1870, expanded it to include game in 1878, added a Division of Fish and Game in 1927 and elevated it to the Department of Fish and Game in 1951. Captain John Sutter, among others, had been responsible for enforcing Mexican fish and game laws. Yet, today’s environmental activists think it’s time to change the name and change the scope of what the Department should do.
What do you think about that?
I just finished watching the January 8, 2013 Board of Supervisors meeting and in the last 5 minutes, learned about this tidbit. Sorta like GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). They’ve been around for 20 years but I just found out about them last year.
$300,000. Three hundred thousand dollars! THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!
How did this happen? I learned through research that then Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who included the name change in AB2402, said it came from the department’s advisory groups. Huffman was just elected Congressman in November. I’m glad I didn’t vote him in. I’ve never been a hunter, but I do want those who enjoy that sport to be able to continue, and those that hunt for food to also be able to continue. Also, I am a carnivore and while I’ve been a vegetarian for short times throughout my life, I have always enjoyed eating meat and fish.
Money from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for the department. These funds have been spent on land purchases, species rehabilitation, habitat restoration and other programs. I guess they thought they could just spend a little more and expand the scope of what the department covers. Governor Brown signed the name-change in late September, 2012, and he also approved a California ban on the centuries-old practice of using hounds to hunt bears and bobcats. The law took effect January 1, 2013.
The name change will cost more than the Legislature’s upper estimate of $300,000, mostly to redo the department’s website and computer systems. The current letterhead, uniforms, license forms, vehicle logos and other remnants will be used until they’re exhausted, he said, then replaced in the normal cost of doing business. I predict that this shift will come at the expense of those who hunt and fish and we’ll be cutting our throats when those who love to hunt and fish take their hobby or business out of California…. just like so much else that has left our state because of all the governmental red tape and bureaucracy.
I believe the money to change the name would better be spent easing the state’s lingering budget deficit.
The bill also beefs up the department’s law enforcement role and its use of science to guide policies that will be designed to protect entire ecosystems instead of individual species. It also allows it to increase and broaden its collection of fees beyond the money raised through hunting and fishing licenses. NOW, we’re at the meat and potatoes. Broaden the collection of fees. We get to watch as yet another government agency increases it’s budget, power and authority. Just think back over the last 40 years with the California Coastal Commission. Started in 1973 to give the public access to beaches; today it’s a multi-million dollar budgeted organization with quasi-judicial powers. I can’t wait to see that organization go the way of pet rocks.
Like the Marine Life Protection Act that I don’t believe interviewed enough fishermen/women in the industry; yet they have the law behind them as they section off areas that are now off limits for fishing. This began on November 19th, 2012. Soon, I predict we will see in our lifetime the killing of another industry.
I wonder just how many hunters and fishermen, were asked to take part in deciding the fate of Fish and Game uh Wildlife? My guess? Not enough.
Bill Gaines, president of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, said that they were outnumbered by the environmentalists.
His organization was one of four representing hunters on the department’s 51-member “stakeholder advisory group.” Another six organizations represented recreational and commercial fishermen.
The name change “was far from a consensus, I can tell you that,” Gaines said. “I think that what the proponents wanted to do was send a signal that we’re changing the foundation of the Department of Fish and Game — and that’s hunting and fishing.”
Brown also approved SB1249 by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, which will let the department contract with nonprofit conservation groups to manage state-owned lands and charge fees for using more of its properties. Maybe it’s time to open up your own non-profit so you can become a “conservation” group. Maybe we can get a group rate if we open enough non-profits to help “manage” state-owned lands and charge fees.