California Governor Signs Legislation to Protect Hunting Tag/Stamp Monies
EDGEFIELD, S.C. —California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed Senate Bill 1058 to prevent hunter generated revenues from being misused for non-game or non-hunting purposes. The measure was authored by Senator Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) and sponsored by the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA).
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed Senate Bill 1058 to prevent hunter generated revenues from being misused for non-game or non-hunting purposes.
The bill's approval will annually reallocate an estimated $3.6 million of hunter-generated dollars back to their intended wildlife conservation and hunting related uses.
"These funds were generated by hunters and will be staying where they belong to the benefit of hunters and outdoor enthusiast of all types," said George Thornton, CEO of the NWTF and member of the COHA Board of Directors. "The passage of SB 1058 will substantially enhance the National Wild Turkey Federation's ability to do habitat work in California for wild turkeys and other upland species."
Since the 1980s, in an effort to address budget shortfalls and unfunded mandates in other areas, California has improperly redirected big game tag and upland bird stamp revenues.
Loopholes in state law allowed for a significant portion of deer tag funds and all bear tag monies to be used for non-game purposes, while a large percentage of wild pig tag funds simply remained unspent or were redirected. According to the state's own data from 2006, only 62 percent of deer tag revenue was actually used for deer-related projects. Similarly, only 64 percent of wild pig tag money and 48 percent of wild sheep auction tag money was used for related conservation work.
Under COHA-sponsored SB 1058, state law will now requirethatall user fee revenues generated from bear, elk, wild sheep, antelope, wild pig, deer and upland game bird stamps and tags be used for big game and upland bird conservation, and public hunting purposes. Combined, these revenues total roughly $11 million each year.
"This much-needed law will ensure accountability and transparency over the state's use of hunter-generated dollars," stated Mark Hennelly, Vice President of COHA.
In addition, the measure requires the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) consult with, and seek input from, hunting-related organizations on proposed projects before tag and stamp funds can be spent.
The new law also consolidates existing big game species fiscal accounts into a single account, which will improve efficiency in the use of tag funds and give DFG greater flexibility to benefit all big game species.
For more than three years, COHA worked with its sporting allies and COHA member organizations - including the NWTF, California Deer Association, Mule Deer Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, California Houndsmen for Conservation, California Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and California Waterfowl - to pass this legislation in order to safeguard hunters' dollars.
The California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) is a nonprofit 501(C)4 political advocacy organization dedicated to promoting wildlife conservation and protecting our hunting heritage. For more information, visit www.outdoorheritage.org.
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