What’s in a name?
A new bill passed today in Sacramento changes the name of California Department Fish & Game to “Fish & Wildlife.”
It may sound symbolic more than anything else. But the bill’s author, Assemblymember Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, believes it more accurately emphasizes the broader mission of the state agency, which is not only in charge of hunting but maintaining the state’s ecological diversity.
Just in case it’s not clear. Here’s the department’s official mission statement:
The Mission of the Department of Fish and Game is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.
On top of that, this bill, alongside a second bill that both sit on the governor’s desk, give Fish & Game (or, rather, Fish & Wildlife) more teeth to do its business. Huffman’s AB 2402 creates an “environmental crimes task force” to better prosecute wildlife crimes, like poaching, and mandates a study to upgrade the department’s system of tracking fish and game code violations.
The bill also attempt to put the department on a better financial footing, nothing to snuff at in this age of budget cutbacks. SB 1148 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, authorizes the department to recoup costs from fee-based programs, and appropriates $1 million to improve trout hatcheries.
“These bills 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,” said Huffman in a press release.
And people were just complaining about how so few environmental bills made it out of Sacramento this year.
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Trout stopped swimming upstream from San Pablo Reservoir after the construction of a small dam in the 1960s. But when storms and workers cleared debris from the dam, the trout swam past.