It was only weeks ago that anglers and hunters breathed sighs of relief as California State Assemblyman Ash Kalra’s (D-San Jose) ill-conceived AB 3030 died in Senate committee, the victim of its boundless overreach. This bill, all go and no show, sought to preserve 30% of California’s land and waters by 2030 as a hedge against climate change but was woefully lacking in details and definitions. It was high on aspirations and short on solutions. Simply put, it was bad legislation.
Angler and hunter advocacy organizations were steadfast and unanimous in their opposition to AB 3030 for myriad reasons. It did not recognize any of the existing protections and management already in place, among the most stringent and protective in the world. There was no mechanism for angler and hunter participation in the decision-making process, and no source or even analysis of the sure to be steep costs. Advocacy organizations proposed amendments that would make 3030 acceptable. They were ignored.
AB 3030 was so much of an open-ended blank check and so universally opposed by a broad swath of industries, county governments and outdoor recreation organizations it failed to pass out of Senate committee even with a Democratic super-majority.
California Governor Gavin Newsom shrugged aside the vast, bipartisan opposition to AB 3030 when he autocratically bypassed the legislature and shoved 3030 down the throats of California citizens via Executive Order N-82-20. As an Executive Order, it too lacks a funding mechanism. It directs establishment of a California Biodiversity Collective and orders the California Natural Resources Agency to work with the new Collective to develop and report strategies by Feb. 1, 2022, to meet the 30% land and water conservation goals by 2030.
Angler and hunter interests should at least have seats at the table, as the Order calls for the participation of natural resource user groups and an expansion of equitable outdoor access and recreation for all Californians. Noble words, but we remember how the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) that developed a statewide network of Marine Protected Areas operated under the aegis of private environmental NGO cash, stacking the deck for those in favor of vast closures despite active fisheries management that has rehabilitated fish stocks ahead of schedule.
The 3030 push is largely funded – like the MLPA – by private money, in this case a billion dollar pledge by medical device manufacturing tycoon Hansjörg Wyss and his Wyss Foundation. It’s little wonder why anglers take one look at 3030 and see it for what it is: MLPA 2.0. It will take quite a bit of convincing to prove the fix isn’t in. The Governor’s undemocratic action shows the finger is quite heavily leaning on the scale again.