CA State Legislative Update: March 2024

CA State Policy Update: March 2024


As we continue to navigate the state legislative session, we wanted to update you all about a series of bills that CA BHA is supporting. These pieces of legislation, if enacted, would help further expand and enshrine hunting access, promote wildlife connectivity to the benefit of vital game species, codify protections for state wetlands, and would advance information gathering on wildlife-vehicle collision, which would support wildlife conservation efforts. BHA is the voice for our public lands, water, and wildlife, and is fully engaged in making this California state legislative session as productive for conservation as possible. Check out some of our priority bills below: 


  • SB 1226 – Hunting Navigable Waters 
    • SB 1226 amends Section 2016 of the Fish and Game Code to make it consistent with a State Attorney General Opinion that found that hunting is an integral part of the public right of navigation; and, that Section 2016’s restriction on hunting navigable floodwaters is unconstitutional because it conflicts with Article X, Section IV of the California Constitution, which requires the State Legislature to protect the public’s access to navigable waters. A subsequent State Opinion also effectively reaffirmed this conclusion.  
    • This change will not only help ensure that sportsmen exercising their rights on navigable floodwaters are not wrongly cited for trespassing but will save the court system time and money. Most district attorneys are unaware of the State Opinions, and judges who have access to them typically dismiss that particular charge due to concerns about infringement on the public’s Constitutional rights.  
    • Please note that, under SB 1226, Section 2016’s restrictions on hunting still apply to any non-navigable waters and lands that meet the signage and other requirements of that Section.  
    • Furthermore, the bill does not affect any other provision in law, including other code sections that limit or ban hunting or the ability of the California Fish and Game Commission to further regulate the taking of game and fish on navigable waters. 
    • This is an obvious win for the hunting community and the public at large. In fact, BHA supported a version of this bill last session, as did a majority of state legislators, passing the bill and sending it to the Governor's desk. Unfortunately, Governor Newsom vetoed the bill. This year, SB 1226 hopes to address some of Governor Newsom’s concerns, while keeping the text of the bill simple in its goal: to ensure that American’s can legally hunt the waters of lands inundated by flooding.  


  • AB 1889/ AB 2320– Wildlife Habitat Connectivity 
    • AB 1889 
      • Existing law states that cities and county governments must adopt comprehensive general plans that consider things like land use regulations and housing elements. AB 1889 would add language requiring cities and counties to also consider wildlife connectivity in their general plans.  
      • Human development and impact has reduced natural habitat drastically across the country. Wildlife connectivity is the ability for species to move between non-developed areas. Increased wildlife connectivity vastly benefits species of all kinds, particularly larger wild game species that need larger habitats. AB 1889 would result in city and county governments considering connectivity more in their land use decisions and planning processes, resulting in increased protections and/or expansions for existing wildlife corridors. BHA supports protections for wildlife corridors and believes this legislation would help advance connectivity statewide.  
    • AB 2320 
      • Titled the Wildlife Connectivity and Climate Adaptation Act of 2024, AB 2320 would add requirements to existing 30x30 agency reviews focused on wildlife corridors. Currently, under Governor Newsom’s 30x30 goals, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) must consider and prioritize specific actions to advance the 30x30 conservation goals. AB 2320 would also require CNRA to include wildlife connectivity as a priority. This legislation would help enhance protections for wildlife corridors that are key for game and other keystone species.  
      • BHA supports the governmental decisions that benefit wildlife, connect habitat and increase the resilience of our local game populations. AS 2320 would help prioritize wildlife connectivity across the state.  


  • AB 2875 – Wetlands: State Policy  
    • Historical filling and development projects have reduced California wetlands to a mere 10 percent of their original extent. The loss of coastal wetlands is even more alarming with 95 percent of the formerly abundant lagoons and marshes along California’s 1,100-mile coastline having been destroyed. 
    • Currently, as directed by the Keene-Nejedly California Wetlands Preservation Act, the CNRA plans for the acquisition, protection, preservation, restoration, and enhancement of wetlands. AB 2875 declares that it is the policy of the state to ensure no net loss and long-term gain in the quantity, quality, and permanence of wetlands acreage and values in California.
    • California’s wetlands provide vital habitat for waterfowl, endangered species and multiple high value fish species. This bill helps enshrine a long-term protective vision for the states’ wetlands. BHA fights for public waters and quality habitat. AB 2875 help’s guarantee the long-term health and viability of those waters critical to conservation in California.   


  • SB 1163 – Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions Data Collection/Wildlife Salvage Permits 
    • Wildlife collisions are unfortunate but important opportunities to gather data on select species, helping further conservation efforts statewide. Existing law (SB 395 passed in 2019) authorizes the Fish & Game commission to develop a pilot program to study wildlife collisions and gather data relevant to ongoing conservation efforts. The pilot program has yet to be funded by the legislature despite broad support from both hunters and conservationists who recognize the often wanton waste of roadkill that could be consumed by willing citizens in addition to the valuable data that should be collected. 
    • SB 1163 would require, not authorize CDFW to develop a pilot program, placing a greater level of priority on advancing these data collection efforts. BHA supports science-based conservation and wildlife management, and SB 1163 would help state scientists and road ecologists have more data available, allowing them to make the most informed management decisions. This is critical to ensuring habitat connectivity is conserved and strategic wildlife crossings are built in California. 


To learn more about California BHA’s stance on any of these bills or to get involved with the chapter, please email us.  


About Joel Weltzien

Joel grew up backpacking and river running in rural Montana, and as an adult began hunting and fishing every chance he got. As California's Chapter Coordinator, Joel seeks to advance diverse coalitions in support of BHA's mission in the Golden State.

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