California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Strategic Initiative 2: Develop Statewide Land Stewardship

Purpose

  • Strategy 1: Evaluation of Current Process
  • Strategy 2: Developing Acquisition Priorities
  • Strategy 3: Identify Funding and Staffing

DFG is responsible for the management of over 1,000,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat. In total DFG manages 711 properties throughout the state. These properties provide habitat for a rich diversity of fish, wildlife, and plant species and comprise habitats from every major ecosystem in the state. In addition, DFG also administers several private lands conservation programs designed to assist landowners with the management of wetlands, riparian habitats, native grasslands and wildlife-friendly farmlands. The focus of the department’s initiative with respect to land stewardship is on creating an efficient process for assessing and recommending acquisition lands and then adequately managing those lands now and into the future.

Significant change has been made in regard to process evaluation, leading to a new strategy implemented in 2008 for evaluating and recommending projects to move forward to the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) for consideration. The Regional Operations Committee (ROC) has assumed the responsibility of the former Lands Committee in recommending land acquisition projects to move forward. To assist the ROC, new forms and procedures were put into place to expedite projects for consideration by the WCB.

DFG developed a product to identify geographic areas of conservation emphasis (Areas of Conservation Emphasis or “ACE”) and document these areas spatially on maps. ACE information is being used by DFG as a tool to assist in planning and prioritizing potential acquisition areas and landscapes for fish, wildlife and native plant communities’ conservation.

Funding sources remain uncertain and staffing DFG areas continues to be insufficient to fully accomplish stewardship goals. Staffing has become the limiting factor to effective management of wildlife areas and ecological reserves. DFG is experiencing retirements of key lands management positions that provided leadership and management experience important for on-the-ground conservation, management and restoration activities on DFG lands.

A DFG Lands Management and Policy Committee (LMPC) was formed and in 2009, they identified top management and policy issues to improve management of DFG lands, and have taken concrete steps to address the highest priority issues. The LMPC and the statewide lands program recently developed a comprehensive package to overhaul public use regulations for all DFG lands to make them clear and understandable to the public and DFG staff, to clarify requirements and procedures for allowing special uses, and to designate recently acquired properties as wildlife areas or ecological reserves. The first phase of the regulations overhaul has been submitted for consideration by DFG to the Fish and Game Commission, and if approved, would take effect in 2012.

Future Implementation

To effectively move Initiative 2 forward, DFG must:

  1. Identify adequate and consistent funding and full time, permanent, trained staffing for lands that DGF manages.
  2. Complete the overhaul of public use regulations, including specifying/changing current use practices as necessary to meet conservation objectives while providing for such public use
  3. Revise and update fee structures for compatible uses of department lands such that cost recovery is achieved.
  4. Incorporate DFG’s other initiatives related to succession planning and enhancing organizational vitality into the Lands Initiative to compensate for retirements and lack of interest in lands positions caused by career ladder limitations.
  5. Secure funding to pay local fees and assessments.
  6. Develop and implement strategies for effective water conservation, water quality, and drainage management.
  7. Develop commercial, public, partnership and agency use policies and associated fee structures for all uses commensurate with program costs that address federal program income requirements and return revenues back to lands.
  8. Improve site security theft, pot farms, homeless camps, under-age drinking, drug use, and vandalism all are factors affecting DFG lands.
  9. Evaluate, modify, and improve the land management planning process. DFG prepares land management plans for each new acquisition and the process is in need of reform.