California state Sen. Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) announced Sept. 29 that Senate Bill 1058, a measure to ensure that hunting license tag and stamp funds directly benefit game species and their habitats, has been signed into law. The measure was sponsored by the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA) and supported by the NRA.
“Senate Bill 1058 means wildlife and habitat restoration will once again be the priority of hunting tag and stamp fees,” said Harman. “That is what those fees are supposed to be used for—not bureaucratic paperwork. I am very pleased my bill has become law.”
Current law has allowed hunting tag funds to be used for non-game purposes. SB 1058 protects these funds by requiring that, before any of the hunting tag monies can be expended, hunting-related organizations would have an opportunity to review proposed projects and provide comment to the Department of Fish and Game. Specifically, SB 1058 will prevent big game tag and upland bird stamp monies from being misused for non-game or non-hunting purposes.
Combined, these revenues total roughly $11 million dollars each year.
“This much-needed law will ensure accountability and transparency over the state’s use of hunter-generated dollars,” said Mark Hennelly, vice president of COHA.
David Allen, President/CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and member of the COHA Board of Directors, agreed. “Passage of SB 1058 will substantially enhance our ability to do conservation work in California's elk country,” he said. “The fact that these additional state funds will be even further leveraged and supplemented—combined with our ability to now advise on project selection—will provide substantial benefits to RMEF’s mission accomplishment in the Golden State.”
The bill’s approval will annually reallocate an estimated $3.6 million of hunter-generated dollars back to their intended game conservation and hunting related uses. According to data from 2006 supplied by COHA, 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.
SB 1058 also consolidates various existing big game species fiscal accounts into a single account, which will improve fiscal efficiency and give the Department of Fish and Game greater flexibility to benefit all big game species.
“SB 1058 furthers two causes that I am passionate about: increased transparency in government spending and conservation of the environment,” Harman said.
SB 1058, signed into law on Sept. 28, was a reintroduction of Harman’s Senate Bill 589, which was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year.