Today, California State Senate leaders introduced a drought relief package to blunt the impacts of expected water shortages following an extremely dry winter. The “Senate Budget Plan on Drought, Safe Drinking Water, Water Supply Reliability, and Ratepayer Assistance” would provide funding for water efficiency and water recycling projects, as well as critically needed fish and wildlife protections against drought impacts among other things.
Rachel Zwillinger, water policy advisor at Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“California’s fish and wildlife are facing dire conditions during this extremely dry year. Pacific Flyway birds and other wetland wildlife will suffer from dramatic habitat reductions and endangered fish, including salmon, will face dangerously low flows and fatally high water temperatures. The Senate’s package, introduced under the leadership of Pro Tempore Atkins, throws a critical life line to vulnerable species during this drought. Defenders of Wildlife thanks Senate leadership for their efforts to protect California’s biodiversity and urges swift passage of this essential drought relief package.”
- The package would allocate $285 million to protect wildlife and fish from drought impacts.
- $100 million would go to the Wildlife Conservation Board for grants pursuant to the guidelines of the Streamflow Enhancement Program, including short term acquisition and transfer of water
- $100 million would go to the Wildlife Conservation Board for grants pursuant to the Inland Wetlands Conservation program, assisting wildlife friendly agriculture and improving conditions on wildlife refuges and wetland habitats in the Central Valley
- $35 million would go to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, with $20 million supporting management of drought response and $15 million going to the Coastal Monitoring Program to monitor drought effects on coastal salmon populations
- $50 million would go to the Department of Parks & Recreation for drought-related projects to preserve and protect fish and wildlife on its lands