As the 2010 waterfowl season begins, many of us will undoubtedly reflect on seasons past—skies filled with ducks and geese, and memorable hunts shared with friends, family, and canine companions
. Our passion for these cherished experiences forms the very fabric of our hunting heritage, and many of us dedicate our time, talent, and treasure to perpetuate those experiences and to help conserve the hunting lands we know and love.
As dedicated conservationists, we are keenly aware of the widespread habitat loss California has endured over past decades. With more than 95 percent of California's original 4 million acres of wetlands already lost, conservation of the state's remaining waterfowl habitat has never been more important. Unfortunately, keeping these last bastions of waterfowl habitat wet and vital is an ongoing struggle because of competition for limited resources and the lack of funds.
This fall, waterfowl hunters will have a historic opportunity to make a positive difference. On November 2, Californians will have a chance to vote "Yes" on Proposition 21. If enacted by the voters, it will assess an $18 fee on private vehicle registrations to be dedicated to the management and restoration of the state's wildlife areas. While designated as a "Parks" initiative, it contains a hugely important component for California's wetlands and other wildlife habitats. If approved, this proposition will provide at least $35 million annually that can only be used to support and manage the state's wildlife areas. These areas provide public hunting opportunities for thousands of duck hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts each season. Presently, these wildlife areas are supported largely through California's general fund, and there is great competition for the limited dollars in that fund. Importantly, funds provided by Proposition 21 will not be subject to budgetary competition. These funds will not compete with schools, public employee pensions, social welfare programs, or other programs.
The new funds will be used exclusively for managing the state's wildlife areas, and they will allow the California Department of Fish and Wildlife
to provide better waterfowl habitat—better than in the past and better than we could ever hope for in the future should this proposition fail. New and improved facilities for hunters and anglers, as well as much needed habitat restoration projects
, will help make these precious public areas more attractive for both wildlife and hunters.
Please support the Proposition 21 campaign and ask your friends, colleagues, and every hunter you know to do so as well. Most importantly, remember to vote Yes on Proposition 21 on November 2.
|H. Dale Hall
Chief Executive Officer
|Paul R. Bonderson, Jr.
Conservation Programs Committee
Sr. Advisory Vice President
Western Regional Office