Assemblywoman Susan Davis increases protection of California's wetlands

by Aice Martinez

ssemblywoman Susan Davis' plan to preserve and protect the states endangered wetlands has been signed into law. The Keene-Nejedly-Davis California Wetlands Preservation Act, directing the California Resources Agency to submit a comprehensive plan for the identification, preservation and restoration of the state's wetlands, will take effect January 1, 2001.

"With the passage of Propositions 12 and 13 in March 2000, the people of California have provided the state with unprecedented financial resources to acquire, restore, preserve, and manage wetlands," said Davis. "To ensure that this money is invested wisely, we must develop a comprehensive conservation plan. This bill does that."

AB2286 requires the California Resources Agency to update and strengthen the state's wetlands management plan. The bill directs the agency to identify opportunities for the enhancement, restoration, and conservation of California's remaining wetlands.

More than 90% of the original wetlands found in California have been lost to development. Wetlands provide critical habitat for a variety of endangered species. They also serve a fundamental role in mitigating urban runoff by filtering out pollution before it runs into the ocean and streams and by buffering rising waters due to floods or high tides.

The state established a specific plan in 1979 for the protection, acquisition, restoration, preservation, and management of wetlands to be implemented through the year 2000. This bill calls for updating of the plan that now exists including the identification of areas needing for wetland conservation through the year 2020.