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California Proposition 117, Habitat Conservation Fund (1990)

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California Proposition 117 was on the June 5, 1990 ballot in California as an initiated state statute, where it was approved.

Proposition 117 created a Habitat Conservation Fund (HCF) and guaranteed it funding of $30 million a year for 30 years (through 2020). The funding was to be used to "acquire, enhance, or restore" specified types of lands for wildlife or open space.

In 1996, a vote was held on Proposition 197 to repeal Proposition 117's designation of mountain lions as a specially protected species. With respect to mountain lions, Proposition 117 prohibited the taking of mountain lions "unless for protection of life, livestock or other property." Proposition 197 was unsuccessful.

Election results

Proposition 117
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 2,572,470 52.42%
No2,334,89947.58%

Daniel Richards incident

In 2012, Daniel W. Richards, president of the California Fish and Game Commission, was photographed holding a dead mountain lion he shot in northern Idaho. The photograph was published online on the website of Western Outdoor News. This led to calls for his resignation. Wayne Pacelle, a leader of the Humane Society of the United States, was one of those calling for the resignation. Pacelle said that although killing mountain lions in Idaho is not illegal, it is illegal in California, due to Proposition 117. Pacelle said, "It's not illegal. But he's thumbed his nose at the people of California. He's supposed to be representing the interests of all California citizens. It seems like such a tone-deaf action."[1]

State assemblyman Jared Huffman said that he might introduce a resolution in the California State Legislature to remove Richards from the state's Fish and Game Commission. Hufffman said, "He's thumbing his nose at California law. He's mocking it. Frankly, I think he should face the music and step down. He's done something that's a disgrace to his position and to responsible hunters in California."[1]

Text of measure

Title

Wildlife Protection. Initiative Statute.

Summary

"Establishes Habitat Conservation Fund. Transfers $30 million to Fund annually from existing environmental funds and General Fund. Monies from Fund appropriated to Wildlife Conservation Board; Coastal, Tahoe, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancies; state and local parks programs. Funds to be used principally for acquisition of deer and mountain lion habitat; rare and endangered species habitat. Remaining funding for wetlands; riparian and aquatic habitat; open space; other environmental purposes. Prohibits taking of mountain lions unless for protection of life, livestock or other property. Permit for taking required, but prohibits use of poison, leg-hold or metal-jawed traps and snares."

Fiscal impact

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

"The $30 million in annual HCF funding would come from the following sources:
  1. 10 percent of the funds in the Proposition 99 "unallocated account."
  2. The remainder from the state's General Fund, less any amounts the Legislature may transfer from other existing environmental funds.
We estimate that for 1990-91 these amounts would be $18 million from the unallocated account and $12 million from the General Fund, unless other transfers are made.
In subsequent years, the share of funds from the General Fund (or other environmental funds) may be higher because there will be less revenues in the unallocated account as the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products decline.
Ongoing costs to manage these properties would not come from the HCF, but would be supported by other state funds. These costs could exceed $1 million annually."

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