California Secretary for Natural Resources

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California Secretary for Natural Resources
General information
Office Type:  Nonpartisan
Office website:  Official Link
2012-2013 FY Budget:  $47,703,000
Term limits:  None
Length of term:   Serves at the pleasure of the governor
Authority:  California Government Code, Title 2, Part 2.5, Chapter 1, Section 12802b
Selection Method:  Appointed by governor
Current Officeholder

John Laird.jpg
Name:  John Laird
Assumed office:  January 5, 2011
Compensation:  $175,000
Other California Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorControllerSuperintendent of Public InstructionAgriculture SecretaryInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources SecretaryIndustrial Relations DirectorPublic Utilities Commission
The California Secretary for Natural Resources is a state executive position in the California state government. The secretary heads the California Natural Resources Agency, a conglomeration of a number of state departments, boards and commissions concerned with protecting and managing the "natural, historical and cultural resources," of the state.[1]

Current officeholder

The current secretary is John Laird. He was first appointed by Governor Jerry Brown on January 5, 2011. As secretaries of the Natural Resources Agency serve at the pleasure of the governor, Laird is not subject to periodic reappointment.

Before becoming secretary, he taught state environmental policy at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He was a member of the California State Assembly from 2002 to 2008; he also served on on the member of the State Integrated Waste Management Board from 2008 to 2009. Laird's career in public service began in Santa Cruz, CA, where he was a budget analyst for the county administrator and spent nine years on the city council from 1981 to 1990. Additionally, he spent four years as mayor from 1983-1984 and 1987-1988.[2]


The office of secretary of the Natural Resources Agency is established by Section 12802 of the California Government Code. Previously, the officer had been known as the "Secretary of the Resources Agency." The authority of the Secretary of the Resources Agency was based on Section 12801 of the Government Code provides that certain state-level bodies, including the Natural Resources Agency, are under the control of secretaries.[3]

California Government Code, Section 12802b

(b) The Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency shall succeed to, and is vested with, all the duties, powers, purposes, responsibilities, and jurisdiction previously vested in the Secretary of the Resources Agency.


There are no unique qualifications required of secretaries of the Natural Resources Agency. However, officeholders must fulfill the general requirements for holding civil office in California; he or she must be a resident of the state, at least 18 years of age, not a convicted felon, and not a member of the Communist Party or any other organization that advocates the overthrow of the U.S. government.[4]


California state government organizational chart

Secretaries are appointed by the governor with the approval of the Senate and hold office at the governor's pleasure.[5]

California Government Code, Section 12801

Each agency is under the supervision of an executive officer known as the secretary. Each secretary shall be appointed by, and hold office at the pleasure of, the Governor. The appointment of each secretary is subject to confirmation by the Senate. The annual salary of each secretary is provided for by Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 11550) of Part 1.

Term limits

There are no term limits associated with the office of secretary.


When a vacancy exists, the governor appoints a new officeholder; if the appointment is made when the legislature is out of session, the appointee serves at the pleasure of the governor until the Senate reconvenes.[6]

California Government Code, Section 1774a

(a) When an office, the appointment to which is vested in the Governor and Senate, either becomes vacant or the term of the incumbent thereof expires, the Governor may appoint a person to the office or reappoint the incumbent after the expiration of the term. Until Senate confirmation of the person appointed or reappointed, that person serves at the pleasure of the Governor. If the term of office of an incumbent subject to this section expires, the Governor shall have 60 days after the expiration date to reappoint the incumbent. If the incumbent is not reappointed within the 60-day period, the office shall be deemed to be vacant as of the first day following the end of the 60-day period.


The secretary is the administrative head of the Natural Resources Agency, a group of 8 departments, 11 commissions, 5 boards, 10 conservancies and 2 councils that are concerned either with natural resource management or conservation. He or she provides strategic vision for the divisions within the agency and helps coordinate between them.



  • California Conservation Corps
  • Department of Boating and Waterways
  • Department of Conservation
  • Department of Fish and Game (to become Department of Fish and Wildlife January 1, 2012 per AB 2404[7])
  • Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
  • Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery
  • Department of Water Resources


  • Colorado River Board of California
  • Central Valley Flood Protection Board
  • Board of Forestry
  • Mining and Geology Board
  • Wildlife Conservation Board


  • California Coastal Commission
  • California Energy Commission
  • California State Lands Commission
  • San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
  • Delta Protection Commission
  • Fish and Game Commission
  • Native American Heritage Commission
  • Parks and Recreation Commission
  • State Historical Resources Commission
  • State Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Registration Commission
  • California Boating and Waterways Commission


  • Baldwin Hills Conservancy
  • California Tahoe Conservancy
  • Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy
  • Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy
  • San Diego River Conservancy
  • San Gabriel & Lower Los Angeles Rivers & Mountains Conservancy
  • San Joaquin River Conservancy
  • Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
  • Sierra Nevada Conservancy
  • State Coastal Conservancy[8]

State budget

The budget for the Secretary for Natural Resources' Office in the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year was $47,703,000.[9]


The secretary's salary, like that of all other non-elected executive department heads, is determined by Section 11550 of California's Government Code and is subject to annual increases.[10]


In 2013, the secretary received a salary of $175,000. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.[11]


In 2010, the commissioner received compensation in the amount of $131,500.[12]

Historical officeholders

Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for chronological lists of historical officeholders. That information for the California Secretary for Natural Resources has not yet been added because the information was unavailable on the relevant state official websites, or we are currently in the process of formatting the list for this office. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.

Recent news

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See also

External links