Today's Law As Amended

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AB-1630 Transportation: wildlife movement and barriers to passage.(2017-2018)



SECTION 1.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Wildlife corridors, which often overlap with riparian corridors or other topographically distinct features, allow species to move between high-value habitats safely, diverting wildlife from private lands or highways where they have the potential to face negative human-wildlife interactions or cause traffic collisions.
(b) As regional weather patterns and habitat continue to shift due to climate change, wildlife populations will likely require new foraging, breeding, and sheltering locations. Connectivity between existing core habitat areas and those required to support future wildlife populations will be crucial to allow safe migration of species between protected areas as climate patterns shift.
(c) Wildlife corridors and connected habitat will help native species like mountain lions, bobcats, porcupines, badgers, coyotes, and deer that suffer from increasingly fragmented habitats maintain healthy populations and genetic diversity.
(d) By identifying where wildlife corridors overlap with transportation infrastructure, the state can identify high-risk areas for wildlife-vehicle collisions and create or modify road design to improve habitat connectivity, thus protecting both drivers and wildlife from harm or injury.
(e) It is the policy of the state to encourage, wherever feasible and practicable, voluntary steps to protect the functioning of wildlife corridors through various conservation and mitigation efforts and to promote a regional conservation investment strategy that encourages investments in conservation through advance mitigation efforts.
(f) California has made substantial investments in the conservation of public lands, including the issuance of nearly $11.7 billion in general obligation bonds since 1988. Wildlife corridors maximize the return on these prior investments by allowing parklands to function as a network of habitat areas.

SEC. 2.

 Chapter 13 (commencing with Section 1950) is added to Division 2 of the Fish and Game Code, to read:

CHAPTER  13. Barriers to Wildlife Passage
1950.
 For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:
(a) “Wildlife corridors” means a habitat linkage that joins two or more areas of wildlife habitat, allowing for fish passage or the movement of wildlife from one area to another.
(b) “Wildlife passage features” means culverts, undercrossings, overcrossings, bridges, directional fencing, scuppers, barrier breaks, roadside animal detection systems, fish ladders, wildlife monitoring devices, or other features that improve the ability for wildlife to move safely across transportation infrastructure.
1951.
 (a) The Director of Transportation, in coordination with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, shall prepare a report describing the status of the Department of Transportation’s progress in locating, assessing, and remediating existing barriers to wildlife connectivity every three years. This report shall be submitted to the Legislature by October 31 every three years through the year 2030. In preparing the report, the Department of Transportation shall consider best available scientific data, including the California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project, regional connectivity assessments, vehicle and wildlife collision data, local data on wildlife and habitat, and academic data provided to the Department of Transportation on wildlife movement.
(b) A report to be submitted pursuant to subdivision (a) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
1952.
 The Department of Fish and Wildlife or the Department of Transportation may pursue development of a programmatic environmental review process with appropriate state and federal regulatory agencies for wildlife connectivity-related transportation infrastructure.
1953.
 (a) On or before January 1, 2019, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, in coordination with the Department of Transportation and the Transportation Agency, shall do both of the following:
(1) Update the California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project with new, best available data on wildlife movements.
(2) Create a formal avenue for scientific data on wildlife movements gathered by universities, nonprofit corporations, public agencies, and independent biologists to be submitted to these departments and the agency. The Department of Fish and Wildlife may consider this data in its update to the California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project and shall make this data available to the public on its Internet Web site.
(b) On or before January 1, 2020, the Department of Transportation shall update the Highway Design Manual to address wildlife passage features to mitigate barriers to wildlife passage and improve wildlife connectivity, using the best available science, including the California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project, to determine placement and design of wildlife passage features, in an effort to promote safe wildlife movement across transportation infrastructure to reduce vehicle collisions that injure people, disrupt freight delivery, and increase the cost of insurance, and to improve wildlife connectivity.