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

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Date Published: 04/18/2017 04:00 AM
AB1630:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 17, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 28, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 16, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1630


Introduced by Assembly Member Bloom

February 17, 2017


An act to add Chapter 13 (commencing with Section 1950) to Division 2 of the Fish and Game Code, and to amend Section 65072.1 of the Government Code, relating to transportation planning.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1630, as amended, Bloom. California Transportation Plan: Transportation: wildlife movement and barriers to passage.

(1)Existing

Existing law requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife to administer the Significant Natural Areas Program, and requires the department, among other things, to develop and maintain a spatial data system that identifies those areas in the state that are most essential for maintaining habitat connectivity, including wildlife corridors and habitat linkages. Existing law requires the department, contingent upon the provision of certain funding, to investigate, study, and identify those areas in the state that are most essential as wildlife corridors and habitat linkages and prioritize vegetative data development in those areas. Existing law requires the department to seek input from representatives of other state agencies, local government, federal agencies, nongovernmental conservation organizations, landowners, agriculture, recreation, scientific entities, and industry in determining essential wildlife corridors and habitat linkages. Existing law also declares that it is the policy of the state to encourage, wherever feasible and practicable, voluntary steps to protect the functioning of wildlife corridors through various means.
This bill would authorize the Department of Fish and Wildlife or the Department of Transportation to pursue development of a programmatic environmental review process with appropriate state and federal regulatory agencies for remediating barriers to wildlife connectivity that will streamline the permitting process for wildlife crossing projects. wildlife connectivity-related transportation infrastructure. The bill would require for any project using state or federal transportation funds programmed after January 1, 2019, the Department of Transportation to ensure that, if the project affects a wildlife corridor identified in the California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project, or is otherwise identified by the Department of Fish and Wildlife or Department of Transportation as a wildlife corridor, an assessment of existing or proposed barriers to wildlife passage and potential improvements in wildlife connectivity will be completed as part of the project’s design. require, on or before January 1, 2019, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, in coordination with the Department of Transportation and the Transportation Agency, to update the California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project and 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, as specified.

The bill would require the Department of Transportation to submit the assessment to the Department of Fish and Wildlife and make it available to the public. The bill would require, if any structural barrier to wildlife passage exists or is proposed, the Department of Transportation to include wildlife passage features to mitigate barriers to wildlife passage and improve wildlife connectivity, using best available science to determine placement and design of wildlife passage features. The bill would require when barriers to wildlife passage are being addressed that the plans and projects be developed in consultation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The bill would require, on or before January 1, 2019, the standardization of the collection of data on vehicle collisions with wildlife, the update of the California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project, and the creation of a formal avenue for scientific data on wildlife movements, as specified. The bill would also require the Director of Transportation Transportation, in coordination with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, to prepare a report describing the status of the Department of Transportation’s progress in locating, assessing, and remediating existing barriers to wildlife connectivity every 3 years. The bill would require that the report be submitted to the Legislature by October 31 every 3 years through the year 2030.

(2)Existing law requires various transportation planning activities by state and regional agencies. Existing law provides for the Department of Transportation to prepare the California Transportation Plan for submission to the Governor and the Legislature and to complete the first update by December 31, 2015, and to update the plan every 5 years thereafter, as a long-range planning document that incorporates various elements and is consistent with specified expressions of legislative intent. The plan is required to consider various subject areas for the movement of people and freight, including environmental protection.

This bill would add safe wildlife movement across transportation infrastructure to reduce vehicle collisions that injure people, disrupt freight delivery, and increase the cost of insurance to the subject areas that the plan is required to consider for the movement of people and freight.

The bill would require, on or before January 1, 2020, the Department of Transportation to update the Highway Design Manual to address wildlife passage features to mitigate barriers to wildlife passage and to improve wildlife connectivity, using the best available science, including the California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project, as specified.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


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 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 remediating barriers to wildlife connectivity that will streamline the permitting process for wildlife crossing projects based on additional funding. The Department of Fish and Wildlife shall include a description of its progress on this review process in the report specified in Section 1951. wildlife connectivity-related transportation infrastructure.

1953.

For any project, including repair and retrofitting existing transportation infrastructure, using state or federal transportation funds programmed after January 1, 2019, the Department of Transportation shall ensure that, if the project affects a wildlife corridor identified in the California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project, or is otherwise identified by the Department of Fish and Wildlife or Department of Transportation as a wildlife corridor, an assessment of existing or proposed barriers to wildlife passage and potential improvements in wildlife connectivity will be completed as part of the project’s design. The Department of Transportation shall submit the assessment to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which shall incorporate the information into the standardized fish and wildlife data and information system developed pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 1954 and make it available to the public. If any structural barrier to passage exists or is proposed, the Department of Transportation shall include wildlife passage features to mitigate barriers to wildlife passage and improve wildlife connectivity, using the best available science to determine placement and design of wildlife passage features. When barriers to wildlife passage are being addressed, the plans and projects shall be developed in consultation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

1954.

(a)On or before January 1, 2019, the Department of Transportation and the Department of the California Highway Patrol, in coordination with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, shall standardize the collection of data on vehicle collisions with wildlife. The standardized fish and wildlife data and information system shall include a standardized classification of type of wildlife involved in the collision, as well as the specific mile marker and highway on which the wildlife was struck, and shall be reported to the Department of Transportation and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

(b)On or before January 1, 2019, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, in coordination with the Department of Transportation and the Transportation Agency, shall update the California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project with new, best available data on wildlife movements.

(c)On or before January 1, 2019, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, in coordination with the Department of Transportation and the Transportation Agency, shall 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 electronically on its Internet Web site.

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.

SEC. 3.Section 65072.1 of the Government Code is amended to read:
65072.1.

The California Transportation Plan shall consider all of the following subject areas in connection with the movement of people and freight:

(a)Mobility and accessibility.

(b)Integration and connectivity.

(c)Efficient system management and operation.

(d)Existing system preservation.

(e)Safety and security.

(f)Economic development, including productivity and efficiency.

(g)Environmental protection and quality of life.

(h)Safe wildlife movement across transportation infrastructure to reduce vehicle collisions that injure people, disrupt freight delivery, and increase the cost of insurance.