Welcome to Capitol Corner, a new series dedicated to providing updates on CalTrout’s legislative and policy work. CalTrout’s policy team includes Redgie Collins (Legal and Policy Director), Analise Rivero (Policy Associate), and Kam Bezdek (Policy Intern). Between these three, they are responsible for the development and implementation of CalTrout’s natural resource and water policy agenda in the California state legislature. This includes supporting CalTrout’s organizational goals through regulatory and public funding advocacy, agency relationship building, partnership development and other policy-related objectives that add to CalTrout’s success.
By Redgie Collins and Analise Rivero
The California Legislature released the final budget language late on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. CalTrout remains critical of the unnecessary delay in releasing critical budget items like emergency drought funding, wildfire relief, and climate resilience packages. As water curtailment orders go live throughout the state, the legislature is still waiting to officially approve these critical funding packages to combat the effects of climate during this year’s especially dry drought conditions.
Despite these real and unavoidable consequences of a slow legislative process, CalTrout remains optimistic as state government is poised to inject over $8.8 billion in drought preparedness, climate resilience, and fire preparedness funding. This large injection of natural resource funding was made possible by the fact that California oversaw a $50 billion surplus and successful advocacy from strong promoters, including the individuals on CalTrout’s own policy team, in directing a large portion of these funds towards protecting our natural water resources.
Here is a breakdown of funding:
CalTrout advocated for a myriad of funding efforts central to our mission, such as funding to state agencies. Natural resources agencies, like the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Wildlife Conservation Board, then operate grant programs to provide funding to non-profit organizations, such as CalTrout to implement our large-scale conservation and restoration projects across the state.
Here are a couple highlights on funding to agencies:
Also, $40 million was awarded for the Outdoor Equity Grants Program (OEP), operated by California State Parks. OEP will increase the ability of residents in low income urban and rural communities to participate in outdoor experiences at state parks and other public lands. Many barriers exist that disproportionately impact historically marginalized communities from the benefits of experiencing nature. CalTrout is in full support of the OEP initiative. (See our statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.)
CalTrout is committed to ensuring that all of these state funds are put to their best possible use and we will keep our membership informed about the exciting projects this budget will fund over the next three years.