For CalTrout’s Policy Team, advocacy opportunities are always top of mind and this time of year is especially busy. Advocacy is a core pillar of what we do at CalTrout. Our Policy Team builds connections between our work on-the-ground, our commitment to science, and our sense of community within all our regions to further our mission through legislative and regulatory advocacy.
CalTrout’s on-the-ground restoration work is funded, in large part, by government grants. The leads of our funding agencies are headquartered in Sacramento, and their budgets are built by the legislature and through Bond efforts voted on by all Californians.
CalTrout’s Policy Team works on every budget for specific line items that meet our organization’s projected needs for the year. When there’s a bond (like there will be in 2024), we’re writing in line items for multi-benefit flood plain work and dam removal. When we’re successful with the budget, we then lobby for grant guidelines that meet our project needs.
Lobbying and constant communications between our team and decision makers in Sacramento can pay dividends to help CalTrout secure government grants. Our Policy Team’s primary function is to meet with every legislative office and every funding agency. We build fact sheets for every regional office and highlight the projects that affect each district in California. When we meet with staff members and legislators, we discuss our work.
That means when we need support letters, we get them as soon as possible. When there’s a new funding guideline to comment on, we work with our grants team to get our comments in immediately, and we set up individual meetings to discuss our priorities. Soup to nuts, we are advocating for every government natural resource dollar to be tailored to CalTrout’s needs.
There are a few different ways that our Policy Team approaches advocacy in our work to protect the freshwater resources we all rely on.
This is what might come to mind when you first think of advocacy. Analise Rivero, Associate Director of Policy, and Kam Bezdek, Policy Associate, are both registered lobbyists and frequently engage with the State Legislature and State Agencies about CalTrout’s interests and goals. Kam and Analise, along with Redgie Collins, CalTrout’s Legal and Policy Director, meet with every legislative office in California, lobbying for pragmatic and meaningful bills in Sacramento. For the first time in its history, CalTrout is sponsoring three bills, while also advocating for budget priorities and for the 2024 Climate and Water Bond you’ll see on your ballot next year! (Interested in learning about those three bills we are co-sponsoring? Click here.)
Our Policy Team also advocates for specific restoration projects, which means giving legislators the opportunity to join us on site for tours and speak directly with our project directors and managers.
Our Policy Team also attends and speaks at conferences, testifies on behalf of our bills, and gets our voice out there so that you can join in on our efforts! CalTrout Legal & Policy Director Redgie Collins recently attended the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Conference to speak on a panel about “Varying Perspectives on Water-Right Modernization”. Bezdek recently represented the team at the Salmonid Restoration Federation’s 40th Annual Conference.
“The conference was great! I felt like I was able to take a break from advocacy and dive into the planning and management side of restoration and natural resources. I was also able to connect to others over a shared passion for our work, which is always a great reminder that our work is more than just a job to us,” she shared.
This fall, Associate Director of Policy, Analise Rivero, will be speaking at the 2023 Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite.
Our team also gives voice to CalTrout’s interests when they testify to the Legislature on behalf of organization-sponsored bills. As part of testifying, the team answer questions and concerns in front of Committees. Legal & Policy Director Redgie Collins recently testified on behalf of CalTrout co-sponsored bill AB 460.
Policy Associate Kam Bezdek also recently had the opportunity to testify on behalf of CalTrout- sponsored bill AB 1272.
“When I went up to testify for AB 1272 it was my first time testifying! I walked up with Assemblymember Jim Wood, and we all talked a bit about the importance of our bill. That highlighted to me how important it was to give legislators the opportunity to hear from us as the co-sponsors,” Bezdek said.
Big ideas never work if we don’t have many voices involved. Our Policy Team is constantly meeting with our partners and other organizations and individuals with an interest in our priorities to gain support, refine language, and listen to perspectives.
The Policy Team attends partnership events and lobby days to build relationships with other organizations and to increase CalTrout’s presence in the Capitol.
“These days are great because we’re usually paired with other lobbyists we don’t know and some we do know, making it a great networking event. We’re also able to support other organizations through our group lobbying efforts,” Bezdek said.