AB 2545, another bad water bill that needs to be stopped

OPPOSE AB 2545           Department of Fish and Wildlife: lake or streambed alteration agreements: definitions.

Would redefine “river” and “stream” to exclude smaller streams (ie Class III streams) from DFW jurisdiction for LSA review and permitting. A recipe for increased impacts in small headwaters streams.

“River” and “stream” mean a body of water that flows at least periodically or intermittently through a bed or channel having banks and supports fish or other aquatic life. This includes watercourses having a surface or subsurface flow that supports or have supported riparian vegetation.

This Bill removes California Department of Fish and Wildlife  authority  to protect aquatic resources in Class III streams (streams with a bed and bank – but are ephemeral)
Thus, Ag operations could fill or dam these streams at will.

This is exactly the same language in a bill that was killed last year – AB 947.

The stream definition proposed by AB 2545 would limit CDFW’s protective oversight to only those streams that support aquatic life.  By redefining streams as only those waterbodies that support aquatic life, AB 2545 functionally eliminates protection of streams that lack fully aquatic life but that support semi-aquatic amphibians and reptiles, non-aquatic terrestrial species like birds or the desert tortoise, and many non-riparian native plant communities that depend on intermittent and ephemeral streams and stream processes for their habitat and continued survival. Ephemeral and intermittent streams – regardless of whether they support fully aquatic life – are critical parts of the stream network and contribute to the ecological health and sustainability of the entire watershed.  These streams are often source areas or major tributaries to perennial streams and contribute to the overall hydrological function and health of a watershed. They also provide a wide array of ecological functions including forage, cover, nesting, and movement corridors for terrestrial wildlife.

  By eliminating protections for streams lacking aquatic life but critical to the overall watershed function and water quality of the entire stream network, AB 2545 would functionally eliminate CDFW’s mandate to protect all streams and the fish and wildlife that depend on these ecosystems.  Please call or paste and MAIL THE SAMPLE LETTER BELOW:

To: California State Assembly

Committee on Natural Resources,

(916) 319-2092.

1020 N Street, Room 164

Sacramento CA 95814 

Subject:  Oppose AB 2545
 


 Dear Members of the State Assembly Committee on Natural Resources:

 We urge you to oppose AB 2545 because this bill seeks to change California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) lake or streambed alteration (LSA) agreements by redefining the DFW permitting authority to exclude smaller Class III streams (ephemeral watercourses that do not support fully-aquatic organisms) from its jurisdiction for LSA review and permitting. 

Class III watercourses comprise the greatest areal percentage of every watershed, and therefore the Class III streams’ chemical and biological interactions govern the functioning and health of its whole watershed. 


 We are especially concerned about preserving healthy ecosystems, and so supports watershed restoration and protection as part of the careful oversight of all public trust resources—especially small watercourses critical to maintaining streamflow, groundwater recharge, wetlands, and other sensitive ecosystems.

We oppose AB 2545 because it seeks to remove DFW authority for protecting aquatic resources in Class III streams with a bed and bank, but which are ephemeral. The proposed AB 2545 stream definition would limit CDFW’s protective oversight to only those streams supporting “fully-aquatic” life—excluding streams that support semi-aquatic amphibians and reptiles, non-aquatic terrestrial species like birds, reptiles and amphibians, and many non-riparian native plant communities that depend on intermittent and ephemeral streams and stream processes for their habitat and continued survival.

Whether or not Class III ephemeral and intermittent streams support fully-aquatic life, they are critical elements of every stream network and contribute to the ecological health and sustainability of the entire watershed. Class III streams are the source areas of, and tributaries to, perennial streams. They support the overall hydrological functions and health of a watershed, and provide a wide array of ecological functions, including forage, cover, nesting, and movement corridors for terrestrial wildlife, plus percolation zones for groundwater. 

By eliminating protections for streams critical to the overall watershed function and water quality of the entire stream network, AB 2545 would actually would eliminate CDFW’s mandate to protect all streams and the fish and wildlife that depend on these ecosystems. 

Please protect our watersheds by eliminating AB 2545.

 

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