Lands Pass Update - Good News!
By Shirley Dettloff

that the program for Bolsa Chica and Upper Newport Bay was to be indefinitely suspended. When we reported on this in our last Tern Tide we had been told that starting on February 1, 2018 a fee would be required to visit the Bolsa Chica and many other natural resources sites in California. This had come about through legislation passed by the State Legislature in 1988 as a way to broaden the funding base beyond hunters and anglers to pay for conservation and habitat improvements on some of the state’s most popular and frequently visited wildlife areas and ecological reserves. Nothing had been done until Fish and Wildlife were told to implement the legislation.

When we heard about this, the Amigos de Bolsa Chica were adamantly opposed. Letters were sent to the State with our opposition and reasons why stated. We felt that this would be extremely difficult to implement as there were many ways visitors could enter the wetlands. We felt that any funds collected would all be used for enforcement, so that the resource would never see the money meant to be used to enhance a site. The department, however, continued to plan to execute the Lands Pass.

After making a call to the State Lands Commission, we learned that they had never been consulted during the planning process for the Land Pass. When the Commission learned of the intention to implement the Land Pass on sovereign lands, their Executive Officer immediately contacted the CA Fish and Wildlife Director and requested the postponement of the Land Pass on Commission lands. As a result, the CDFW has indefinitely suspended the Land Pass Program on state sovereign land locations under the jurisdiction of the Commission. This included Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. The Commission has concerns about the potential conflict of implementation of the program on sovereign public trust lands. These lands are held in trust for the benefit of the public, and maximizing free and open public access is a central value of the public trust. Currently on the list are 21 sites in California where the program is indefinitely suspended, plus one more site of temporary postponement. There will continue to be 20 sites where the Lands Pass will continue in force. Visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/Lands-Pass to see the listing of sites requiring fees.

We believe because of the status as state sovereign land, Bolsa Chica will remain exempt. We will continue to monitor the status of the BCER, and if changes occur we will notify our members and the Amigos de Bolsa Chica board of directors will take appropriate action as needed. We can now continue to access the trails at Bolsa Chica and enjoy the wetlands that we spent 45 years saving at no cost.