by Dr. Gerald H. Meral
PCL Foundation, Executive Director

With Assistance from the Mountain Lion Foundation
October 90

Published with financial assistance from the Gerbode Foundation and

Santa Clara Valley Area Coordinator
1990 California Wildlife Protection Committee
Valencia, California
I.A.N. Concert Promotions - USA
Newhall, California


On June 5, 1990 the voters of California approved Proposition 117, the California Wildlife Protection Act. The Act accomplished two things. It prohibited the sport hunting of the California Mountain Lion, and it required that California spend no less than $30 million a year on wildlife habitat protection and related purposes.

The purpose of this publication is to help Californians understand the funding procedures of Proposition 117, and to work with State Government to be sure that these funds are utilized to protect wildlife habitat of statewide importance. Our thanks to the Mountain Lion Preservation Foundation, California Park and Recreation Society and the Department of Fish and Game for helpful comments in preparing this publication. We have tried to make this publication as accurate as possible, but any inadequacies are our responsibility, and not the fault of any of those providing comments.

How Proposition 117 Works

Unlike traditional bond acts, Proposition 117 does not provide a fixed amount of money for habitat protection on a one time basis. Instead, it requires that the State of California spend no less than $30 million a year on wildlife habitat and related purposes for the next thirty years, or through the year 2020. This $30 million is spent from a new state account called the Habitat Conservation Fund.

Sources of Funding for Proposition 117

In implementing Proposition 117, the Legislature can use a wide variety of funding sources (as specified in the measure) to achieve the $30 million a year goal. In any year the funds may come from a new bond act, the Environmental License Plate Fund, the Tobacco Tax Fund or a variety of other sources listed below.

Only one source of funds is fixed from year to year. Each year ten percent of the Unallocated Account of the Tobacco Tax Fund must be used for the wildlife protection programs contained in Proposition 117. In most years this will amount to around $15 million. The remainder of the $30 million a year will come from one or more the following sources:

Wildlife Restoration Fund

This is money received by the Wildlife Conservation Board for fishing access and habitat protection work. It comes from horse racing revenues. At the moment it amounts to about $750,000 a year.

Environmental License Plate Fund

These are the revenues from the sale and renewal of the "vanity" license plates (the personalized ones that spell out a message). The funds presently go to a wide variety of environmental programs, including the support of part of the Department of Fish and Game. Revenues are presently about $28 million a year.

Tobacco Tax Public Resources Account

This is revenue received from the new $.25 a package tobacco tax passed by the voters in 1988 (Proposition 99). Five percent of the money received from the tax each year goes to the Resources Account. At present this amounts to about $30 million a year. Proposition 99 required that half the money be split between state and local parks, and half be spent on wildlife. This $15 million for wildlife is divided as follows: $5 million each for wildlife, wetlands, and fisheries. Proposition 117 did not revise these priorities.

The Resources Account is different from the Unallocated Account described above. Proposition 99 also created the Unallocated Account. Proposition 117 provides that 10% of the Unallocated Account ($15 million a year) will go for wildlife habitat.

Endangered Species Income Tax Checkoff

These are funds donated by taxpayers to the Department of Fish and Game to preserve endangered species. If your project specifically involves these species, you may be able to convince Fish and Game to use these funds to implement the project. Tax checkoff funds amount to about $1 million a year.

New Wildlife Bond Acts

Funds from future bond acts will count toward the $30 million requirement of Proposition 117. The Legislature has placed Proposition 149 on the November 1990 ballot. It includes funding for parks and wildlife habitat which will count toward the $30 million requirement of Proposition 117 if it passes. Similarly, the old growth forest acquisition money included in Propositions 130 (Forests Forever) and 128 (Big Green) could also count toward the requirements of Proposition 117.

Other new funds created by the Legislature or the people

While no such funds are currently under consideration, they will undoubtedly be proposed in the future.


The first thing to understand about Proposition 117 funds is that only public agencies (state or local) can apply for funds. If you want to fund a particular project from Proposition 117, you must convince a state or local agency to apply for the funds.

Proposition 117 requires that half the $30 million each year be spent in northern California, and half in southern California. In each year no less than three million dollars must be spent statewide on acquiring and restoring stream and riparian habitat, and three million dollars on acquiring and restoring wetlands. (In each of the above, the funding is based on a two year running average. Presumably the Wildlife Conservation Board will review expenditures and adjust the spending program for the coming year to meet the requirements of the act.)

Special preference is given to land protection projects which allow animal populations to move from one area to another. These are called wildlife corridors.

One third of the money ($10 million) must be spent to protect deer and mountain lion populations, with special emphasis on native oak forests. The remaining $20 million a year must be spent on other types of wildlife habitat such as threatened and endangered species, unique habitat types, wetlands, river and stream habitat, and so on.

Funding is also authorized to provide public access and build trails in wildlife habitat owned by local agencies.

In addition to these geographical and program restrictions, the money is allocated by agency. Here is where the first steps toward access of the Proposition 117 money take place. Proposition 117 requires that the $30 million goal be achieved in the following ways:


Agency Annual allocation
Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy $10.0 million
Local Park Districts * 2.0 million
State Parks 1.0 million
State and Local Parks in Big Sur Area 1.5 million
Coastal Conservancy 4.0 million
Tahoe Conservancy 5.0 million
Wildlife Conservation Board 11.0 million

* These funds distributed as matching grants by the State Department of Parks and Recreation. Eligible agencies include local park, recreation and open space agencies.


Agency Annual allocation
Local Park Districts * 2.0 million
State Parks 1.0 million
State and Local Parks in Big Sur Area 1.5 million
Coastal Conservancy 4.0 million
Tahoe Conservancy 0.5 million
Wildlife Conservation Board 21.0 million

* These funds distributed as matching grants by the State Department of Parks and Recreation. Eligible agencies include local park, recreation and open space agencies.

Funds for the Wildlife Conservation Board are for purposes and activities of the Department of Fish and Game.


Only public agencies can receive funds through Proposition 117. Nonprofit groups or individuals seeking funding to acquire wildlife habitat must convince a state or local agency to apply for Proposition 117 funding. These groups cannot apply themselves.



The following are the steps you must go through to get money from Proposition 117 for your wildlife protection project. Before you contact a state or local agency, see if you have completed these steps, or at least enough of them to make a rational, well-thought out proposal.

1. Describe your project: What are you trying to accomplish? Your project must involve one of the goals listed in Section 2786 of Proposition 117 (see text at the end of this publication). In general these categories are the following:

a) Acquiring wildlife or native plant habitat. Describe the wildlife or native plant values you are seeking to protect. How much land do you wish to see acquired? Is there a willing seller? (This is important since most agencies are reluctant to condemn private property.) Are there endangered or threatened species present? Are there deer, mountain lions or oak trees present? Are you seeking to preserve wetlands, riparian areas or wildlife corridors: all these are given special consideration in Proposition 117. Significant Natural Area acquisition is given special priority: these are unusual natural areas with outstanding diversity of native California life forms. Local Department of Fish and Game biologists or University Biology Departments may be able to provide helpful information on your project area.

b) Restoring and enhancing streams, rivers or wetlands; acquiring this type of habitat.

c) Providing public access to parks with wildlife values. Funds for this type of project can be provided through the local parks program. Remember that matching funds for this program must be provided by the local agency. Perhaps your organization can help with the matching funds. They can be contributed by private groups.

Ineligible projects: If your project does not fall into these categories, it is probably not eligible to be funded through Proposition 117. Some types of projects which would not be eligible include: development of recreational facilities, preservation of open space with no particular wildlife values, preservation of agricultural land, purchase of small urban parks designed primarily for recreation, etc.

2. Prepare your funding plan: How much money is needed to complete your project? How many years can you take to make the purchase? If you can spread out the purchase over several years, it might be easier to obtain the funds than if you seek the whole amount in one year.

What funding sources are available? Can you obtain other private, local, state or federal funds? A project that has a wide variety of funding sources available will be more attractive to state and local agencies. Don't forget private sources like the Nature Conservancy or local land trusts.

3. Dealing with a state agency or agencies: Proposition 117 provides funds to a wide variety of agencies. First consider geography.



If your project is within the jurisdiction of the Coastal Conservancy, Tahoe Conservancy, or Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, go to them first. This is because they have a specific amount of money they must receive each year within their geographic area. The Wildlife Conservation Board and Department of Parks and Recreation receive money statewide, and have a much larger geographic area to cover, making it more difficult to chose among competing projects.

The Coastal Conservancy only covers the coast but can follow watercourses inland, and also has jurisdiction in San Francisco Bay and the Delta. The Tahoe Conservancy is inside the Lake Tahoe Watershed. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy covers the Santa Monica, Santa Susana and related mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. They cover the mountains from the coast through the San Fernando Valley to around Glendale and Pasadena.

These agencies will know what funds are available to them, and can help you develop a proposal that they might be able to assist in funding. They obtain funding from a wide variety of sources, many of which fall under Proposition 117. Let them help you determine which of these sources are appropriate for your project.



If your project is in or near a State Park or recreation area, contact the Superintendent of that Park. State Parks will receive at least $1 million a year for habitat acquisition and restoration in and near state parks.

If your project is in the Santa Lucia Mountains (Big Sur), contact either the State Department of Parks and Recreation in Monterey or the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District. Proposition 117 requires that $1.5 million per year must be spent in this area.

One of the most flexible sources of funding created by Proposition 117 is the requirement that at least $2 million a year must be granted to local park, recreation and open space agencies on a matching grant basis by the Department of Parks and Recreation. If your local agency can be interested in your project, and you or they can find a way to provide matching funds, the agency can apply to the Department of Parks and Recreation for a grant to undertake your project.

The Department is preparing a handbook for local agencies and citizens to use in understanding Proposition 117. You can order a copy at the address listed at the back of this publication.



The Wildlife Conservation Board, which receives most of the funds from Proposition 117, accepts nominations for wildlife protection projects from the Department of Fish and Game. While nothing precludes citizen groups from approaching the Wildlife Conservation Board directly, you would need to have a public agency willing to make the application. If it is not one of the agencies listed above, it will almost certainly have to be the Department of Fish and Game, so you might as well start with them.

The Department of Fish and Game is divided into five regions. Each region has biologists on staff who can work with you to review your proposed project and help determine if it fits in the requirements of Proposition 117. The person you approach will vary depending on the type of project and the way projects are handled within each region, so if you are not already in contact with someone in the Department, just contact the Regional Headquarters (see list at the end of this publication).

The biologist to whom you are assigned may not be familiar with the ins and outs of the funding required by Proposition 117. This is not critical. The key is that the Department place your project on the list of proposed projects for which funding is needed. There are a wide variety of funds available to the Department both within and outside the scope of Proposition 117. Your concern is to accomplish your project.

You should investigate all possible funding sources, including those outside the scope of Proposition 117, since in the end you want to be sure that every funding source is examined as a possibility either by the Department or the Legislature.


First, evaluate your project more carefully. Does it really fit in the guidelines of Proposition 117 as described above? If not, seek another funding source from private, local, state or federal sources. But if you feel you have a really good wildlife or fisheries protection project, don't take no for an answer. Here are several ways to go higher in the system.

1. Appeal to the Department of Fish and Game in Sacramento. The Department has a number of branches which can help with natural areas, fisheries, game species and waterfowl. A number of these branches are listed in the back of this publication, although their organization will change over time.

Don't hesitate to go to the Department Director if you fail to gain satisfaction from the Department staff. That is what she or he is there for.

You should understand that the Department headquarters staff and the Director will tend to back up the recommended decisions of the field staff. This is appropriate, but sometimes regional staff is subject to pressure from local landowners and agencies which can be resisted by those in Sacramento.

The same is true for Parks and Recreation, if you are trying to get money for a State or local Parks project and are rejected by regional Parks and Recreation staff. Consider an appeal to the acquisitions division, and even the Director.

At both Parks and Fish and Game, regional and headquarters staff will not be pleased by an appeal of their decision to the Director or above. Do your best to convince the person making the basic decision about recommending your project for funding before appealing to a higher level. It is often very hard to reverse these field decisions even at the highest levels of government.

2. The Wildlife Conservation Board has a small staff, but under certain circumstances you might be able to appeal to them. At least they might be willing to ask the Department of Fish and Game to take another look at your project.

3. The Resources Secretary is above the Departments of Parks and Fish and Game and the Conservancies, and sometimes can help get through their bureaucracies. The Secretary also largely controls the Environmental License Plate Fund.

4. Your local Legislator can help, but it is better to go through all the steps in the administrative process described above first. It will make it a lot easier for your legislator to help you if he or she is dealing with an agency that is at least familiar with your project.

If your project is not in your own legislative district, consider going to the legislator who represents the project area. You will have to deal with him or her eventually, if you enter the legislative process.

If neither your legislator or the legislator who represents the local project area is interested, sometimes another member of the Legislature from another part of the state may become interested if they are environmentally oriented. But they will have to deal with the legislator who represents the project area sooner or later. Administrative agencies will be reluctant to spend the money on a project within the district of a Legislator who objects to the project.

Remember that each area is represented by a Member of the Assembly and a member of the Senate. Either can help.

5. In gaining support for your project, consider contacting the Trust for Public Land and the Nature Conservancy.

The Trust for Public Land is interested in gaining new public land with resource values. They usually become involved in the actual land purchase, working with willing sellers to maximize the seller's tax and other benefits. They are familiar with state and federal funding mechanisms, and can usually offer good advice.

The Nature Conservancy is largely interested in wildlife habitat and fisheries. They particularly focus on rare, endangered and threatened species. They often purchase habitat themselves, and also help persuade government to make purchases.


Maybe you don't have a particular project you want to see acquired or restored, but you are curious about how the money from Proposition 117 is actually being spent. Each year the Wildlife Conservation Board will report on the actual expenditure of the funds. You can call or write them to find out how each of the agencies described above spent the money they received. These annual reports should be available around September of each year. The first one should be available some time around September of 1991. PCL Foundation and the Mountain Lion Preservation Foundation will also be keeping track of the expenditures.


Proposition 117 also prohibited trophy hunting of the California Mountain Lion, and made the lion a specially protected mammal. It is now illegal to take, injure, possess, transport, import of sell any lion or any part or product of a lion. Trophies taken in other states cannot be imported, nor can lions be possessed by game breeders. Lions or lion parts possessed before June 1990 can still legally be possessed. Live lions may be kept under a special permit issued by the Department of Fish and Game. Violators face up to $10,000 in fines and one year in jail for violating these provisions.


Mountain lions that kill livestock or threaten humans can still be killed. If the Department of Fish and Game finds that livestock has been killed, they must issue a permit to kill the lion within 48 hours of receiving a request for such a permit by the rancher. The permit is valid for ten days. The hunt must begin no more than a mile from the killed livestock and must end within a ten mile circle from the livestock.

Written permits are required unless a verbal permit would materially aide in the hunt. Lions killed under a depredation permit must be reported to DFG within 24 hours by phone, or if a phone is not practical, within 5 days in writing. The Department must necropsy all carcasses, which must be delivered to the Department.

Lions caught in the act of killing livestock may be killed on the spot, and the kill must be reported to DFG within 72 hours.

No leghold or metal jawed traps or poison or snares may be used to kill depredating lions. Mountain lions may be killed in self-defense or if the lion threatens public safety. Lions may no longer be pursued by dogs for training purposes. Lions shot in other states may not be brought into California.

The author of this publication wrote much of the fiscal language in Proposition 117, and served as campaign manager. Questions about Proposition 117 funding should be directed to the PCL Foundation or the Mountain Lion Foundation (PO Box 1896, Sacramento, CA 95812. 916-442-2666).



California Park and Recreation Society : 3031 F St, #202, Sacramento, CA 95816. 916-446-2777.

Coastal Conservancy: 1330 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612-2530. 415-464-1015.

Department of Fish and Game: 1416 9th St, Sacramento, CA 958l4. Information: 916-445-0411. Director's Office: 916-445-3535. Inland Fisheries Branch: 916-445-8231. Environmental Services: 916-445-1383. Natural Heritage: 916-322-2493.


1. (North of Red Bluff): 601 Locust St, Redding, CA 96001. 916-225-2300.

2. Sacramento Valley to Nevada, north of Stockton. 1701 Nimbus Rd, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670. 916-355-0922.

3. Coast Range and Bay Area, Mendocino to San Luis Obispo. 7329 Silverado Trail, Napa, Ca 94558. 707-944-5500.

4. San Joaquin Valley and Sierra. 1234 E. Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 94558. 209-222-3761.

5. Southern California, Inyo and Mono Counties. 245 W. Broadway, Ste 350. Long Beach, CA. 90802. 213-590-5132.

Department of Parks and Recreation: 1416 9th St, Sacramento, CA 95814. Acquisitions: 916-445-9210. Planning and Local Assistance: 916-445-7090. Director's Office: 916-445-2358.

Mountain Lion Foundation: PO Box 1896, Sacramento, CA 95812. 916-442-2666.

Nature Conservancy: 785 Market St, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA. 415-777-0541.

Planning and Conservation League: 1107 9th St, Ste 360, Sacramento, Ca. 958l4. 916-444-8726.

Resources Agency: 1416 9th St, Sacramento, CA 95814. 916-445-5656.

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy: 3700 Solstice Canyon Rd, Malibu, CA 90265. 213-456-7807.

Tahoe Conservancy: PO 7758 South Lake Tahoe, CA 95731. 916-542-2940.

Trust for Public Land: 116 New Montgomery, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105. 415-495-4014.

Wildlife Conservation Board: 1416 9th St, Sacramento, CA 958l4. 916-445-8448.

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