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State game refuge status still on the table

Alicia Knadler
Indian Valley Editor

Whether or not to eliminate the protected status of California game refuges is still on the table.

California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) officials were asked to conduct public outreach and then submit a report to the Legislature by Jan. 1.

But just because it’s four months late, so far, and there is no expected date of completion, doesn’t mean the issue is tabled.

The deadline to comment was Dec. 1, and all the comments received were just made public.

There are more than 1,500 pages of comments, many submitted by individuals, and some by groups and industry leaders.

One such comment was from Sierra Pacific Industries, one of the largest private landowners in the state.

A local reader who saw the article in the Portola Reporter sent an electronic comment just seven minutes before midnight on the Dec. 1 deadline.

Beverly Turner numbers herself among many who oppose eliminating the refuge status, thus opening areas up to hunting under state regulations.

“It seems there has been a lack of notification or dissemination of information to us, the public,” she wrote.

She specifically mentioned her concern about the Tehama area refuge and the Smith Peak Refuge near her home.

She points out to officials the numerous public meetings they have conducted about the proposed protected areas along the coast, yet none about the land-based refuges.

“Those of us who oppose the closing of many of the state game refuges would like our view to be heard and considered,” Turner finished.

Retired warden Bob Orange was also disappointed by the lack of public outreach.

Within a few hours of the release of the comments, he had already read 200 of them.

And he found only one, so far, that did not oppose opening up the refuges.

He was impressed by how many were handwritten, and said several showed good insight.

DFG staff counsel Colin Mills does not know when the report will be submitted to the Legislature.

“The summary shall include ‘any information provided by the public that is relevant to the potential closure’ of state game refuges,” he quoted from the state Fish and Game Code.

For more examples of the comments received by the DFG, see your Feather Publishing hometown weekly newspaper next week.

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