Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Game Wardens to MLPA: Stop!

July 9, 2009

Ms. Cindy Gustafson, President
California Fish and Game Commission
1416 Ninth Street
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

Dear Ms. Gustafson:
Thanks to you and the Commission for recognizing the ongoing plight of Wardens in California. We greatly appreciate the tremendous support from those who understand and value California's wildlife and its susceptibility. Poaching and environmental law violations are an everyday occurrence as we continue to provide the ''thin green line" of protection in spite of the ongoing statewide budget crisis and a requirement for taking three furlough days each month. With only a little over 200 field game wardens, the furloughs create a situation where we loose the time equivalent to 28 wardens. We are well aware that a number of state law enforcement agencies have not been furloughed. We have met with cabinet level personnel, but no one can explain how some are exempt and some are not. It is clear so far, that the protection of wildlife resources and ensuring public safety do not appear important enough to remove furloughs from wardens.

We understand the need for the Commission to move forward with mandates but must request that you delay or suspend any and all mandates that place additional responsibilities on wardens until such time that furlough and staffing issues are addressed. A prime example of this is the ongoing work by the Commission related to the Marine Life Protection Act and the designation of protected areas along our coastline. Insofar as legally possible, please delay any further designations of such areas. With the furloughs in place, we now have field level staffing that provides us about 175 field level wardens. We simply cannot effectively enforce additional mandates without some relief from furlough issues that may continue through June, 2010.

We appreciate and support the difficult and conscientious work the Commission must consider. We look forward to your help.

Todd Tognazzini, President
P.O. Box 2785
Paso Robles, CA 93447-2785