(Sacramento, California) October 5, 2017 — A bill signed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown seeks to help private wetland managers reduce mosquito populations while also reducing pesticide use and habitat management costs.
Mosquito and vector control districts are responsible for limiting mosquito reproduction in an attempt to thwart mosquito-borne illnesses like the West Nile virus. But sometimes their requirements can be costly and counterproductive to the goals of healthy wetland ecosystems.
AB 718 – sponsored by California Waterfowl and carried by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay – creates a system in which wetland managers can voluntarily make agreements with their vector control districts to use best management practices (BMPs) with the goal to both reduce mosquito reproduction and still maintain healthy wetlands at a lower price tag.
In doing so, the new law offers a management option for certain private wetland owners who are dissatisfied with their mosquito abatement fees and requirements.
Mosquito abatement expenses can be substantial, said Mark Hennelly, vice president of legislative affairs and public policy for California Waterfowl. “They are a significant disincentive for many private landowners to flood their wetlands in late summer and fall for early arriving migratory waterfowl, such as pintail, as well as to keep wetlands flooded into spring for the California breeding population of ducks.”
An estimated 60% of managed wetlands in California are privately owned, and most are operated as duck hunting clubs, which support not only ducks and geese that are hunted, but dozens of other wetland-dependent species.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife already uses BMPs at the Yolo Bypass and Grizzly Island wildlife areas. According to a legislative analysis of the bill, these BMPs “exploit the ecological relationships among mosquitoes, their predators, and the wetland habitats they use for breeding, (and) are also beneficial to the general management of wetlands.”
AB 718 also allows the Central Valley Joint Venture, which helps implement federal waterfowl habitat goals and objectives, to update and refine allowable BMPs so they meet specific goals, including maintaining or enhancing the waterfowl habitat values of wetlands.
“California Waterfowl appreciates Assemblyman Frazier’s willingness to help address this issue and support duck clubs and others who manage their lands for waterfowl conservation purposes,” Hennelly said.
Assemblyman Frazier noted that the bill received bipartisan support and was developed with input from both mosquito and vector control districts and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “AB 718 will protect public health and help ensure the conservation of our state’s wetlands,” he said.
Duck hunters in California are proud of their dominant role in wetland conservation in California, which has lost as much as 95% of its original wetlands. California Waterfowl works to restore and enhance wetlands from the Salton Sea to the Klamath Basin, completing tens of thousands of acres of habitat work every year.
At California Waterfowl:
Mark Hennelly, Vice President for Legislative Affairs and Public Policy
916-648-1406, ext. 105
For Assemblyman Jim Frazier:
Adam Bird, Communications Director