The California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) is in the midst of major changes. The Commission, which was established in 1870, has been led by a body of five commissioners since 1937. The Commission has a small staff to support its activities, which include listing and delisting threatened and endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act, establishing hunting and fishing regulations, establishing protected lands and waters, and considering appeal hearings for revocation or suspension of licenses and permits.
At its February 2016 meetings, the Commission appointed a new President, Commissioner Erik Sklar, and a new Vice President, Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin. The action followed a number of recent departures from the Commission. In December 2015, the President of the Commission – Jack Bayliss – resigned his post. That same month, the Executive Director, who leads the Commission’s staff, stepped down. Then in January 2016, the Vice President of the Commission – Jim Kellogg – resigned. This leaves the Commission with three members: Commissioner Hostler-Carmesin, appointed in June 2013, and Commissioners Sklar and Williams, both appointed in June 2015.
Upon his departure, Commissioner Kellogg lamented some of the changes he perceived to be occurring at the Commission in an article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. There are many perspectives on the extent of change and whether it is positive or negative. Irrespective, change is underway, and it is happening on the heels of changes made to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) by the legislature. A bill passed in 2012 (AB 2402), which we described here, changed the name of the Department from the Department of Fish and Game to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and made numerous other changes to the Fish and Game Code, including the addition of new provisions establishing a Science Institute.