The name of the agency is the state Fish and Game Department. It is not the state Fish and Game Killing Department. But some sportsmen are unhappy that the department is moving into wildlife management activities that do not involve fishing and hunting. Actually, the development is quite exciting and will serve millions of Californians with an opportunity to observe at close hand the richness and diversity of the state's natural areas and marine, animal and bird life.
Under the leadership of the department's energetic new director, Pete Bontadelli, Fish and Game is seeking to bolster its important role of managing, preserving and enhancing 400,000 acres of California wetlands, ecological preserves and wildlife habitats and making those areas accessible to Californians and visitors from other states. The program would be financed by the sale of access permits that are the equivalent of hunting and fishing licenses.
Initially the program would involve nine areas ranging from the Ash Creek Wildlife Area in Lassen and Modoc counties in northeastern California to the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve in Orange County. Plans include interpretive centers to be staffed by naturalists or other specialists who would conduct tours, give nature talks and the like. At Newport, for example, funds would be used for interpretive displays and to build a boardwalk to facilitate observation of the marsh area and its marine and bird life and plant species.