California Assembly Overwhelmingly Supports “Beaver Bill”

Assembly Bill 2196 to codify the state’s new Beaver Restoration Program heads to Senate

May 22, 2024 

SACRAMENTO, CA—Yesterday, Assembly Bill (AB) 2196 by Assemblymember Damon Connolly (D-San Rafael) passed the State Assembly by a vote of 72-0. Sponsored by the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, AB 2196 aims to ensure the longevity of the Beaver Restoration Program at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which was created by the FY2022-23 Budget Act. Beaver are keystone species that assist in restoring watershed and ecosystem functions in areas that need them most.

“California is bringing beaver back and we’re thrilled that Assemblymember Connolly has the strong support of his colleagues to codify the program created by Governor Newsom’s administration in 2022,” said Kate Lundquist, Co-Director of the WATER Institute at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center. “The collaborative momentum between state officials, tribal leaders, nonprofits, and local governments is inspiring and poised to continue.”

The Beaver Restoration Program works with tribes, non-governmental organizations, private landowners, and other agencies to implement beaver-assisted restoration projects that support ecosystem conservation, habitat restoration, and species conservation, and improve climate change, drought, and wildfire resilience throughout California. 

“Beavers are an instrumental keystone species to our ecosystems, and they play a vital role in maintaining and engineering habitats that have widespread environmental and climate benefits,” said Assemblymember Damon Connolly. “AB 2196 will codify the Beaver Restoration Program in statute and ensure this important species continues to play a role in meeting our climate goals. I’m proud that this bill is supported by nearly fifty environmental protection, conservation, wildlife advocacy, sustainable agriculture, and other science-based organizations.”

AB 2196 establishes important findings that document beaver history and native status in the state and strong evidence of the benefits to the environment and habitats associated with restoring the keystone species. 

The bill is now pending in the California State Senate, where it will be heard by a policy committee in June.

Comments from other supporters:

“AB 2196 represents an important step forward for freshwater and fisheries restoration practices in California,” said Redgie Collins, Legal and Policy Director, CalTrout. “Our native salmon and trout are adapted to coexist with beaver which slow, spread and cool water. Beaver are a nature-based solution that benefit fish, water supplies, and people.”

“As an organization that was founded to protect our water resources and communities that depend on them, Clean Water supports AB 2196,” said Andria Ventura, Legislative and Policy Director for Clean Water Action & Clean Water Fund. “Beaver in their natural habitat bring multiple environmental benefits, including restoration of essential wetlands and subsequent improvements to water quality and storage so necessary in this time of drought and climate change. Restoring beaver in California in a commonsense manner protects not only this keystone species but landowners as well. This bill goes way beyond just preserving wildlife.  It has very human implications as well.”

“Beavers have long been recognized as fundamental to creating and preserving healthy habitat,” said Ashley Eagle-Gibbs, Executive Director, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. “AB 2196 opens the door for the science-based management of this species. This is consistent with our state’s 30×30 goals, helps contribute to wildfire mitigation strategies, and preserves water-rich ecosystems for the benefit of wildlife and humans alike. The Environmental Action Committee of West Marin supports the bill including supporting partnerships with California Native American tribes and nonprofit organizations. We are excited to see beaver reintroduction moving forward in California, and we thank Assemblymember Connolly for his leadership on this important issue.”

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