Fishing resources

Conservation Board celebrates 75 years of resource protection

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB). Established by statute in 1947, WCB protects, restores and enhances California’s spectacular natural resources in partnership with conservation groups, government agencies and the people of California. This collaborative effort aims to protect biodiversity, increase climate resilience and provide access for all.

Existing within the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), WCB is a separate, independent board that allocates funds for the preservation, protection, and restoration of wildlife habitat and related outdoor public use facilities. The three main functions – land acquisition, habitat restoration and the development of wildlife-focused public access facilities – are carried out through WCB’s 16 programs with funding from government bonds, special funds and general funds.

Early WCB programs funded land acquisition, habitat improvement and restoration, and public access, with early projects including hatcheries, CDFW wildlife area development, and access for hunting and fishing. In the 1960s, the ecological reserve system was created and projects were expanded to benefit threatened and endangered species.

Much has changed in California over the past 75 years and priorities have changed accordingly. Currently, WCB is focused on protecting biodiversity, climate resilience, increasing work in disadvantaged communities, and the state’s 30×30 initiative, with the goal of protecting 30% of coastal land and waters. by 2030. This work is underscored by the increasing severity of drought, devastating fires and the impacts of climate change.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the work of the WCB through continued collaboration and partnerships with those implementing projects on the ground,” said WCB CEO John Donnelly. “We are also committed to expanding these partnerships and will focus our efforts where the needs are greatest. The importance of our collective efforts continues to be crucial and timely. Much work remains to be done, and we look forward to expanded opportunities to protect fish and wildlife and provide public access to California’s magnificent natural resources.

WCB has worked with numerous partners since its inception to preserve land and public access throughout the state, with a record including:

• Nearly 1.8 million acres of protected land

• 970,000 acres of land restored

• 1,900 acquisition projects

• 2,050 restoration projects

• $3.5 billion invested

“So much incredible work has been done in 75 years by the WCB,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This moment truly brings great hope for all the work over the next 75 years between the council, conservation organizations, landowners, tribes, cities and counties to benefit this great state.”

More information about the WCB can be found on the WCB website, including a list of frequently asked questions.