California Public Resources Code
This division shall be known and may be cited as the Suisun Marsh Preservation Act of 1977.
The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the Suisun Marsh, consisting of approximately 55,000 acres of marshland and 30,000 acres of bays and sloughs, and comprising almost 10 percent of the remaining natural wetlands in California, plays an important role in providing wintering habitat for waterfowl of the Pacific Flyway; that during years of drought the area becomes particularly important to waterfowl by virtue of its large expanse of aquatic habitat and the scarcity of such habitat elsewhere; that the area provides critical habitat for other wildlife forms, including such endangered, rare, or unique species as the peregrine falcon, white-tailed kite, golden eagle, California clapper rail, black rail, salt-marsh harvest mouse, and Suisun shrew; that the existence of this wide variety of wildlife is due to the relatively large expanse of unbroken native habitat and the diversity of vegetation and acquatic conditions that prevail in the marsh; that man is an integral part of the present marsh ecosystem and, to a significant extent, exercises control over the widespread presence of water and the abundant source of waterfowl foods; that the Suisun Marsh represents a unique and irreplaceable resource to the people of the state and nation; that future residential, commercial, and industrial developments could adversely affect the wildlife value of the area; and that it is the policy of the state to preserve and protect resources of this nature for the enjoyment of the current and succeeding generations.
The Legislature further finds and declares that, in order to preserve the integrity and assure continued wildlife use of the Suisun Marsh, including the preservation of its waterfowl-carrying capacity and retention of the diversity of its flora and fauna, there is a need for all of the following:
(a) Provisions for establishment and maintenance of adequate water quality.
(b) Improvement of present water management practices, including drainage and other water control facilities within the Suisun Marsh.
(c) Establishment of criteria for the production of valuable waterfowl food plants.
(d) Provisions for future supplemental water supplies and related facilities to assure that adequate water quality will be achieved within the wetland areas.
(e) Development and implementation of plans and policies to protect the marsh from degradation by excessive human use.
(f) Definition and establishment of a buffer area consisting of upland areas that have high wildlife values themselves and also contribute to the integrity and continued wildlife use of the wetlands within the marsh.
The Legislature further finds and declares as follows: (a) That the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the Department of Fish and Game, pursuant to the Nejedly-Bagley-Z'berg Suisun Marsh Preservation Act of 1974 (former Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 1850) of Division 2 of the Fish and Game Code), have made a detailed study of the Suisun Marsh; that there has been extensive participation by other governmental agencies, private interests, and the general public in the study; and that, based on the study, the commission has prepared the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan for the orderly and long-range conservation, use, and management of the natural, scenic, recreational, and manmade resources of the marsh.
(b) That the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan contains a series of recommendations which require implementation by the Legislature; and, accordingly, these recommendations are implemented in the manner provided in this division.
The Legislature further finds and declares as follows: (a) That, to achieve maximum responsiveness to local conditions, public accountability, and public accessibility, it is necessary to rely heavily on local government and local land use planning procedures and enforcement.
(b) That, to ensure maximum state and federal conformity with the provisions of this division; to protect regional, state, and national interests in assuring the maintenance of the long-term productivity of the Suisun Marsh; to avoid long-term costs to the public and a diminished quality of life resulting from the misuse of the marsh; to coordinate and integrate the activities of the many agencies whose activities impact the marsh; and to supplement the activities of such agencies in matters not properly within the jurisdiction of any existing agency; it is appropriate to provide for continued state planning and management through the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which since 1965 has exercised jurisdiction over a substantial portion of the Suisun Marsh pursuant to Title 7.2 (commencing with Section 66600) of the Government Code.
No provision of this division is a limitation on any of the following:
(a) On the power of a city, county, or district, except as otherwise limited by state law, to adopt and enforce regulations, in addition to, and not in conflict with, the requirements of this division, imposing further conditions, restrictions, or limitations with respect to any land or water use or other activity that might adversely affect the resources of the marsh.
(b) On the power of any city, county, or district to declare, prohibit, and abate nuisances.
(c) On the power of the Attorney General to bring an action in the name of the people of the state on his own motion or at the request of any state agency having standing under provisions of law other than this division, to enjoin any waste or pollution of the marsh or any nuisance.
(d) On the right of any person to maintain an appropriate action for relief against a private nuisance or any other private relief.
The Legislature further finds and declares that the public has a right to participate fully in governmental decisions affecting planning, conservation, and development of the Suisun Marsh; that achievement of sound protection of the marsh is dependent upon public understanding and support; and that continuing planning and implementation of programs for marsh protection should include the opportunity for public participation.
The Legislature further finds and declares that the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan is a more specific application of the general, regional policies of the San Francisco Bay Plan prepared and administered by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission pursuant to Title 7.2 (commencing with Section 66600) of the Government Code, and is an appropriate supplement to those policies because of the unique characteristics of the Suisun Marsh. Therefore, the Legislature declares that the appropriate policies of both the San Francisco Bay Plan and the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan shall apply within any area that is within the commission's jurisdiction, as defined in Section 66610 of the Government Code, and that is also within the marsh, as defined in Section 29101 of this code, except where the San Francisco Bay Plan and the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan may conflict. If a conflict occurs in a specific instance, the policies of the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan shall control.
The Legislature further finds and declares that land within or adjacent to the Suisun Marsh should be acquired for public use or resource management, or both, and facilities suitable for such purposes should be constructed thereon, if the land meets one or more of the following criteria:
(a) It is suitable for passive recreational purposes such as fishing and nature observation and is located in the outer portions of the marsh near population centers or existing transportation routes, such as State Highway Route 12.
(b) It is suitable for the purpose of restoring areas to tidal action or to marsh or managed-wetland conditions and such restoration cannot be required as a condition of private development.
(c) It is suitable for providing additional wildlife habitat necessary to effective wildlife management, including consolidation of management units and improved public hunting opportunities. Acquisitions within this category should avoid privately owned property already managed as wildlife habitat unless offered for sale to the state.
(a) The Legislature further finds that: (1) The Suisun Marsh is located where the saltwater of the Pacific Ocean and the freshwater of the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Delta meet and mix; and because of its location, the marsh provides a transition zone between salt-and fresh-water habitats, creating a unique diversity of fish and wildlife habitats.
(2) Water quality in the marsh is dependent on the salinity of the water in sloughs of the marsh, which depends in turn on the amount of freshwater flowing in from the delta.
(3) Numerous upstream storage facilities, together with diversions of water from the delta and tributary streams of the delta, have substantially reduced the amount of freshwater flowing into the marsh from the delta.
(4) Further substantial diversions are planned, and these diversions will have adverse impacts in the marsh through increased salinity intrusion unless adequate mitigation measures are taken.
(5) Possible mitigation measures, including the development of other sources of freshwater for the marsh, have been under study by a variety of state and federal agencies.
(6) Protection of the marsh from salinity intrusion, particularly protection through the development of alternative sources of freshwater for the marsh, cannot be considered independently of other issues relating to the management of California's water resources, and discussions are now underway among various agencies of the state and federal governments to resolve such issues.
(b) The Legislature, therefore, declares that it expects any resolution of these issues, whether by written agreement, federal legislation, state legislation, or any combination thereof, will protect the marsh from the adverse impacts of salinity intrusion and from any other significant adverse impacts.
The Legislature further finds and declares that the Suisun Marsh is a fragile ecological system and that, in order to protect wildlife, many areas of the marsh should not be subject to extensive human intrusion. Highest priority, therefore, should be given to developing and maintaining opportunities for public access on lands currently in, or in the future to be in, public ownership.
This division shall be liberally construed to accomplish its purposes and objectives.
The Legislature hereby finds and declares that this division is not intended to authorize, and shall not be construed as authorizing, the commission or local government acting pursuant to this division, to exercise their powers to grant or deny a permit in a manner which will take or damage private property for public use, without the payment of just compensation therefor. This section is not intended to increase or decrease the rights of any owner of property under the Constitution of the State of California or of the United States.
The Legislature finds and declares it is not its intent in enacting this division to grant the commission any authority over any development outside the Suisun Marsh, except as expressly authorized in Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 29200) and in Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 29400). Except as provided in Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 29200), neither the provisions of this division nor of the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan shall apply to any permit, development, or any other action or project which occurs outside of the marsh prior to the approval of the local protection program and its certification by the commission, as provided in Article 2 (commencing with Section 29410) of Chapter 5.