Law:Division 18. Morro Bay Management Plan (California)

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Ca Codes (prc:28000-28007) Public Resources Code Section 28000-28007



28000. The Legislature hereby finds and declares all of the following: (a) There has long been a public concern for protecting and preserving the natural resources, wildlife habitat, recreational, and other environmental values, and public health at Morro Bay and its watershed, beginning with Senate Resolution 176 in 1966. (b) In 1966, the Senate declared that the preservation of Morro Bay's fish, wildlife, recreational and aesthetic resources is of great importance to the people of California, and directed the Resources Agency to conduct a study of Morro Bay and its watershed and to prepare a plan for the preservation of the natural resources of the bay and watershed. (c) The need for a management plan for Morro Bay was demonstrated in a 1966 study by the Department of Fish and Game, resulting from the Senate resolution, which described Morro Bay's rich natural resources and proposed the formation of a multiagency planning task force to prepare a comprehensive area plan for approval by the Legislature. (d) The need for developing a management plan for Morro Bay was recognized in 1975 by the report of an intergovernmental task force, "A Coastal Watershed Environmental Management System-Morro Bay, California," which recommended various models of cooperative and comprehensive planning and management of Morro Bay and its watershed. (e) The Morro Bay Task Force, composed of representatives of 50 government agencies and interest groups, was established in 1987 and adopted as a goal the long-term preservation, conservation, and enhancement of Morro Bay. It selected management planning as the best means to pursue that goal. (f) The need to develop and carry out a management plan for Morro Bay and its watershed has been clearly recognized by the Legislature in adopting Assembly Concurrent Resolution 118 in 1990 (Resolution Chapter 58 of the Statutes of 1990). (g) This need is also recognized by the approval by the Governor of the nomination of Morro Bay for the National Estuary Program, as developed and adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board. The development of a management plan for Morro Bay will improve the likelihood that Morro Bay will be accepted into the National Estuary Program. (h) The Congress of the United States is expected to renew and revise the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. Sec. 1250 et seq.), and to include funding for watershed management planning. Designating Morro Bay and its watershed as a management planning area will increase the likelihood that Congress will allocate federal funds for Morro Bay management planning. (i) There is now clear and compelling evidence that Morro Bay is suffering from an unnaturally rapid, undesirable, and irreversible deterioration as a unique and valuable natural resource, including (1) a 1988 study, funded by the State Coastal Conservancy, which determined that Morro Bay has lost over 30 percent of its estuary over the last 100 years, and that it continues to be threatened by unnaturally rapid sedimentation and the loss of riparian flow caused by activities on state-owned and local agency-owned properties and on privately owned agricultural lands within the watershed, and (2) occasional, recent measurements by the State Department of Health Services of coliform content that exceed safe levels. (j) The need to prevent erosion in the Morro Bay watershed, which results in further sedimentation and loss of bay habitat, has been clearly recognized by the commitment of over three million dollars ($3,000,000) to watershed enhancement projects, mostly through the State Coastal Conservancy. (k) The Morro Bay watershed was selected as the pilot watershed for developing California's nonpoint source pollution regulations to comply with the federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. Sec. 1451 et seq.). (l) There are unknown factors influencing the health of Morro Bay which need study, including (1) unsafe levels of nitrates in groundwater in residential areas adjoining the bay, coupled with rapidly increasing coverage of intertidal mudflats with algae, and (2) occasional quarantine of oyster production in Morro Bay because of paralytic poisoning caused by planktonic invasion. (m) Morro Bay is an essential link in the Pacific Flyway, providing the state's largest waterfowl habitat south of San Francisco. Annually, Morro Bay has the second or third largest Audubon count of bird species in the nation. (n) Morro Bay offers many beneficial human uses, such as oyster farming, harboring commercial and recreational fishing boats, recreational boating, and aesthetic tourist attractions supporting a large business community. A healthy bay is important for all of these activities and enterprises. (o) Morro Bay remains relatively unspoiled. Action to maintain and enhance it will be far less costly than restoring it after deterioration. (p) Through the efforts of governmental agencies and volunteer organizations communicating through the Morro Bay Task Force, strong, widespread, multipartisan support for the development of a management plan has arisen. Cooperative effort and the involvement of all concerned has already been established as the method to follow in planning. (q) It is necessary to develop a comprehensive management plan for Morro Bay to conduct research, to coordinate the monitoring of sediment and water quality, to promote coordinated education and public outreach programs, and to identify and seek sources of funding for these activities.


28001. It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this division to do all of the following: (a) Recognize the importance of preserving and enhancing Morro Bay and its watershed as one of the state's rare natural treasures. (b) Recognize the importance of commercial enterprises in and around Morro Bay to the economic and employment base of the area. (c) Authorize the development of a management plan for Morro Bay and its watershed that will protect its natural attributes in balance with the maintenance and enhancement of human activity and enterprise in the bay and its watershed. (d) Provide a basis for public agencies which have jurisdiction over parts of, or over activities within, the bay and its watershed, to carry out the management plan. (e) Encourage federal agencies and nongovernmental groups to support the accomplishment of these purposes. (f) Provide for continuing current legal uses in the bay and its watershed.


28002. For purposes of this division, the following terms have the following meanings: (a) "Agency" means the California Environmental Protection Agency. (b) "Bay" means Morro Bay and its watershed. (c) "Plan" means the Morro Bay management plan developed pursuant to this division. (d) "State Estuary" means a saltwater bay or body of water and its watershed within the state where freshwater streams enter, that supports beneficial human uses and wildlife and merits high-priority action for preservation.


28003. Morro Bay and San Diego Bay are each hereby designated a State Estuary. Morro Bay and its watershed are hereby designated a State Estuary planning area.


28004. (a) (1) The agency shall convene the Morro Bay Management Plan Task Force to develop the plan. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board shall be utilized to carry out necessary administrative functions, including selecting a temporary chairperson of the task force, until such time as the task force establishes its own organization, leadership, and procedures. The task force shall meet at least four times each calendar year. The task force shall submit the plan to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors and to the Morro Bay City Council for approval. Following that approval, the task force shall, on or before July 1, 1997, submit the plan to the Legislature. (2) On and after July 1, 1997, the task force shall, on an ongoing basis, make recommendations to the agency regarding the need for any revisions in the plan. (3) The task force shall terminate as of June 30, 2007. (b) The agency shall encourage all local, state, and federal agencies with jurisdiction over parts of, or activities within, the bay and its watershed to participate in the task force. The agency shall also encourage the participation of all interested business and agricultural groups, commercial organizations, environmental groups, and any other interested groups or individuals. (1) Participating agencies may include, but are not limited to, the agency, the National Guard, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Corrections, the State Department of Health Services, the California Coastal Commission, the State Water Resources Control Board, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District, the State Coastal Conservancy, the California Conservation Corps, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, the University of California Agricultural Extension, the County of San Luis Obispo, and the City of Morro Bay. (2) Other participants may include, but are not limited to, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, agricultural groups, commercial fishing, mariculture, and fish processing groups, local chambers of commerce, and members of the tourist industry. (3) The costs incurred by each voluntary participant in the task force shall be limited to the costs of its own participation at the meetings called by the chairperson of the task force.


28005. The plan shall include provisions for the protection and enhancement of every aspect of the health of the bay. Proposed actions and projects for those purposes shall have target dates for completion and provisions for participation by state and local agencies in those actions and projects. The plan shall identify research that is needed to make future decisions in revising the plan.

28006. This division does not provide any funds to carry out the plan. However, state, local, and federal agencies are hereby encouraged to allocate funds to carry out the plan. Private foundations, businesses, and nonprofit corporations are urged to donate funds to achieve the objectives of the plan.


28007. At two-year intervals after the plan is submitted to the Legislature, the agency shall call a task force meeting to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan and to make any necessary revisions in the plan. The revisions shall be subject to the same approval process as the original plan.


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