Posted by . on January 24, 2004 at 16:55:14:
State fish and game officials stung by budget cuts are turning to private foundations to start a chain of protected marine areas along California's 1,100-mile coast.
The Fish and Game Department says otherwise it will never make its Jan. 1, 2005 deadline to propose protected areas for ocean fishing and conservation.
The state's 1999 Marine Life Protection Act proposed a series of protected areas in the ocean similar to wildlife preserves and wilderness areas on land.
But years of budget cuts have trimmed the fish and game department's technical staff by one third and put the process on hold in the waning days of the Gov. Gray Davis administration. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's new budget put the idea on indefinite hold.
Environmentalists said they are eying the $6 billion David and Lucille Packard Foundation, which has contributed in the past to marine programs.
Packard Foundation officials declined comment on whether they are discussing the idea with the state.
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