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PRC Sec 28000-28007 MORRO BAY MANAGEMENT PLAN
PUBLIC RESOURCES CODE
28000. The Legislature hereby finds and declares all of the
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
28002. For purposes of this division, the following terms have the
(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
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.