Skip to main content

Assemblymember Connolly Codifies & Expands Beaver Restoration Program

AB 2196 advocates for the restoration of beavers back into traditional and historical wildlife habitats.

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Assemblymember Damon Connolly (D-San Rafael) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 2196, which codifies the work of the Beaver Restoration Program. The Beaver Restoration Program authorizes the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to relocate beavers to better allow this keystone species to assist in restoring watershed and ecosystem properties in the areas that need it most. This bill directs the CDFW to expand this relocation effort by developing a program to authorize non-CDFW staff to carry out relocation.

“Beavers are an instrumental keystone species to our ecosystems, and they play a vital role in maintaining the habitats around them for the benefit of other species,” said Assemblymember Damon Connolly. “The initiative to restore beavers back into their original wildlife habitats is beneficial to species recovery, improving habitat complexity, and enhancing watershed restoration through dam complexes.”

In 2023, CDFW established the Beaver Restoration Program, which includes the goals of working with tribes, non-governmental organizations, private landowners, and other agencies to implement beaver-assisted restoration projects that support ecosystem conservation, habitat restoration, species conservation, and improve climate change, drought, and wildfire resiliency throughout California. Because the Beaver Restoration Program was created through a budget proposal, the objectives of the CDFW program are not codified to ensure this important work remains a priority in the future. The Beaver Restoration Program currently allows only CDFW personnel to possess, transport, and release beavers on private or public lands. However, future relocation efforts would benefit from the partnership of non-CDFW personnel, which would require statutory authorization that clearly empowers CDFW to create or approve a training and licensing regime that allows such individuals to work collaboratively with the state.

"As an organization that was founded to protect our water resources and communities that depend on them, Clean Water Action is pleased to see the introduction of AB 2196 and will be supporting the bill," said Andria Ventura, Legislative and Policy Director for Clean Water Action & Clean Water Fun. "Beaver in their natural habitat bring multiple environmental benefits, including restoration of essential wetlands and subsequent improvements to water quality and storage so necessary in this time of drought and climate change.  This bill is important restoring beaver in California in a commonsense manner to protect not only this keystone species, but land owners as well.  Please thank Assemblymember Connelly for his leadership on this issue.  This bill goes way beyond just preserving wildlife.  It has very human implications as well."

"Beavers have long been recognized as fundamental to creating and preserving healthy habitat,” said Ashley Eagle-Gibbs, Executive Director, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. “AB 2196 opens the door for the science-based management of this species. This is consistent with our state's 30x30 goals, helps contribute to wildfire mitigation strategies, and preserves water-rich ecosystems for the benefit of wildlife and humans alike. The Environmental Action Committee of West Marin supports the bill including supporting partnerships with California Native American tribes and nonprofit organizations. We are excited to see beaver reintroduction moving forward in California, and we thank Assemblymember Connolly for his leadership on this important issue."

AB 2196 establishes important findings that document beaver’s history and native status in the state, and the strong evidence of the benefits to the environment and habitats associated with restoring the keystone species. This bill codifies the work of the Beaver Restoration Program and directs CDFW to expand the relocation effort by developing a program to authorize non-CDFW staff to carry out relocation pursuant to CDFW’s new training and licensing requirements.

“AB 2196 represents an important step forward for freshwater and fisheries restoration practices in California,” said Redgie Collins, Legal and Policy Director, CalTrout. “Our native salmon and trout are adapted to coexist with beaver which slow, spread and cool water. Beaver are a nature based solution that benefits fish, water supplies and people.”

“Thanks to the Governor’s leadership, California is bringing beavers back and we’re thrilled that Assemblymember Connolly wants to ensure they continue to thrive by codifying the program and setting a course for expanded efforts,” said Kate Lundquist, co-director of the WATER Institute at Occidental Arts & Ecology Center. “The collaborative momentum between state officials, Tribal leaders, nonprofits, and local governments is inspiring and poised to continue.”

AB 2196 is currently waiting to be assigned to a policy committee.


Assembymember Connolly represents the entirety of Marin County and Southern Sonoma County