(a) The administrator shall establish a network of rescue and rehabilitation stations for wildlife injured by oil spills, including sea otters and other marine mammals. In addition to rehabilitative care, the primary focus of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network shall include proactive oiled wildlife search and collection rescue efforts. These facilities shall be established and maintained in a state of preparedness to provide the best achievable treatment for wildlife, mammals, and birds affected by an oil spill in waters of the state. The administrator shall consider all feasible management alternatives for operation of the network. (b)(1) The first rescue and rehabilitation station established pursuant to this section shall be located within the sea otter range on the central coast. The administrator initially shall establish regional oiled wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facilities in the Los Angeles Harbor area, the San Francisco Bay area, the San Diego area, the Monterey Bay area, the Humboldt County area, and the Santa Barbara area. The administrator also may establish facilities in other areas of the state as the administrator determines to be necessary. (2) One or more of the oiled wildlife rescue and rehabilitation stations shall be open to the public for educational purposes and shall be available for wildlife health research. Wherever possible in the establishment of these facilities, the administrator shall improve existing authorized wildlife rehabilitation facilities and may expand or take advantage of existing educational or scientific programs and institutions for oiled wildlife rehabilitation purposes. Expenditures shall be reviewed by the agencies and organizations specified in subdivision (c). (c) The administrator shall consult with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the California Coastal Commission, the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the Marine Mammal Center, and the International Bird Rescue in the design, planning, construction, and operation of the rescue and rehabilitation stations. All proposals for the rescue and rehabilitation stations shall be presented before a public hearing prior to the construction and operation of any rehabilitation station, and, upon completion of the coastal protection element of the California oil spill contingency plan, shall be consistent with the coastal protection element. (d) The administrator may enter into agreements with nonprofit organizations to establish and equip wildlife rescue and rehabilitation stations and to ensure that they are operated in a professional manner in keeping with the pertinent guidance documents issued by the administrator. The implementation of the agreement shall not constitute a California public works project. The agreement shall be deemed a contract for wildlife rehabilitation as authorized by Section 8670.61.5. (e) In the event of a spill, the responsible party may request that the administrator perform the rescue and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife required of the responsible party pursuant to this chapter if the responsible party and the administrator enter into an agreement for the reimbursement of the administrator's costs incurred in taking the requested action. If the administrator performs the rescue and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife, the administrator shall primarily utilize the network of rescue and rehabilitation stations established pursuant to subdivision (a), unless more immediate care is required. Any of those activities conducted pursuant to this section or Section 8670.56.5 or 8670.61.5 shall be performed under the direction of the administrator. This subdivision does not remove the responsible party from liability for the costs of, or the responsibility for, the rescue and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife, as established by this chapter. This subdivision does not prohibit an owner or operator from retaining, in a contingency plan prepared pursuant to this article, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation services different from the rescue and rehabilitation stations established pursuant to this section. (f)(1) The administrator shall appoint a rescue and rehabilitation advisory board to advise the administrator regarding operation of the network of rescue and rehabilitation stations established pursuant to subdivision (a), including the economic operation and maintenance of the network. For the purpose of assisting the administrator in determining what constitutes the best achievable treatment for oiled wildlife, the advisory board shall provide recommendations to the administrator on the care achieved by current standard treatment methods, new or alternative treatment methods, the costs of treatment methods, and any other information that the advisory board believes that the administrator might find useful in making that determination. The administrator shall consult with the advisory board in preparing the administrator's submission to the Legislature pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 8670.40.5. The administrator shall present the recommendations of the advisory board to the Oil Spill Technical Advisory Committee created pursuant to Article 8 (commencing with Section 8670.54), upon the request of the committee. (2) The advisory board shall consist of a balance between representatives of the oil industry, wildlife rehabilitation organizations, and academia. One academic representative shall be from a veterinary school within this state. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National (3)(A) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that since the administrator may rely on the expertise provided by the volunteer members of the advisory board and may be guided by their recommendations in making decisions that relate to the operation of the network of rescue and rehabilitation stations, those members should be entitled to the same immunity from liability that is provided other public employees. (B) Members of the advisory board, while performing functions within the scope of advisory board duties, shall be entitled to the same rights and immunities granted public employees by Article 3 (commencing with Section 820) of Chapter 1 of Part 2 of Division 3.6 of Title 1. Those rights and immunities are deemed to have attached, and shall attach, as of the date of appointment of the member to the advisory board. (g) The administrator shall ensure the state's ability to prevent the contamination of wildlife and to identify, collect, rescue, and treat oiled wildlife through all of the following: (1) Providing for the recruitment and training of an adequate network of wildlife specialists and volunteers from Oiled Wildlife Care Network participant organizations who can be called into immediate action in the event of an oil spill to assist in the field with collection of live oiled wildlife. The training shall include a process for certification of trained volunteers and renewal of certifications. The initial wildlife rescue training shall include field experience in species identification and appropriate field collection techniques for species at risk in different spills. In addition to training in wildlife rescue, the administrator shall provide for appropriate hazardous materials training for new volunteers and contract personnel, with refresher courses offered as necessary to allow for continual readiness of search and collection teams. Moneys in the Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fund shall not be used to reimburse volunteers for time or travel associated with required training. (2) Developing and implementing a plan for the provision of emergency equipment for wildlife rescue in strategic locations to facilitate ready deployment in the case of an oil spill. The administrator shall ensure that the equipment identified as necessary in his or her wildlife response plan is available and deployed in a timely manner to assist in providing the best achievable protection and collection efforts. (3) Developing the capacity of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to recruit and train an adequate field team for collection of live oiled wildlife, as specified in paragraph (1), by providing staffing for field operations, coordination, and volunteer outreach for the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. The duties of the field operations and volunteer outreach staff shall include recruitment and coordination of additional participation in the Oiled Wildlife Marine Fisheries Service shall be requested to participate as ex officio Care Network by other existing organizations with experience and expertise in wildlife rescue and handling, including scientific organizations, educational institutions, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to wildlife conservation, and recruitment, training, and supervision of volunteers from Oiled Wildlife Care Network participating organizations. (4) Ensuring that qualified persons with experience and expertise in wildlife rescue are assigned to oversee and supervise wildlife recovery search and collection efforts, as specified in the administrator's wildlife response plan. The administrator shall provide for and ensure that all persons involved in field collection of oiled wildlife receive training in search and capture techniques and hazardous materials certification, as appropriate.members.
Citation: Cal. Gov't Code § 8670.37.5 (West)