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Sea otter fund makes it by a whisker

July 29, 2008 | 10:18 am


From The Times' new blog on environmental issues, Greenspace, comes this report from Kenneth R. Weiss (who also took the adorable photo):

It's not every day that people want to pay more taxes. But the tug on the heartstrings appears to be opening purse strings -- at least for another year.

California taxpayers have voluntarily donated $253,350 so far this year by checking a box on their income tax returns and making donations. The amount is important to proponents because it assures that the donation box will appear again on next year's state income tax returns, funneling more money to the California Sea Otter Fund.

The fund was established in 2006 by a pair of state lawmakers who wanted scientists to have more money to try to save the southern sea otter that has struggled for survival since it was hunted nearly to extinction by 19th century fur trappers. But the donations must keep flowing, at a rate of a quarter of a million dollars a year, for the fund to stay in operation.

"The generosity of Californians during tough economic times shows that support for our environment and emblematic animals like the sea otter runs deep in our state," said Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento).

He and John Laird, a Democratic assemblyman from Santa Cruz, fashioned the law to split the money between the state Coastal Conservancy and the California Department of Fish and Game for various research projects including those focused on diseases that kill otters and law enforcement actions against fishermen who shoot them.

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