State and Federal Wildlife Managers Preparing Habitat for Migrating Birds

Media Contacts:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-1829

Each year millions of birds migrate along the Pacific Flyway relying on a diverse string of habitats that stretch from Alaska and Canada to Central and South America. While the wetlands of the Central Valley provide less than 5 percent of the habitat historically available, they are critical as a feeding area during the migration and wintering of these birds. In following its mission, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has responsibility to provide habitat for these migrating birds.

Because habitat conditions on the northern breeding grounds have been good, a higher number of migratory birds have been reported across the Pacific Flyway. The fall migration into California is anticipated to result in numbers like those seen in the 1970s, when record numbers of birds made their way to the state’s wetlands areas. As California endures one of the worst droughts in recorded history, managers of state, federal and privately owned wildlife areas have been coordinating operational planning and the potential impacts of drought on the coming waves of migratory birds that depend on California habitats. To support these birds during their long migration, these efforts will greatly improve our ability to maximize habitat and food resources over the fall and winter with reduced water supplies.

“As the drought continues, it will be of key importance to balance the habitat needs of migratory birds and other species with the overall needs of domestic and agricultural uses,” said CDFW Deputy Director Dan Yparraguirre. “The situation is changing constantly so we will have to make some tough decisions ahead. We will continue to work with our partners to provide much needed habitat for waterfowl. In doing so, we will be employing the most efficient water saving strategies we can that provide the highest benefit to wildlife. Throughout the state, CDFW staff is carefully developing the most effective actions to conserve water and provide critical habitat.”

Migratory birds begin showing up in the Central Valley as early as July, with peak populations typically occurring in December and January. To accommodate the birds, wildlife area and refuge managers typically create habitat through water delivery to some wetlands in stages. As a result of extremely limited water supply this year, habitat availability on public areas will be all the more critical for early migrating species and to maintain natural habitat to reduce depredation on agricultural lands. Birds will congregate on fewer, smaller wetlands, likely increasing the effect of disease, which occurs even in wet years. Recreational opportunities on some public areas may be limited and reduced managed wetlands may also increase depredation on nearby agricultural fields.

Some state wildlife areas and the National Wildlife Refuge System were established as long ago as 1937 to provide core habitat areas and offset crop depredation by migratory waterfowl. State and federal agencies have relied on strong partnerships with nongovernmental organizations and private landowners to implement wetland habitat management and wildlife-friendly farming practices to meet the habitat needs in the Klamath Basin, Sacramento Valley, Suisun Marsh, San Joaquin Valley and the Imperial Valley regions.  Those partnerships and private lands programs have resulted in providing two-thirds of the wetland acreage while the wildlife areas and refuges provide the remaining one-third.

In support of the habitat needs and as part of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA), the federal water project dedicates water supplies to 18 state and federal refuges throughout the Central Valley and the Grasslands Water District in Merced County. Due to limited water resources, these wetland habitats will be receiving only a portion of the water this year. Water supply quantities available to support the wetlands range from 30 percent at Kern National Wildlife Refuge south of the Delta, to 75 percent at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, north of the Delta. Other refuges and private wetlands that do not receive CVPIA water are also facing significant water reductions. While strong partnerships and coordination make maximizing water resources possible, the extremely limited water supplies are anticipated to result in a 25 percent reduction of all managed wetland and significantly larger reductions of wildlife-friendly farming which will likely impact birds and humans alike.

“Scientists are predicting one of the largest Pacific Flyway bird migrations this fall due to a wet spring and above average breeding conditions in the north. With California’s historic drought, this could be a devastating year for birds,” said Sandi Matsumoto, senior project director of The Nature Conservancy’s migratory bird initiative. “The Nature Conservancy is very concerned about protecting enough viable wetland habitat for the incoming migratory birds. We are working with partners, such as CDFW, to reduce the potential negative impacts.”

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste – visit saveourwater.com to find out how everyone can do their part, and visit drought.ca.gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.

For more information on CDFW’s actions to protect and preserve the state’s wildlife resources during this exceptional drought, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/drought.

 

Resource Agency Officers Arrest Pot Growers in Sonoma County

Media Contacts:
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Jeremy Stinson, State Parks Law Enforcement, (707) 875-3907
Vicky Waters, State Parks Communications, (916) 653-5115

Law enforcement officers from the California Natural Resources Agency arrested four men for cultivating marijuana in a remote area of Austin Creek State Recreation Area in Sonoma County over the weekend.

California State Park Rangers have been watching the illegal grow site for months after it was reported to officials by a park employee. On Aug. 2, officers cut down and removed more than 150 fully grown marijuana plants with an approximate value of $300,000. All the marijuana plants were growing inside the park boundaries.

“As the drought wears on, marijuana growers are likely to be more and more creative in finding places to set up these illegal grows where they can find easy access to water,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Assistant Chief Briand Naslund. “Marijuana uses six to eight gallons of water per plant, per day.”

Working with the State Park Rangers, wildlife officers from the CDFW Marijuana Enforcement Team entered the grow site and immediately located and arrested two suspects, one carrying a firearm. Two additional suspects were found and arrested at the trailhead above the grow.

Officers arrested Alfredo Soto, 33, of Santa Rosa; Noe Calderon-Garcilazo, 32, of Santa Rosa; Erick Reynoso, 34, of Cotati; and Jose Reynoso, 41, of Santa Rosa. All four were charged with marijuana cultivation, committing a felony while armed with a firearm, polluting a state waterway and damaging state park plant life and geological features.

During the arrests, a chihuahua belonging to one of the suspects ran into the forest. Fearing that the dog would be lost, several officers and CDFW K-9 officer Phebe set off in pursuit. After a short search and excellent tracking by Phebe, the terrified dog, “Snake”, was found hiding in a small canyon.

In addition to the plants officers found hundreds of feet of irrigation tubing, wire fencing, fertilizers and pesticides. The suspects were tapping a spring, which was the only water source in the vicinity. The water was diverted to the illegal marijuana grow, depriving all local wildlife of its most basic need and further exacerbating the state’s severe drought.

“Snake” was safely transported to Sonoma Valley Animal Control, where he is being cared for.

CDFW to Hold Public Meetings on Proposed Regulations Changes for Mendocino Streams

Media Contacts:
Allan Renger, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (707) 725-7194
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold two public meetings to discuss a proposed change to the stream gauge that controls the low flow closure status of Mendocino Coast streams.

The meetings will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Alex Rorabaugh Ukiah Community Event Center, 1640 South State St., Ukiah, and on Wednesday, Sept. 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Fort Bragg Town Hall, 363 North Main St., Fort Bragg.

A CDFW representative will detail the proposed regulation changes. Following the short presentation, interested parties can make comments and provide input that will help shape CDFW’s final recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission. CDFW anticipates presenting the regulation change proposal at the Commission’s December meeting in Sacramento.

Mendocino Coast streams provide critical life-stage habitat for coastal Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead trout. All three of these species are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), and coho salmon is also listed under the California ESA.

CDFW is preparing regulatory changes for Title 14, Chapter 3, Article 4, section 8, Part (b), to base the flow closure status of Mendocino Coast streams on the Navarro River gauge, which is more representative of conditions in these streams than the regulated flows of the Russian River. The proposed regulatory change provides for angler opportunity and addresses fishery impact concerns that have arisen during drought conditions. During the past two winters, Mendocino Coast streams have at times remained open for fishing while salmon and steelhead were concentrated into the remaining pools by low flow conditions.

In addition to these public meetings, individuals and organizations may submit comments in writing.

Written comments can be sent by email to Allan.Renger@wildlife.ca.gov; or by mail at:

CDFW, Attn: Allan Renger
1487 Sandy Prairie Court, Ste. A
Fortuna, CA 95540

CDFW to Host North Coast Natural Resource Volunteer Academy

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking applicants for the Natural Resource Volunteer Program (NRVP) to serve in in the North Coast Enforcement District (NCED). Interested residents in, but not limited to, Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Mendocino, San Francisco and western Solano counties are strongly encouraged to apply.

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“The mission of the Natural Resources Volunteer Program is to provide conservation and enforcement education and public service while providing biological, enforcement and administrative support to CDFW staff,” said NRVP Program Coordinator Lt. Joshua Nicholas. “NRVP volunteers do not have law enforcement authority, but they are a huge help to the officers in the field and other CDFW staff members.”

CDFW is holding an NRVP training academy in Santa Rosa Jan. 12-14, with continued training to follow once a month through May 2015. Graduates of the academy become volunteers for CDFW. These positions are unpaid. Interested individuals go through a selection process, which includes an initial screening, application, interview and background check. If selected, individuals attend an 80-hour conservation course to prepare them for a monthly service commitment of at least 16 hours. After completing the academy, volunteers work with a trained volunteer mentor to implement their newly acquired skills during a six-month probationary period.

Applicants need to be over 18, should be teachable, accountable, have basic computer and writing skills and a willingness to talk about conservation principles to the public in the field and in a classroom setting. Applicants must show a desire to work well with others in a team environment to do tasks that free up time for paid CDFW staff.

Natural resource volunteer duties may include responding to human/wildlife incident calls, instructing at NRVP academies, representing CDFW at community outreach events and patrolling CDFW lands, ecological reserves and coastal and inland fishing areas.

Volunteers who are successful in the application and oral interview phase and will be required to have a Live Scan fingerprint performed and submitted.

Volunteer applicants must also have a current California driver license and produce a Department of Motor Vehicle driving report showing a good driving record for the last five years.

Please contact Lt. Joshua Nicholas at (707) 944-5562 prior to submitting an application.

Mail the completed applications by Monday, Oct. 6, 2014 to:

Natural Resource Volunteer Program
CDFW Bay Delta Region Office
7329 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558

 

Further information and an application can be found on the NRVP website at www.dfg.ca.gov/volunteer/NRVP/.

Media Contacts:
Lt. Joshua Nicholas, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (707) 944-5562
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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CDFW Asks Trout Anglers to be Mindful During Drought

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is asking trout anglers to be mindful about fishing in the state’s waters and the effects their catch can have on the populations. As the summer progresses, the effects of the current drought on California’s wildlife continue to mount. Aquatic wildlife are especially vulnerable as streamflows decrease and instream water temperatures increase, exposing cold water species such as trout to exceptionally hostile habitat conditions.

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Because of the lower water levels and accompanying higher water temperatures in many California streams, many trout populations are experiencing added stress, which can affect their growth and survival. Many of California’s wild trout anglers have adopted catch-and-release fishing as their preferred fishing practice. Careful handling of a trout after being caught with artificial lures or flies allows for the possibility of trout being caught additional times.

However, catch-and-release fishing during afternoon and early evening in streams and lakes that have elevated water temperatures may increase stress, hinder survival and increase hooking mortality for released trout.

“Please be mindful of the conditions when you are fishing,” said California’s Wild Trout Program Leader, Roger Bloom. “Afternoon and evening water temperatures may be too warm to ensure the trout being released will survive the added stress of hooking, fighting and sustained exposure to the warmer water that builds up during hot days in summer and fall.”

Some of the state’s finest trout streams have special angling regulations that encourage or require catch-and-release fishing. In waters that may experience elevated daytime water temperatures (greater than 70 degrees Fahrenheit) the best opportunity for anglers to fish would be during the early morning hours after the warm water has cooled overnight and before the heat of the day increases water temperatures.

These low water conditions and warmer water temperatures are happening across the state—from Central Valley rivers flowing below the large foothill reservoirs to mountain streams in Southern California and in both east and west slope Sierra Nevada streams.

“Enjoy California’s outstanding trout fishing and help us to keep wild trout thriving by using good judgment,” said CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief, Stafford Lehr. “Fish earlier and stop earlier in the day during these hot summer days ahead.”

Protective measures for catch-and-release fishing during the drought include:

  • Avoiding fishing during periods when water temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit (likely afternoon to late evening)
  • Playing hooked trout quickly and avoiding extensive handling of fish
  • Keeping fish fully submerged in water during the release
  • Utilizing a thermometer and checking water temperatures every 15 minutes when temperatures exceed 65 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Stopping angling when captured fish show signs of labored recovery or mortality
  • Utilizing barbless hooks to help facilitate a quick release

Although other states have used temperature triggers to close recreational fisheries, California does not currently have a legal mechanism in place to accomplish that. Historically, CDFW has requested voluntary actions by anglers to avoid catch-and-release fishing in waters like Eagle Lake and the East Walker River during periods of elevated water temperatures. At present there are local angling groups in Truckee encouraging anglers to participate in a volunteer effort to avoid fishing in the afternoon and evening.

As we move through these extreme conditions, CDFW is asking anglers to help protect our state’s native and wild trout resources. Anglers interested in researching local conditions prior to a trip should contact local tackle shops, check online fishing reports or contact a local CDFW regional office. Anglers should also consider using a hand-held or boat-mounted thermometer to assess water temperatures while fishing.

Media Contact:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Heritage and Wild Trout Program, (916) 464-6355
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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CDFW’s Invasive Species Program Announces Youth Poster Contest Winners

Poster art showing a cartoon-style man with invasive plants
First Place poster in the 6th-8th grade division. By Charin Park, age 13, of Saratoga.

The winners of the “Race to Protect Your Favorite Place” youth poster contest have been announced by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Invasive Species Program.

As part of the California Invasive Species Action Week, 34 youths from across California submitted their original artwork. Participants were asked to create original posters depicting invasive species that threaten their favorite places and how they can take action to help protect that habitat. The top three posters for each grade division were selected by members of the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee and the poster which best exemplified the contest theme was selected as the CDFW Invasive Species Program Choice Award.

Jack Carr Ritchie, 8, of Half Moon Bay, was named the winner of the Invasive Species Program Choice Award. His poster depicts his family, represented by a Viking, utilizing prescribed fire, mechanical removal and goat grazing to control bristly oxtongue (Picris echioides) in Half Moon Bay. “We want to get rid of bristly oxtongue because it takes over everywhere and its bristles can hurt people,” Carr Ritchie wrote when submitting his poster.

The top three winners of the 2014 Invasive Species Action Week youth poster contest divisions were:

Grades 2-5
First Place: Kailan Mao, 10, Borrego Springs; subject: Sahara mustard
Second Place: Mario Giannini, 10, Chico; subject: northern pike
Third Place: Ivy Sayre, 9, Chico; subject: yellow starthistle

Grades 6-8
First Place: Charin Park, 13, Saratoga; subject: biodiversity conservation
Second Place: Rayni Kirkman, 12, Whiskeytown; subject: zebra mussel
Third Place: Clara Shapiro, 11, Chico; subject: velvetleaf

Grades 9-12
First Place: Claire Kepple, 18, Quincy; subject: gold-spotted oak borer
Second Place: Trisha Tabbay, 15, Los Angeles; subject: hydrilla
Third Place: Albert Brumat, 16, Los Angeles; subject: guava fruit fly

CDFW’s Invasive Species Program staff congratulates all the participants for their excellent work, and thank the teachers, nature centers, volunteer organizations and parents who encouraged, educated and assisted the students.

All submissions have been on display in the Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center in Gold River during Invasive Species Action Week, Aug. 2-Aug. 10. To view the winning entries online, please visit the youth poster contest webpage at www.dfg.ca.gov/invasives/actionweek/postercontest.html.

For more information or to obtain poster images, please contact the Invasive Species Program at Invasives@wildlife.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
Martha Volkoff, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 651-8658
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

CDFW Wildlife Officer Chosen as Most Outstanding by Wildlife Association

Media Contacts:
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officer was selected as the most outstanding wildlife officer in the western United States by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) at their annual conference in July.

Warden Mark Imsdahl, who works in Butte County, was named Pogue-Elms Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for his exceptional performance throughout the year, his individual accomplishments and his leadership among his peers.

“We are very happy to present Warden Imsdahl with the Pogue-Elms award this year, as his dedication to the protection of California’s resources is second to none,” said WAWFA Secretary Larry L. Kruckenberg. “His individual accomplishments are truly exceptional, but even more important is his collaborative work with other wardens and fellow law enforcement agencies. His actions bring great credit to himself, CDFW and California.”

Warden Imsdahl joined CDFW in 1997. In addition to his regular game warden duties, he is a firearm instructor, a department armorer in every weapon system and a field training officer. He also teaches rural tactical operations and is a scenario evaluator at the CDFW warden academy.

“Mark’s dedication to the protection of the state’s resources is just outstanding,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Chief Mike Carion. “The department is very proud that WAFWA recognized Mark for his tremendous work ethic and drive to educate the public and enforce the resource laws of California.”

Some of Imsdahl’s 2013 accomplishments include:

• Selected to Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) pilot program, enforcing drug and public health and safety laws statewide.

• Awarded the California Medal of Valor for his courageousness during an officer-involved shooting in a marijuana grow in 2012.

• Investigated and prosecuted multiple illegal mining cases involving the Feather River along the Oroville Wildlife Area.

• Made several waterfowl, upland game and wildlife poaching cases in rural northern California counties.

• Pursued a suction dredge mining case where the suspects challenged the constitutionality of California state laws regulating mining. Because of the complete case work Warden Imsdahl did, the case was up held in court and the suspects were convicted of illegal suction dredging.

• Made two joint marijuana/poaching cases in Butte County. After making routine traffic stops, Imsdahl found large amounts of marijuana in the suspects’ trucks. During subsequent interviews, the suspects confessed to having illegally killed deer and bear. Large amounts of evidence were later recovered from the suspects’ homes, including animal carcasses, bear parts, baiting equipment, untagged deer antlers and several hundred pounds of marijuana.

WAFWA represents 23 states and Canadian provinces, spanning from Alaska to Texas and Hawaii to Saskatchewan. WAFWA is a strong advocate of the rights of states and provinces to manage fish and wildlife within their borders. It has also been a key organization in promoting the principles of sound resource management and the building of partnerships at the regional, national and international levels in order to enhance wildlife conservation efforts and the protection of associated habitats in the public interest.

CDFW to Offer Upland Game Clinic in Southern California

Media Contacts:
Lt. Dan Lehman, CDFW Advanced Hunter Education Program, (916) 358-4356

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education Program and the Hunter Education Instructor Association of Southern California are jointly sponsoring an upland game hunting clinic on Saturday, Sept. 20. The clinic will be held at Peace Valley near Lebec, one hour’s drive north of Los Angeles.

Designed for hunters of all skill levels, the clinic will be led by experienced certified California Hunter Education instructors and will include information about hunting dove, quail, chukar and pheasant. Topics to be covered include upland game bird habitat, where to hunt, hunting regulations, proper types of firearms and ammunition used for upland game hunting, hunting alone vs. hunting with others, hunting with and without a dog and hunter responsibilities and ethics. The clinic will include dog and game care demonstrations.

The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The cost is $45 for adults. Youths 16 years and younger are free, but must be accompanied by an adult.

CDFW’s Advanced Hunter Education Program will provide all necessary class equipment. Space is limited, so participants are asked to preregister online at www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/advanced/uplandgame_lebec.aspx. After registering, participants will receive an email with a map to the facility and a list of items to bring.

Peace Valley is located along Interstate 5, approximately 30 miles south of Bakersfield and 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

CDFW to Offer Waterfowl Hunting Clinic in Southern California

Media Contacts:
Lt. Dan Lehman, CDFW Advanced Hunter Education Program, (916) 358-4356

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education Program and the Hunter Education Instructor Association of Southern California are jointly sponsoring a waterfowl hunting clinic on Saturday, Sept. 27. The clinic will be held at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County.

Designed for hunters of all skill levels, the clinic will be led by experienced certified California Hunter Education instructors. Topics to be covered will include concepts of decoy placement, blind design, ballistics, calling, duck identification, dog considerations, gear, game care, cooking tips and safety.

The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $45 for adults. Youths 16 years and younger are free, but must be accompanied by an adult.

CDFW’s Advanced Hunter Education Program will provide all necessary class equipment. Space is limited, so participants are asked to preregister online at www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/advanced/waterfowl_sanjacinto.aspx. After registering, participants will receive an email with a map to the facility and a list of items to bring.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area is located approximately 8 miles east of Riverside.

Statewide Volunteer Efforts Kick Off 2014 California Invasive Species Action Week

Media Contacts:

Valerie Cook Fletcher, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 654-4267
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The inaugural California Invasive Species Action Week is scheduled Aug. 2 through Aug. 10. The goal of Action Week is to promote public awareness of invasive species issues and to encourage public participation in the fight against California’s invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is partnering with other departments, agencies, organizations and volunteer programs across California to host more than 40 educational and “action” events including invasive species removals, habitat restoration projects, quagga mussel surveys, field outings, public presentations, youth activities and a film festival. All events are open to the public, although some require registration. To locate an event near you, please view the complete Schedule of Events on the Action Week webpage at www.dfg.ca.gov/invasives/actionweek/.

The Action Week webpage provides information for individuals wishing to participate independently. For example, people can locate recipes for preparing invasive plants or animals, find out where they can purchase certified “weed-free” project materials or livestock forage, find desirable, native alternatives to certain invasive ornamental plants or learn how to monitor plants and trees for symptoms of infestations or diseases. People can also volunteer to “inspect” a local waterbody for quagga and zebra mussels and submit their findings to CDFW on its website.

Action Week will also include the announcement of the winners of the “Race to Protect Your Favorite Place” youth poster contest, in which youths, grades 2-12, submitted original posters depicting invasive species which threaten their favorite places and how they can take action to help protect that habitat.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News

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