Joint Release of Federal Recovery Plan for Salmon and Steelhead and Conservation Strategy for California’s Ecosystem Restoration Program

noaa cdfw logos

SACRAMENO, Calif. – NOAA Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today jointly released two plans to restore populations of salmon and steelhead in California’s Central Valley: NOAA Fisheries’ Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan and CDFW’s Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) Conservation Strategy.

The two plans are complementary in that CDFW’s conservation strategy presents a broader framework for restoring aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems throughout the Central Valley, while the federal recovery plan focuses on the recovery of endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, and threatened Central Valley steelhead.

A shared goal of both plans is to remove these species from federal and state lists of endangered and threatened species. The recovery plan provides a detailed road map for how to reach that goal. It lays out a science-based strategy for recovery and identifies the actions necessary to restore healthy salmon and steelhead populations to the Central Valley.

“Establishing clear priority watersheds, fish populations and actions is essential to achieve recovery,” said Maria Rea, NOAA Fisheries Assistant Regional Administrator for California’s Central Valley Office. “Implementation of this plan will depend on many parties working collaboratively to pool resources, expertise and programs to recover Chinook salmon and steelhead populations that are part of California’s natural heritage.“

Recovery plans required by the Endangered Species Act are guidance documents, not regulatory requirements, and their implementation depends on the voluntary cooperation of multiple stakeholders at the local, regional, state and national levels.

“The Sacramento Valley joins together a world-renowned mosaic of natural abundance: productive farmlands, meandering rivers that provide habitat and feed salmon and steelhead, wildlife refuges and managed wetlands, and cities and rural communities,” said David Guy, President of the Northern California Water Association. “The recovery plan is a positive step forward–through efficient management of the region’s water resources, water suppliers throughout the Sacramento Valley will continue to work with our conservation partners to help implement the recovery plan and improve ecological conditions in the Sacramento River for multiple species and habitat values.”

The ERP conservation strategy was developed by CDFW collaboratively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries to help guide environmental restoration and establish adaptive management to improve restoration success in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watershed. The approach of conservation strategy is to restore or mimic ecological processes and to improve aquatic and terrestrial habitats to support stable, self-sustaining populations of diverse and valuable species.

“It is critical we make strategic investments in our natural resources,” said Charlton H. Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The funding of these high-priority restoration projects is not only an example of the coordinated effort between state and federal governments, but an example of California’s continued efforts to minimize the effects of drought on fish and wildlife. Central Valley salmon and steelhead deserve nothing less.

California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.’s 2014-15 budget provided CDFW with $38 million to implement enhanced salmon monitoring, restore sensitive habitat, improve water infrastructure for wildlife refuges, expand the fisheries restoration grant program, and remove barriers for fish passage. Some of that money will be used on projects recommended by the federal recovery plan.

Dick Pool of the Golden Gate Salmon Association said, “We thank and congratulate the scientists of NOAA Fisheries for their outstanding work in developing the Central Valley Recovery Plan. GGSA and the salmon industry particularly appreciate the fact that the plan includes both short range and long range actions that can reverse the serious salmon and steelhead population declines. GGSA has identified a number of the same projects as needing priority action. We also commend the agency for its diligent efforts to engage the other fishery agencies, the water agencies and the salmon stakeholders in the process. We look forward to assisting in finding ways to get the critical projects implemented.”

The federal recovery plan and state conservation strategy work together as a blueprint of how at-risk species can be restored to sustainable levels.Restoring healthy, viable salmon and steelhead runs will preserve and enhance the commercial, recreational and cultural opportunities for future generations. As the fish populations grow and recover, so too will the economic benefits and long-term fishing opportunities for everyone.

“The Recovery Plan provides a clear framework to better coordinate and align restoration projects in the Delta, the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries to achieve greater conservation outcomes,” said Jay Ziegler, Director of External Affairs and Policy for The Nature Conservancy. “We are pleased to see the integration of multiple habitat values in the Plan including the importance of expanding lateral river movements to enhance floodplain habitat and recognition of the importance of variable flow regimes to benefit multiple species.”

The development of a recovery plan is an important part in the successful rebuilding of a species because it incorporates information from a multitude of interested parties including scientific researchers, stakeholders and the general public. Since 2007, NOAA Fisheries has held 14 public workshops, produced a draft for public comment, and met with strategic stakeholders to guide the plan’s development and ensure a comprehensive and useful document.

CDFW will be investing considerable resources in improving water conservation on public wildlife refuges in the Central Valley and protecting important salmon stocks that contribute to the state’s fishery. The department has also recently released a restoration grant solicitation which includes salmon and steelhead watersheds in the Central Valley. The solicitation can be found here. Applications are being accepted until August 12, 2014.

More on the NOAA Fisheries Recovery Plan and the CDFW Ecosystem Restoration Program

Contact:
Jim Milbury, NOAA Fisheries Communications, (562) 980-4006
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824

Emergency Water Conservation Regulations for Timber Harvesters Enacted

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Conservation Will Protect Drinking Water and Help Provide Flows for Fish During Drought

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In light of the unprecedented drought, the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection adopted emergency regulations to conserve water for fish habitat and drinking water for Californians. The regulations became effective June 19.

The new Water Drafting Emergency Regulations require approved timber harvesting plans on private timber lands and plans pending approval to disclose all water drafting operations, drafting rates and volumes, compliance with Fish and Game Code Section 1600 and potential effects on downstream aquatic habitat. The emergency regulations will be in place for 180 days.

“The severity of the drought we are experiencing makes it imperative for all of us to conserve water wherever possible,” stated Dr. J. Keith Gilless, California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection chairman. “These emergency regulations will help land owners evaluate the cumulative effects of forest management on all resource systems and values.”

Additionally, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) are drafting a joint letter to private timberland owners and foresters. The letter summarizes the new regulations and provides a reminder that approved timber harvesting plans require compliance with Fish and Game Code Section 1600. The letter will also state that timber harvesting plans must provide background on potential drought impacts to fisheries, wildlife and domestic water supplies. Licensed timber operators will be required to ensure that water is not removed in quantities harmful to domestic water supplies, fish, wildlife or other current beneficial uses of the water.

State agencies responsible for regulatory compliance of timber operations will continue to pay close attention to water diversion activities on all active timber harvesting plans and will work to ensure that water conservation is implemented to the extent feasible.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste – visit saveourH2O.org 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.

Media Contacts:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824
Janet Upton, CAL FIRE Communications, (916) 704-4287

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

Hill and canyon covered in chaparral, sage and scrub

The chaparral-sage-scrub-habitat of Puerco Canyon

View of the ocean and undeveloped coast hills from hilltop in Los Angeles County

View of the Pacific from Puerco Canyon, Los Angeles County. WCB photo

A lone tree on a rolling, grassy plain

West side of Dry Creek Ranch. WCB photo

A wood and wire fence on a plain of green grass

Northern boundary of Dry Creek Ranch, Merced County. WCB photo

At its May 22 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $22.1 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 23 funded projects will provide benefits to fish and wildlife – including some endangered species – while others will provide the public with access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, land owners and the local community. The funds for all these projects come from bond initiatives approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:

  • A $4.5 million grant to Humboldt County for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy and the Natural Resources Agency to acquire approximately 1,000 acres of land for the protection of a mixed conifer forest property, including riparian corridors, salmonid streams, coastal watershed and habitat linkages, and to expand future wildlife oriented public use opportunities.
  • A $3.2 million grant to Sanctuary Forest Land Trust to acquire a conservation easement over approximately 2,612 acres of land for the protection of a mixed conifer working forest with riparian corridors, salmonid streams, coastal watersheds and habitat linkages near the community of Whitehorn in Humboldt and Mendocino counties.
  • A $1.7 million grant to the National Audubon Society for a cooperative project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed to enhance and restore approximately 260 acres of the Sonoma Creek Marsh on San Pablo Bay, within the boundary of the USFWS’s San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, 15 miles southeast of the city of Sonoma in Sonoma County.
  • A $531,000 grant to the Santa Cruz Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program, the USFWS, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the California Conservation Corps, the Coastal Conservancy and others to restore approximately 10 acres of riparian and wetland habitat in areas critical to special status amphibian and fish species on four coastal watersheds in Santa Cruz County.
  • Accepted a USFWS Recovery Land Acquisition grant and approved a sub-grant of these federal funds to the California Rangeland Trust. Approved a WCB grant to the California Rangeland Trust for a cooperative project with the U.S Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Bureau of Reclamation to acquire a conservation easement over approximately 4,417 acres of land for the protection of grassland and associated vernal pools, blue oak woodland and riparian habitats to promote recovery of threatened and endangered species near the community of Snelling in Merced County.
  • A $4.5 million grant to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy and the County of Los Angeles to acquire approximately 700 acres of land for the protection of chaparral, coastal sage scrub, scrub-oak chaparral, native grasslands and oak woodland-savannah habitat and to enhance wildlife linkages, watershed protection and provide future wildlife oriented public use opportunities, located in the central Santa Monica Mountains, near the community of Malibu, in Los Angeles County.
  • Accepted a USFWS Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition grant of $786,750 and approved a sub-grant of these federal funds to the Friends of the Palm Spring Mountains (FOPSM). Approved a Wildlife Conservation Board grant to FOPSM, for a cooperative project with the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy to acquire approximately 353 acres of high desert, desert alluvial fan and habitat linkages to promote recovery of the Peninsular bighorn sheep and other threatened and endangered species covered under the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, along the lower elevations of the San Jacinto mountains near the northwest border of the city of Palm Springs, in Riverside County.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

New Website Highlights Potential Restoration Alternatives at Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, State Coastal Conservancy and the Annenberg Foundation today announced a joint website to provide an initial outline of potential restoration alternatives at Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve on the Los Angeles County coast. The website builds on a prior site, and also features scientific studies, history of meetings and information about the wetlands.

The website, ballonarestoration.org, provides an early overview of proposed alternatives that will be presented in a draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) that is anticipated to be released before the end of 2014. Upon release, interested parties and members of the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the EIR/EIS.

Because this website precedes the EIR/EIS, the proposed alternatives are subject to change. The state and private partners created the site to provide as much information as possible to interested parties.

In January 2013, the Annenberg Foundation entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the aforementioned state partners that proposes to enhance the state’s existing goal of establishing Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve as a thriving wildlife habitat and an outdoor education destination for local communities.

Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Nominations Now Being Accepted for Fisheries Restoration Grant Program Peer Review Committee

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP) is seeking nominations to fill a vacancy on the FRGP Peer Review Committee (PRC).

Pursuant to the Public Resources Code, section 6217, members of the PRC are appointed by the Director of CDFW to provide advice, oversight and recommendations regarding grant funding priorities for the FRGP.  Seven of the PRC’s 14 representatives are recommended by the California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout. The remaining seven represent the following interests: one representative from the agriculture industry, one representative from the timber industry, one representative of public water agency interests, one academic or research scientist with expertise in anadromous fisheries restoration, and three county supervisors from coastal counties (the county supervisors are recommended by the California State Association of Counties).  Because the FRGP only awards grants to applicants within coastal counties of California, all representatives must reside in or represent interests in coastal counties in which salmon and steelhead exist.

CDFW will accept nominations from the general public for the Academic and Research position through April 15, 2014.  The appointed Academic and Research representative will serve until December 2017, starting with the PRC meeting in the fall of 2014.

To nominate a representative for the Academic and Research seat, please send a nomination letter to Patty Forbes, FRGP Coordinator, 830 S Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. Nomination letters should include a resume of the candidate and verification that they represent coastal counties in which salmon and steelhead exist.

Contact:
Patty Forbes, Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8842
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Wildlife Conservation Board funds environmental improvement and acquisition projects

lush, green riparian habitat on a far northern California creek

Strawberry Creek in Humboldt County. WCB photo

dry-looking pebble plain habitat with green forest in background

Sawmill Pebble Plain in San Bernardino County. WCB photo

large northern California cree with both grassy and rocky shoreline surrounded by trees and brush

Cow Creek Conservation Area near Redding. WCB photo

Marshy wetland with yellow wildflowers near Richmond

Wetland habitat in Breuner Marsh, at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. WCB photo

Dry, rolling hill with few trees behind flat land with mostly dry grass.

Blue Oak Ranch Reserve in Santa Clara County. WCB photo

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

At its Feb. 20 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $14 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 16 funded projects will provide benefits to fish and wildlife – including some endangered species – while others will provide the public with access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, land owners and the local community. The funds for all these projects come from bond initiatives approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:

  • A $253,000 grant to the Pacific Coast Fish, Wildlife and Wetlands Association for a cooperative project with Redwood National Park and the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program to restore approximately 1,600 linear feet of riparian habitat for Coho salmon and steelhead trout on Strawberry Creek, approximately 1.5 miles west of Orick in Humboldt County.
  • A $650,000 grant to the Shasta Land Trust (SLT) to acquire a conservation easement over approximately 600 acres of land to protect rangeland, riparian, floodplain and riverine habitat and provide habitat connectivity with the adjoining protected lands referred to as the Cow Creek Conservation Area, north of State Highway 44, about 10 miles east of the City of Redding in Shasta County.
  • A $1 million grant to the East Bay Regional Park District for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy and others to restore approximately 164 acres of wetland habitat in Breuner Marsh, at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, five miles north of the city of Richmond in Contra Costa County.
  • A $4.2 million grant to the Regents of the University of California to construct new staff housing and storage facilities, enhance a campground, improve existing structures for visiting researchers and upgrade roads and other infrastructure at the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, approximately 9 miles east of the City of San Jose in Santa Clara County.
  • A $2 million grant to the San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust to acquire approximately  166 acres of very rare and endangered pebble plain habitat that supports a wide variety of endemic plant species, just south of Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains, in San Bernardino County.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

CDFW Celebrates 10 Years of Landmark Environmental Law

Media Contacts:
Dr. Brenda Johnson, Habitat Conservation Planning, (916) 653-0835
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

rolling hills and sparse oak woodland behind a field of poppies and native grasses

Hidden Falls Park near Auburn, CA. Loren Clark photo.

vernal pool in a green and yellow grassland under a cloudy sky

Vernal pool near Sheridan, CA. Loren Clark photo

Highway interchange under construction

Palm Drive Interchange, a NCCP project in southern California.

Tall, red-flowering shrub in dry rocky landscape and hills.

Petroglyph Trail in April. Bill Halvert photo

The Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) Act of 2003 is 10

Small reservoir with Mt. Diablo in a beautiful orange sunrise

Marsh Creek Reservoir in east Contra Costa County. Kristin McCleary photo

years old and the organizations that make it work commend its value and effectiveness. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and its partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and members of the California Habitat Conservation Planning Coalition, celebrate what they have accomplished since the Legislature passed the NCCP Act of 2003.

This environmental act is the only state law in the nation designed to actively protect ecosystems using a science-based, stakeholder-driven approach. Natural Community Conservation Plans balance the conservation and long-term management of diverse plant and animal species with compatible, economically beneficial land uses.

“These plans create ‘win-win’ situations by permanently protecting vast regions of habitat while streamlining the permitting process for carefully sited development and infrastructure projects,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “They also ensure the process is open to public input.”

To date, nine large, regional plans have been approved through the CDFW NCCP Program. Together they will permanently protect more than two million acres of wildlife habitat. More than one million acres have already been protected in reserves. Seventeen other plans that will protect millions of additional acres of habitat are now being prepared. These 26 plans specifically identify more than 700 species of plants and animals, and many unique natural communities, for conservation in perpetuity. CDFW has helped direct more than $254 million in federal funds to NCCP reserve land acquisition and more than $27 million for plan preparation. California has also provided nearly $12 million to help local organizations and agencies implement approved plans.

Information on the success of NCCPs in California and regional habitat conservation planning in general can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/habcon/nccp and www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/hcp-overview.html.

Join California Department of Fish and Wildlife Natural Resource Volunteer Program in Sacramento

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is recruiting applicants for the Natural Resource Volunteer Program (NRVP) to serve in the Sacramento area. The NRVP provides conservation and enforcement education through public service while providing biological, enforcement and administrative staff support to CDFW.

The next training academy will be held in Sacramento during September 2013.

Graduates will become unpaid, but very fulfilled volunteers for CDFW.

NRVP applicants go through a selection process which includes an initial screening and background check. Selected participants will attend a three-day training academy.  An additional eight-hour training day each month, through the course of a seven-month probationary period, will prepare them for a monthly service commitment of at least 16 hours. Volunteers will work with a trained mentor implementing their newly acquired skills.

Applicants should be teachable, accountable, have basic computer and writing skills and a willingness to talk about conservation principles to the public both in the field and in a class room 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.

CDFW Natural Resource Volunteers have no law enforcement authority and are trained to be educational ambassadors for CDFW, donating their time in a variety of areas including responding to human/wildlife incident calls, instructing at NRVP academies, representing CDFW at community outreach events, disseminating useful information to the public, and patrolling CDFW lands, ecological reserves, and inland and coastal fishing areas.

Application deadline is August 19, 2013. Applicants should be submitted as soon as possible. Please contact Lt. Steven Stiehr or Warden Brian Moore at (916) 358-1948 prior to submitting an application.

Media Contact:
Warden Brian Moore, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 358-1948
Lt. Steven Stiehr, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 358-1948

Paiute cutthroat trout restoration begins this summer

salmon-colored trout in gravel-bottomed creek

Threatened Paiute Cutthroat Trout

Media Contacts:
Christie Kalkowski, U.S. Forest Service, (775) 355-5311
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420
Jeanne Stafford, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (775) 861-6336

A project to restore one of the rarest trout species in America to a remote stream in Alpine County will begin this August. The Paiute Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project is a joint effort by the U.S. Forest Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The agencies are working together to restore this rare species to 11 stream miles of Silver King Creek and three of its tributaries in the Carson Iceberg Wilderness. The Paiute cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii seleniris) was listed as endangered in 1967. It was reclassified as threatened in 1975.

The objective of this project is to recover and reestablish Paiute cutthroat trout in its small historic range and to prevent additional hybridization with other trout species. This is a critical step to conserving the species and restoring it to a level that will allow it to be removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Learn more about the Paiute cutthroat trout, this project, and read associated environmental documents at www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Resources/WildTrout/WT_Paiute/WT_PaiuteCutRestor.asp

CDFW Updates the State Wildlife Action Plan to Identify and Protect At-Risk Species

Contact:
Armand Gonzales, SWAP Project Lead, (916) 616-0691
Carol Singleton, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8962

Kit Fox

Kit Fox

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has launched a monthly newsletter to inform the public about the update to the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP).

California is home to 197 mammal species, 433 species of birds, 84 reptiles, 67 species of freshwater fish and 5,047 native plants. It has more species than any other state. However, population growth, increased development, water management conflicts, invasive species, and climate change are putting tremendous stress on these natural resources. Compared to other states, California has the largest number of species at risk of becoming endangered, and it ranks second in the number of endangered species that live here, exceeded only by Hawaii.

CDFW updates its State Wildlife Action Plan every 10 years to help preserve the state’s valuable fish and wildlife resources. The first plan was issued in 2005 and the next update is due in 2015. The plan identifies the species of greatest conservation need and prescribes measures to best protect them from environmental stresses and human induced threats. It focuses on a regional approach to conservation, one that takes into consideration the complex web of life inherent to every unique ecosystem.

In order to update the plan, scientists from across the state are gathering and analyzing data to develop effective, long-term conservation strategies.

“This is a massive undertaking,” said Armand Gonzales, project lead for SWAP. “It requires coordinating with a broad range of stakeholders, from biologists to land-use managers, private landowners and tribes. We are trustees of the state’s wildlife resources and it is our responsibility to keep the public informed about what we are doing to protect California’s valuable natural resources.”

The SWAP monthly newsletter, launched this month, will provide the public with highlights and milestones regarding the SWAP update process. The CDFW is also planning a dozen public scoping meetings to be held throughout the state later this year. The first edition of the newsletter contains information on what the SWAP is, the update process, the update timeline and public participation opportunities. In order to sign up to receive the SWAP monthly newsletter, please subscribe here.

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