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

CDFW to Host Public Meeting Regarding Pacific Halibut Management

A young blonde woman standing on a dock holds a large Pacific halibut.

CDFW scientific aid takes data from a Pacific halibut. Ed Roberts/CDFW photo

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend an informational meeting Monday, June 2 to discuss Pacific halibut management in California.

The meeting is scheduled from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the City of Eureka Wharfinger Building in the Bay Room, located at 1 Marina Way in Eureka.

The meeting will provide information on recent Pacific halibut management and science, and include a discussion on recreational fishery management measures for 2015. The public is encouraged to provide input to managers and representatives that will assist in the development of future Pacific halibut management for 2015 and beyond.

Pacific halibut fishing regulations are developed through a collaborative regulatory process involving the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the National Marine Fisheries Service, other West Coast states, the Fish and Game Commission and the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Please visit the CDFW website for more details regarding Pacific halibut management: www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pacifichalibut.asp.

Media Contacts:
Deb Wilson-Vandenberg, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2892
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191

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

CDFW to Host Public Meeting on Ocean Salmon Fisheries

The Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual ocean salmon information meeting. A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented, in addition to the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa.

The public is encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meetings in March and April.

Salmon fishing seasons are developed through a collaborative process involving the PFMC, the California Fish and Game Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Public input will help California representatives negotiate a broad range of season alternatives during the PFMC March 8-13 meeting in Sacramento, California.

The 2014 ocean salmon information meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to establish annual sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. A list of additional meetings and other opportunities for public comment is available on the ocean salmon webpage at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/salmonpreseason.asp.

The meeting agenda and handouts will be posted online as soon as they become available.

Media Contacts:
Erick Anderson, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Chinook salmon taken by an ocean sport angler near Trinidad, CA. Photo by Mark Scatchard (CDFW).

Chinook salmon taken by an ocean sport angler near Trinidad, CA. Photo by Mark Scatchard (CDFW).

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.

2014-15 California Hunting Tags Now Available to Nonprofit Groups

Public Contact:  Regina Abella, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3728
Media Contact: Dana Michaels, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-2420

A bighorn sheep ram runs up a hill in dry tundra

Bighorn sheep ram

A buck (male deer) in California foothills

A California buck

a pronghorn antelope standing in green and yellow grass

Pronghorn antelope

Tule elk in golden-brown meadow

California tule elk

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites nonprofit organizations to help wildlife by auctioning big game hunting license tags for the 2014-15 season. These tags will allow the highest bidder to hunt bighorn sheep, deer, elk and pronghorn antelope in California. Only 12 to 14 of these special fund-raising tags will be reserved for 501(c)(3) nonprofit groups to sell.

Nonprofit organizations compete for a chance to auction these special fund-raising tags, which hunters can only buy through such auctions. The possibility of winning such a rare prize attracts bidders to the groups’ fund-raising events, which helps them raise more money for their organizations.

A call for applications and the required application form are on the CDFW website at
http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/fundraising/index.html.

Applications must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Oct. 14, 2013.

Fish and Game Code, section 4334 requires the proceeds from the sale of these tags to be returned to CDFW to fund programs that benefit bighorn sheep, deer, elk and pronghorn antelope. In last year’s auctions, tags for hunting two bighorn sheep, one pronghorn antelope, two elk and eight deer raised more than $385,000 for the research and management of these wildlife species.

Organizations that have previously applied or expressed interest in future opportunities to sell these tags have been notified by e-mail. Representatives of nonprofit groups without Internet access may request a printed application package by calling the CDFW Wildlife Branch at (916) 445-4034, sending a FAX to (916) 445-4048, or writing to:

Ms. Regina Abella
CDFW Wildlife Branch
1812 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA  95811

CDFW Opens Lottery for Apprentice Wild Bird Hunts in San Luis Obispo County

Media Contacts:
Robert Stafford, CDFW Region 4, (805) 528-8670
Rocky Thompson, CDFW Region 4, (805) 594-6175
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is holding a lottery for apprentice wild bird quail hunts on the Chimineas Unit of the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve in San Luis Obispo County. These opportunities are designed for intermediate apprentice hunters who have some bird hunting experience.

The hunts will be held on Oct. 26 and 27, 2013 and guided by volunteers from the Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria Valley sportsmen’s associations. Ten permits will be drawn for each day of the hunt. All applicants will need to possess a valid junior hunting license at the time of the drawing.

All apprentice hunts are staffed by CDFW employees and trained volunteers who provide guidance and assistance to the hunters and ensure that good safety practices are followed.

Interested applicants should apply through the Game Bird Heritage link at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/GameBirdHeritageHunts/Default.aspx no later than Oct. 10. Late or incomplete applications will not be entered in the draw. Successful applicants will be notified by phone and will receive additional information, including maps and special regulations, prior to the hunt.

The Chimineas Unit of the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve is located in southeastern San Luis Obispo County. It is a 30,000-acre property owned by CDFW that was acquired for habitat protection of deer, tule elk, pronghorn antelope and a host of other wild bird species.

California Spiny Lobster Season Opens Sept. 28 with Improved Lobster Report Card System

Spiny LobstersMedia Contacts:
Kai Lampson, CDFW Marine Region, (805) 965-7216
Travis Buck, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 467-4214
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Fishing for California’s spiny lobster is one of the most highly anticipated angling activities of the year. Beginning Saturday, Sept. 28, hundreds of divers and fishermen equipped with lobster hoop nets will descend upon the ocean waters of Southern California in pursuit of this tasty crustacean. Lobsters may be taken only by hand or hoop nets.

Everyone diving or fishing for lobsters must have a valid California fishing license, a spiny lobster report card and must carry a measuring gauge to ensure their lobsters are of legal size. Daily bag and possession limits are seven lobsters per person and each lobster must measure a minimum of three and one-fourth inches measured in a straight line on the mid-line of the back. For a diagram and instructions, please see page 101 in the 2013-2014 Ocean Fishing Sport Fishing Regulations, available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/regulations.asp or wherever licenses are sold.

New this year, recreational lobster fishermen may purchase a spiny lobster report card that will run the entire fishing season, from Sept. 28, 2013 through March 19, 2014. Lobster report cards must be returned to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) by April 30, 2014, following the closure of the lobster fishing season on March 20. Fishermen may record report cards online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols anytime between the end of the lobster season until the April 30 deadline, or return report cards by mail as has been done in the past.

CDFW staff anticipates a higher return rate with the new seasonal program. Last year, just 32 percent of the 37,000 lobster report cards purchased were returned.

“We depend on the recreational lobster fishermen to provide CDFW with data to help us better manage the fishery,” said Senior Marine Biologist Kristine Barsky. “Low return rates result in increased costs for CDFW, such as conducting additional data collection to fill data gaps, managing without adequate data, increasing outreach efforts to remind anglers to return report cards, and enforcement.”

Report card holders who fail to return their 2013-2014 seasonal lobster report card by the April 30, 2014 deadline will be assessed a $20 non-return fee when they purchase a 2014-2015 lobster report card. The non-return fee can be avoided by returning lobster report cards by the deadline, or by sitting out the entire next fishing season.

“The lobster report card is the primary means of collecting data from the recreational lobster fishery,” Barsky said. “The number of report cards being purchased suggests a sizeable population of people targeting lobster in Southern California. Data collected from report cards allows CDFW to detect changes in the fishery, whether it’s a trend in harvest success or a change in gear type. This information is vital for managing California’s lobster resource.”

Fishermen who have already purchased a 2013 calendar year lobster report card can rest assured that the card is still valid through Dec. 31, 2013, and due back to CDFW by Jan. 31, 2014. If 2013 calendar year cardholders wish to continue fishing for lobster from Jan. 1 through March 19, 2014, they will need to purchase the new seasonal lobster report card. CDFW notified all 2012 and 2013 lobster report cardholders by mail with a letter and new brochure detailing the changes affecting the lobster report card. The brochure includes new protocols for reporting a lost card in order to avoid the non-return fee.

For more information about the Spiny Lobster Fishery Management planning process currently underway, or to download a copy of the new lobster report card brochure, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/lobsterfmp.

CDFW, Caltrans and Partners Highlight Safety for People and Wildlife During “Watch Out for Wildlife Week”

Media Contacts:
Mark Dinger, Caltrans Public Affairs, (916) 657-5060
Dana Michaels, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, (916) 322-2420

Two-lane highway in high sierra conifer forest

Wildlife may cross any of California’s roads; please watch out for them. Dana Michaels/CDFW photo

Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) remind motorists to remain alert while driving to improve safety for travelers and wildlife alike during “Watch Out for Wildlife (WOW) Week,” September 16-22.

“It’s important that motorists, when driving through areas frequented by deer, elk and other animals, do all they can to protect themselves as well as some of California’s greatest natural resources – our wildlife,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

The California Highway Patrol reported more than 1,800 wildlife-vehicle collisions in 2010. Approximately $1 billion in property damage is also caused by these incidents. The Defenders of Wildlife (DOW), a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting native animals and plants, reports more than 200 people are killed in collisions with deer, elk, and other wildlife each year with an estimated 1.5 million animals hit annually.

The WOW campaign is supported by Caltrans, CDFW, and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis. Caltrans and its partners work together to protect natural resources while providing safe and effective transportation.

“It’s a shame so many animals are injured and killed on our roads every year,” said Craig Stowers, CDFW’s Deer Program Coordinator. “And it’s not a pleasant experience for the drivers who hit them, either. Many deaths, injuries, and costly vehicle repairs could be avoided if drivers would just pay more attention, be aware of when animals are most active and be prepared to react safely if an animal moves onto the road.”

Caltrans and CDFW offer a few tips for motorists:

  • Be particularly alert when driving in wildlife areas.
  • If you see an animal cross the road, know that another may be following.
  • Don’t litter. It could entice animals to venture onto the road.

Examples of what Caltrans, in cooperation with our partners, is doing to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions:

U.S. Highway 101, San Luis Obispo County

U.S. Highway 101 near San Luis Obispo bisects a major wildlife corridor in the Los Padres National Forest. Caltrans installed electric mats at unfenced intersections to prevent animals from entering the roadway and ramps to allow wildlife to escape from the highway, if necessary. In recognition of this effort, the California Transportation Foundation gave Caltrans its 2013 Safety Project of the Year Award.

State Route 76, San Diego County

State Route 76 serves the North County inland areas of San Diego County. Five wildlife crossings and fencing were installed as part of the SR-76 Melrose to Mission Highway Improvement Project in 2012. A wildlife movement study is now underway to determine the effectiveness of the crossings and fencing. Data gathered from the survey will help improve wildlife fencing and crossing effectiveness.

State Route 89, Sierra County

This month, Caltrans will begin Phase II of the Kyburz Wildlife Crossing Project on State Route 89 in Sierra County.  Fencing and other barriers will be erected to prevent wildlife from accessing the highway and encourage use of the undercrossing. In addition, monitoring cameras will be installed to evaluate the effectiveness of the fencing and barriers.

CDFW Team Investigates Major Trinity County Marijuana Cultivation Sites

Sept. 6, 2013
Media Contact:
Warden Mark Michilizzi, CDFW Enforcement, (916) 651-2084

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) participated in a multiagency narcotics task force that executed 23 search warrants in Trinity County on Aug. 29. All of the warrants were served in the Trinity Pines subdivision in the town of Hayfork.

The parcels were part of a long investigation conducted by the State Marijuana Investigation Team, Bureau of Land Management and Trinity County Narcotics Task Force, relating to illegal cultivation of marijuana for sale. Eight wildlife officers and six CDFW environmental scientists inspected nine of the 23 parcels for environmental crimes.

Violations found by the CDFW team include eight unlawful water diversions, 18 incidents of state water pollution, five violations of littering state waters, and multiple violations of the Clean Water Act and Porter Cologne Water Quality Act.

Some environmental violations involved the terracing of slopes above fish streams and other unpermitted construction that negatively impact stream banks, water quality and riparian zones through loss of natural habitat and uncontrolled water runoff. Large quantities of trash and plastic fertilizer bags were discarded throughout the parcels, creating environmental and wildlife hazards.

“What we observed on these parcels contributes to the cumulative impacts we see downstream including low stream flows, nutrient loading causing algae blooms, poor water quality and ultimately fish kills,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Jane Arnold, who has been working environmental crime investigations associated with illegal marijuana growing operations for several years. “These stream impacts are undermining decades of restoration and fish recovery efforts in the Trinity River watershed, and ultimately affect its wild and scenic character.”

CDFW’s Lt. Jackie Krug added that wardens and environmental scientists have been working together closely for several years to investigate environmental crimes associated with illegal marijuana growing operations. “This detail resulted in similar types of environmental crimes that we often see on these sites,” she said.

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