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

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.

California Receives Federal Grants to Support Land Acquisition and Conservation Planning for Endangered Species

Media Contacts:
Monica Parisi, Habitat Conservation Planning Branch, (916) 653-9767
Dale Steele, Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-0803
Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420

California has been awarded $12.7 million in federal grants to support conservation planning and acquisition of habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awards annual competitive grants from the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund to states. The grants are authorized by Section 6 of the federal Endangered Species Act. Nearly $33 million was granted to 21 states in 2012. These funds are administered under three grant programs: Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Planning Assistance, HCP Land Acquisition and Recovery Land Acquisition.

California received $4.2 million in HCP Planning Assistance Grants, which support the development of HCPs and, in California, Natural Community Conservation Plans (NCCPs). HCPs and NCCPs are large-scale, ecosystem-based plans designed to protect plants, animals and their habitats while allowing compatible and appropriate economic activity. Grants fund baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, public outreach and similar planning activities. Seven plans were awarded grants: including HCPs and NCCPs in the Bay-Delta, Northeast San Luis Obispo County, Kern Valley Floor, Butte Regional, Bakersfield Regional, Town of Apple Valley  and the city of Colton.

A total of $7 million was awarded to the state for HCP Land Acquisition Grants, which fund the purchase of land to meet the conservation objectives of approved HCPs and NCCPs. Three plans received awards: the East Contra Costa County NCCP/HCP, the Western Riverside County NCCP/HCP, and the Northwest San Diego County Multiple Habitat Conservation Plan NCCP/HCP.

California received $1.5 million in Recovery Land Acquisition Grants to acquire habitat for threatened and endangered species associated with approved recovery plans. Funded projects include:

  • Kelsey Ranch Conservation Easement, Merced County, which includes habitat for vernal pool fairy shrimp, California tiger salamander and vernal pool rare plants.
  • Arrastre Canyon, Los Angeles County, for unarmored three-spine stickleback, Southwestern willow flycatcher, California red-legged frog and arroyo toad habitat.
  • Shay Meadows Conservation Area Expansion, San Bernardino County, for habitat for unarmored three-spine stickleback and five federally-listed plants
  • Riverside County habitat for Peninsular bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, desert slender salamander and triple-ribbed milk-vetch

For more information on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grants for threatened and endangered species, including links to the complete list of awards nationwide, visit www.fws.gov/endangered/grants. More information on conservation planning in California can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/habcon/nccp.

State Offers Grants to Benefit Coastal Habitat

Media Contacts:
Alexia Retallack, OSPR Information Officer, (916) 592-3317
Bruce Joab, OSPR Grant Coordinator, (916) 322-7561

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is offering grants for projects to enhance California’s marine habitat. Coastal communities, non-profit groups and environmental agencies are encouraged to apply.

DFG’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), the California Coastal Conservancy and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation together review and select recipients for Environmental Enhancement Fund (EEF) grants.

The funds come from oil spill violation penalties in accordance with California’s Lempert-Keene-Seastr and Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act, and up to $300,000 is available per year for qualifying projects. Multi-year projects are acceptable as long as there is no more than the annual spending authority requested per year. Eligible organizations include nonprofits, cities, counties, districts, and state and federal agencies.

To qualify, an environmental enhancement project must acquire habitat for preservation or improve habitat quality and ecosystem function. In addition, it must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be located within or immediately adjacent to California marine waters.
  • Have measurable outcomes within a predetermined timeframe.
  • Be designed to acquire, restore or improve habitat or restore ecosystem function, or both, to benefit fish and wildlife.

 The Environmental Enhancement Committee, which consists of the OSPR Administrator, Executive Director of the California Coastal Conservancy and an officer from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will determine the projects to be funded.

Disbursement of the grants is contingent on the availability of funds in the EEF.

Grant applications must be received by 5 p.m.on Aug. 28, 2012. To contact the grant coordinator, e-mail eefgrant@ospr.dfg.ca.gov. For more information, visit www.dfg.ca.gov/ospr/Science/eep.aspx.

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

Media Contacts: 
Kevin Shaffer, DFG Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8841
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8911

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP) is seeking nominations to fill a new 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 DFG 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).

The timber industry representative seat has been vacated mid-term. An interim representative will serve the remainder of the term. DFG will accept nominations for this position from the general public through June 30.

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

Grant Funds Available for Oil Spill Prevention and Response Studies

Media Contacts:
Alexia Retallack, OSPR Information Officer, (916) 592-3317
Bruce Joab, OSPR Grant Coordinator, (916) 322-7561

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is currently offering grants to fund specialized scientific studies in the marine environment. Eligible studies must relate to improved oil spill prevention and response efforts, best technologies and understanding of the effects of oil on the marine environment.

DFG’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) operates the Scientific Study and Evaluation Program (SSEP), which fulfills a legislative mandate to provide funding  to any person or entity that qualifies to contract with the state for studies in the following areas:

  • Investigation and evaluation of applied spill prevention and response technologies.
  • Effects of oil and spill response on fish, wildlife, habitat and water quality.
  • Strategies for best achievable protection of wildlife and habitats.
  • Marine oil spill wildlife collection and rehabilitation.
  • Natural resource damage assessment tools (must be specifically applicable to marine oil spills).

Applications must be received by Sept. 7, 2012. Award recipients will be notified in January 2013.

The money for SSEP projects comes from the Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fund, which receives money from a per barrel oil fee. No general fund dollars are directed to this account.

The number of contracts to be awarded is not predetermined, but the total budgeted for fiscal year 2013-2014 is approximately $200,000. There is no minimum amount that must be specified.

For more information, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/ospr/science/ssep.aspx or contact Bruce Joab, SSEP Coordinator, at (916) 322-7651.

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

Media Contacts:
Patty Forbes, Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8842

Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8911

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP) is seeking nominations to fill two vacancies 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 DFG 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.  

Currently, the agriculture and public water agency representative seats are vacant. DFG will accept nominations from the general public for these positions through June 30. Appointed representatives will serve for four years, starting with the PRC meeting in the fall of 2012.

To nominate a representative for either the agriculture or public water agency seat, send a nomination letter to Patty Forbes, FRGP Coordinator, 830 S St., Sacramento, CA 95811. Nomination letters should include the resume of the candidate and verification that they represent coastal counties in which salmon and steelhead exist.

Fisheries Restoration Grant Application Period Opening Soon

Media Contacts:
Patty Forbes, DFG Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8842
Andrew Hughan, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8944

Two salmon, underwater

Salmon. DFG photo by Matt Elyash.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will release the 2012 Proposal Solicitation Notice (PSN) for the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program on Feb. 15, 2012. Applications will be accepted beginning at 8 a.m. Feb. 15, 2012 through 3 p.m. March 30, 2012.

The 2012 PSN will be posted at www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Administration/Grants/FRGP/Solicitation.asp on Feb. 15. Applications can also be submitted online at https://nrmsecure.dfg.ca.gov/frgpproposal/Default.aspx as of Feb. 15.

The online application process, which is new this year, allows applicants to cut and paste text and save the final application as a PDF, eliminating the previous requirement to mail in five paper copies and a copy on disk. Applicants will receive a confirmation e-mail after their proposal is submitted.

Applicants will also have the opportunity to attend PSN public workshops at various locations throughout the state. These workshops will review important changes in the PSN and the online application process. Workshops will be offered in Fortuna, Fort Bragg, Yreka, Corte Madera, Windsor, Belmont, Watsonville, San Luis Obispo, Ventura and Los Alamitos. A list of specific workshop locations and times can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Administration/Grants/FRGP/GrantProcess.asp.

Proposals should focus on projects that restore, enhance or protect anadromous salmonid habitat in the coastal watersheds of California or projects that lead to the restoration, enhancement, or protection of anadromous salmonid habitat.

Applicants should take care to review the 2012 PSN and note the changes from the previous year’s PSN, including:

  • A change in focus, including different watersheds and project types.
  • There are now five recovery plans from which tasks can be selected.
  • The statewide steelhead task list has been updated.
  • Off-channel design criteria have been added.

Please refer to the 2012 PSN for details about these and other changes.

Since 1981, there has been a collaborative effort with more than 600 stakeholders to restore declining anadromous salmonid habitat. Over the last 30 years, the Fisheries Restoration Grants Program has invested more $250 million and supported approximately 3,500 salmonid restoration projects. Funded projects will be consistent with DFG’s Steelhead Restoration and Management Plan for California, DFG’s Recovery Strategy for California Coho Salmon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southern California Steelhead Recovery Plan Final Version January 2012, NOAA’s Recovery Plan for Evolutionarily Significant Unit of Central California Coast Coho Salmon Public Draft Version March 2010 and NOAA’s Recovery Plan for the Southern Oregon Northern California Coast Evolutionarily Significant Unit of Coho Salmon Public Review Draft January 2012.

Ecosystem Restoration Program Grant Recipients Announced

Media Contacts:
Carol Atkins, DFG Water Branch, (916) 445-0074
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8988

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has selected 12 projects to be funded through the CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP). The 12 selected projects will receive immediate funding, while three additional projects have been designated as “reconsider if revised,” which allows the applicants to make revisions and resubmit the proposal. Together, the 15 projects total just over $18 million. A list of the projects and further details can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/ERP/grants_2010_grants_psp.asp.

The ERP is a multi-agency effort aimed at improving and increasing aquatic and terrestrial habitats and ecological function in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its tributaries.

Priority was given to projects that support the ERP Conservation Strategy and work to restore or enhance habitat in the Delta and Suisun Marsh and Bay, research projects that will test hypotheses related to conservation measures in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, and construction projects that will improve water quality in the Delta. The projects will be funded from multiple bond sources including Propositions 13, 84 and 204.

“I am particularly pleased with the diversity in the types of projects approved for this funding cycle,” said DFG Director Charlton Bonham. “They range from hands-on restoration projects that will restore critical Delta habitat, to management tools for exploring the impacts of our resource management decisions so that we can understand the potential effects of our decisions before actually implementing them.”

Bonham noted that the timing of the grant cycle is particularly fortuitous, as DFG will be able to partner on several of the projects and leverage the limited grants funding to stretch every dollar.

Questions about the proposals should be directed to Carol Atkins, DFG Staff Environmental Scientist, at catkins@dfg.ca.gov or (916) 445-0074.

State Offers Grants to Benefit Coastal Habitat

Media contact:
Carol Singleton, OSPR Information Officer, (916) 539-6124
Bruce Joab, OSPR Grant Coordinator, (916) 322-7561 

California’s oil spill agency is now seeking grant proposals for projects to enhance the state’s marine habitat. Coastal communities, nonprofit groups and environmental agencies are encouraged to apply.

The Department of Fish and Game’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), the California Coastal Conservancy, and National Fish and Wildlife Federation together will select the recipients of grant money from the Environmental Enhancement Fund (EEF) for projects that will benefit California’s marine region. These funds come from penalties collected from oil spill violations in accordance with California’s Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act.

Up to $300,000 is available per year for qualifying projects. Multi-year projects are acceptable as long as no more than the annual spending authority is requested each year. Eligible organizations include nonprofits, cities, counties, districts, and state and federal agencies.

To qualify, an environmental enhancement project must acquire habitat for preservation or improve habitat quality and ecosystem function. In addition, it must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be located within or immediately adjacent to California marine waters.
  • Have measurable outcomes within a predetermined timeframe.
  • Be designed to acquire, restore, or improve habitat or restore ecosystem function, or both, to benefit fish and wildlife.

The Environmental Enhancement Committee, which consists of the OSPR Administrator, the Executive Director of the California Coastal Conservancy and an officer from National Fish and Wildlife Federation, will select the projects to be funded.

Disbursement of the grants is contingent on the availability of funds in the EEF.

Grant applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 4, 2011. To contact the grant coordinator, email eefgrant@ospr.dfg.ca.gov. For more information, visit www.dfg.ca.gov/ospr/Science/eep.aspx.

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