New Rockfish Conservation Area and Waypoint Maps Coming Soon for Upcoming Recreational Groundfish Openers

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce new map-based flyers and an updated online web map will soon be available to assist recreational anglers with Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) waypoints and boundaries on the CDFW website.

These new flyers will be available in anticipation of the upcoming recreational boat-based groundfish fishery openers that will occur as follows:

  • March 1 in the Southern Management Area (Point Conception to U.S./Mexico border)
  • April 1 in the Central Management Area (Point Arena to Point Conception)
  • April 1 in the San Francisco Management Area (Pigeon Point to Point Arena)
  • May 1 in the Mendocino Area (Point Arena to near Cape Mendocino)
  • May 1 in the Northern Management Area (Near Cape Mendocino to California/Oregon state line)

RCAs are used in each of the state’s five Groundfish Management Areas (and the Cowcod Conservation Areas) to minimize contact with deeper-dwelling species of rockfish needing protection from fishing. RCAs are defined by straight lines connecting the waypoints in the order listed in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 50, Part 660, Subpart C. Recreational take of those groundfish species subject to RCA restrictions is prohibited seaward of these lines regardless of depth. However, they may be possessed aboard a vessel in transit through these closed areas with no fishing gear deployed in the water. Anglers fishing for groundfish and non-groundfish species on the same trip are encouraged to review rules on take and possession inside and outside of RCAs.

The new flyers will include an overview cover map, and a series of 38 regional maps detailing the entire California coastline, including offshore islands and banks. The maps feature the RCA waypoint coordinates and boundary lines as well as the Groundfish Management Area lines. Also included are California’s network of Marine Protected Areas, which may be closed to some or all recreational fishing. The RCA maps are overlaid on National Ocean Service nautical charts to help anglers compare them to their desired fishing location; however, they should not be used for navigation.

CDFW will also update the online Ocean Sport Fishing Interactive Web Map with the new RCA lines. The web map, when used with a smart phone, will show your current position in relation to the RCA lines and marine protected area boundaries. Locations can be clicked or tapped to show the current fishing regulations. New features will also include the ability to live-track your position and different selections for the background to better understand the boundaries.

For 2021, the new map products are especially important as changes have been made to waypoints and RCA lines in three of the Groundfish Management Areas – Southern, San Francisco and Mendocino. The changes in each area offer anglers access to deeper depths, meaning more open fishing area when the groundfish season is open. In the Southern Management Area, the RCA for 2021 increases to 100 fathoms, allowing access to reefs and areas that have not been open to fishing in two decades. Subsequent openers for the San Francisco Management Area at 50 fathoms and the Mendocino Management Area at 30 fathoms are also new opportunities for anglers to venture into deeper depths to access shelf rockfish and deeper nearshore rockfish species. In the Northern Management Area the RCA depth remains at 30 fathoms, and in the Central Management Area at 50 fathoms.

In addition to the RCA changes and the new map products, anglers should also take note of the sub-daily bag limit of five vermilion rockfish, which is also new in 2021. For more information on this change, please see our FAQ.

Take and possession of bronzespotted rockfish, cowcod and yelloweye rockfish remain prohibited statewide.

Anglers should check CDFW’s website for the current regulations before fishing for groundfish. For more detailed information on the new 2021 recreational groundfish regulations and to stay informed of in-season changes, please call the Recreational Groundfish Hotline at (831) 649-2801 or visit CDFW’s summary of recreational groundfish fishing regulations for 2021. For background information on groundfish science and management, please visit CDFW’s Marine Region Groundfish web page.

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Media Contacts:
Caroline McKnight, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 277-7683
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Dispersing Gray Wolf Travels from Oregon to the Central Sierra Nevada

Another GPS-collared gray wolf has dispersed from Oregon into California. The wolf, known as OR-93, has traveled farther south in California than the collared wolves that have preceded him.

OR-93 is a young male that dispersed from Oregon’s White River pack, southeast of Mt. Hood. He was fitted with a tracking collar by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs within the White River pack’s territory in June 2020. Like many young wolves, he subsequently left his pack in search of a new territory and/or a mate.

After arriving in Modoc County in early February 2021, he quickly passed through portions of numerous California counties before arriving this week in Alpine County, between the trans-Sierra State Highways 4 and 108. He then moved just into Mono County, putting him hundreds of miles from the Oregon state line and his natal territory. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will continue to monitor his whereabouts with the cooperation of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

OR-93 is the 16th gray wolf documented to have dispersed into California, and most of those animals have traveled from Oregon. One of those dispersing wolves, OR-54, traveled as far south as the Lake Tahoe Basin before returning north. The others have primarily traveled, and sometimes settled, in the California’s northernmost counties.

The first wolf known in California since the 1920s, OR-7, first visited in late 2011. Since then, the state has seen the formation of two packs. The Shasta Pack in Siskiyou County had five pups in 2015 before disappearing late that year. The Lassen Pack, which occupies parts of Lassen and Plumas counties, has produced pups each year from 2017 to 2020. Additionally, a new pair of wolves has recently been documented in Siskiyou County and CDFW biologists believe it is likely they will produce pups this spring.

CDFW is working to monitor and conserve California’s small wolf population and is collaborating with livestock producers and diverse stakeholders to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts. Gray wolves are currently listed as endangered pursuant to California’s Endangered Species Act (CESA). Their management in California is guided by CESA as well as CDFW’s Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California, finalized in 2016. More information is available on CDFW’s wolf webpage at: wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/mammals/gray-wolf.

CDFW encourages those who see wolves to detail their sightings on its online reporting site: wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Sighting-Report.

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

Photo of OR-93 by Austin Smith Jr., Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

March 2021 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to adhere to all safety protocols including physical distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing.

Wildlife areas, ecological reserves and other properties may be closed due to wildfire damage. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip.

1 — California Invasive Species Action Week Youth Art Contest Opens. Students in grades 2-12 are invited to submit artwork on the theme, “Be an Invasive Species Detective!” All types of media are encouraged! Submit entries electronically by May 5, 2021. Find complete information at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/invasives/action-week/poster-contest. Winners will be announced during California Invasive Species Action Week in June. Please send any questions to invasives@wildlife.ca.gov.

1 Rockfish Fishery Opens for Boat-based Anglers in the Southern Management Area, Point Conception to the Mexico border. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/groundfish-summary#south.  

2 — Cutting Green Tape Restoration Permitting Workshop, 1 to 4 p.m. CDFW will host an online permitting workshop providing an overview of restoration permitting solutions, including new coordinated Cutting Green Tape permitting strategies. The workshop will cover the Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Act, the new Restoration Management Permit and other restoration permitting options, as well as an overview of options for complying with the California Environmental Quality Act when developing restoration projects. The workshop will also present case studies to explore restoration permitting pathways for different project types. Following the restoration permitting workshop, CDFW’s Landscape Conservation Planning Program will provide an overview of how CDFW’s landscape conservation tools to preserve larger areas of higher habitat quality and to enhance habitat connectivity can be used to further restoration. No registration is required. For more information on accessing the workshop, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/grants.

4 — Free Online Cannabis Permitting Workshop, 9 to 11 a.m. CDFW and state partners are hosting a free online commercial cannabis cultivation permitting workshop for new and existing commercial cannabis cultivators, consultants and other interested parties. The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis will provide an overview of the state’s cannabis cultivation licensing program. CDFW will cover permitting, use of the online notification system (epims.wildlife.ca.gov/index.do) and how to reduce environmental impacts. The State Water Board will review the cannabis policy, permitting process and other important information. Other state agencies will also be present. To attend, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/cannabis/permitting and click on the workshop link. No registration is required.

6 — Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Environmental Science Virtual Workshop, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). The reserve presents a hands-on environmental science workshop for elementary school teachers through a combination of virtual lessons and field work. Teachers will learn about the GLOBE monitoring program, engage in inquiry-based lessons and take home new hands-on activities. For the full workshop schedule and to register, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/education-program/teacher-development.

16 California Fish and Game Commission Marine Resources Committee Meeting, time to be determined. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2021.

17 — Last Day of California Spiny Lobster Recreational and Commercial Fishing Season Statewide. Recreational lobster report card data can be reported at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/customersearch/begin. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/lobster.  

17 — Last Day of Kellet’s Whelk Recreational and Commercial Fishing Season Statewide. For more information on Kellet’s whelk, please visit marinespecies.wildlife.ca.gov/kellet%E2%80%99s-whelk.

17 Public Workshop for the Lower American River Conservancy Program’s 2021 Proposal Solicitation Notice. This will be a virtual workshop using Microsoft Teams. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

20 — Additional Spring Wild Turkey Season Opens for Hunters with Junior Hunting Licenses (extending through March 21). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

24 — Teachers on the Reserve Virtual Workshop, 3:30 to 5 p.m. A virtual introduction for K-12 teachers to the habitats and wildlife at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve. This presentation will deepen participants’ knowledge of the Slough’s ecological and cultural history and introduce virtual ways to explore the reserve. To register for this free event, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/education-program/teacher-development.  

27 — General Spring Wild Turkey Season Opens (extending through May 5). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

31 Pre-applications Due for WCB’s California Riparian Habitat Conservation Program 2021 Call for Concepts. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/riparian.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916)
322-8907

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Feb. 25, 2021 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $33.97 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 39 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public 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, landowners and the local community.

Funding for these projects comes from a combination of sources including the Habitat Conservation Fund and bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources.

Funded projects include:

  • A $400,000 grant to Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy for a cooperative project with the National Park Service and Marin County Parks to enhance historic monarch butterfly overwintering habitat and breeding sites at various sites within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Marin County Parks in Marin County.
  • A $120,000 grant to the California Waterfowl Association for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to refurbish a public access kiosk, educational signage and hunter access parking lot; and resurface an Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant trail to a viewing platform located on CDFW’s Los Banos and North Grasslands Wildlife Areas approximately five miles northeast of Los Banos in Merced County.
  • A $2 million grant to Truckee Donner Land Trust for a cooperative project with the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) to acquire in fee approximately 25 acres of land to preserve riparian and wildlife corridors and habitat linkages, and to provide wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities in the town of Truckee in Nevada County.
  • A $4.24 million grant to Mariposa County Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with the National Parks Service, UC Berkeley, California Office of Emergency Services and Yosemite Conservancy to enhance forest health and reduce hazardous fuels through selective thinning activities on approximately 2,153 acres of mixed conifer forest in Yosemite National Park and the community of Yosemite West approximately five miles west of El Portal in Mariposa County.
  • A $5 million grant to Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District for a cooperative project with Caltrans to develop designs and environmental documentation for a wildlife undercrossing and regional trail overcrossing of Highway 17 six miles south of Los Gatos in Santa Clara County.
  • An $802,000 grant to the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency to restore habitat and alter transportation infrastructure to improve the ability of wildlife to safely cross SR-152 and to improve highway safety for drivers by minimizing vehicle collisions with wildlife near Pacheco Creek eight miles north of Hollister in Santa Clara County.
  • A $1.64 million grant to the City of Sacramento to acquire in fee approximately 29 acres for the protection of wildlife habitat and to increase public access adjacent to the American River near Sutter’s Landing within the city of Sacramento in Sacramento County.
  • A $4.75 million grant to Trust for Public Land for a cooperative project with CNRA and the Ventura Land Trust to acquire in fee approximately 29 acres of riparian and floodplain habitat along the Ventura River and to provide the potential for wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities near Ventura in Ventura County.

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

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Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, Wildlife Conservation Board, (916) 445-0137
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

Monarchs at Marin overwintering site. Photo by Stephan Meyer with the Xerces Society.

Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days Offered Excellent Opportunities

Lauryn Ash, 2nd lieutenant with the California Air National Guard, participated in her first duck hunt during the Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days weekend. An 18-year U.S. Air Force Veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Ash was hosted on her hunt by the Frog Pond Duck Club in Los Banos

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) conducted its first Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days recently, providing more than 650 veterans and active duty military the opportunity to hunt on state and federal managed public hunting areas. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area near Gridley and the Wister Unit of the Imperial Valley Wildlife Area near the Salton Sea hosted the most hunters over the two days. Gray Lodge hunters averaged 5.1 waterfowl on Saturday while the Wister Unit hunters averaged 3.5. Hunting results for all CDFW managed hunting areas are posted at wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Waterfowl#877772-hunt-results.

“Each of us at CDFW express our appreciation for the work and sacrifice many of our veterans made and continue to make,” said Stafford Lehr, Deputy Director of CDFW’s Wildlife and Fisheries Division. “Opening our wildlife areas and providing veterans and active duty personnel a special waterfowl hunting opportunity was not only a pleasure, but a chance to give something back for their exceptional service to our country.” 

Once the Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days dates were set, a coordinated effort took place among state and federal agencies, private organizations and duck clubs to provide veterans and military personnel with hunting opportunity. CDFW opened more than a dozen of its most popular waterfowl areas for these special hunt days. California Waterfowl (CWA) opened its Grizzly Island Ranch, Butte Creek Ranch and other properties. CWA reached out to members and cooperating partners to provide places for 60 veterans to hunt.

Duck clubs like The Members Duck Club near the Salton Sea and Mound Farms in the Yolo Bypass welcomed veterans for the Veterans and Active Military Personnel  Waterfowl Hunting Days. Club members accompanied veterans out to the blinds, helped them find their blind in the dark and set out decoys. CWA Volunteer Veterans Hunt Coordinator Mike Peeters said, “There is tremendous community outreach among landowners to connect with veterans, to give back and provide hunting opportunity.”

Only veterans and active military personnel could apply for a hunt reservation through the CDFW waterfowl reservation drawing system for the weekend. This made it possible for many to draw their first reservation of the 2020-21 waterfowl hunting season. A reservation is extremely important to hunters since it guarantees a place to hunt. Drawing a reservation is hard. In 2020-21, a record 1.23 million hunt reservation applications were submitted. At Little Dry Creek Unit within the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, one of the most sought-after hunting areas, a record 141,160 applications were submitted. Overall, the odds of drawing a reservation for the 2020-21 season on a CDFW managed waterfowl hunting area averaged 4.05 percent.

Veterans and active duty personnel experiencing the hunt came away with several positives. First and foremost, they enjoyed a special weekend of waterfowl hunting. Those new to waterfowl hunting got a chance to experience a hunt with minimal hunter competition. Many also were able to share the experience with friends and family.

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Media Contact: 
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169