CDFW to Release a Half-Million Steelhead into Feather River

Hatchery trucks from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today began the weeklong process of stocking a half million young steelhead smolts on the Feather River near Yuba City. The 125,000 fish released Monday were the first of the fish reared from eggs rescued from the Feather River Fish Hatchery during last year’s Feather River spillway failure. Plants will continue through Thursday near Yuba City.

More than a million steelhead eggs were endangered in February 2017 when silt and debris overwhelmed the hatchery water system following the spillway failure. With less than 72 hours to complete fixes on aeration and filtration systems CDFW engineers went to work to save the steelhead eggs stacked in hundreds of trays at the hatchery.

Feather River steelhead are on the state and federal list of species of concern, and the hatchery is key to maintaining the viable run in the Central Valley. The eggs in the hatchery during the Feather River spillway event represented a year-age class of steelhead.

Engineers redesigned the water in-flow system using city water for the incubating steelhead. They also brought in massive six-foot-tall charcoal filters to purify the city water and reconfigured the aeration system. These alterations made this week’s release of more than 500,000 steelhead possible.

“CDFW engineers did something that had never been done successfully before on a massive scale,” said Feather River Fish Hatchery Manager Anna Kastner. “The eggs were in a fragile state of incubation and could not be moved, so innovation was the only option. The use of city water for incubation paid off.”

CDFW Engineers George Heise and Beth Lawson, working with hatchery personnel, pathologists and biologists, conferred on the requirements of redesigning the system.  Once agreed upon they went to work.

“Our options were limited and something had to be implemented immediately. The team told us what they needed and we went to work making it happen,” Heise said.

Thousands of anglers fish these waters annually, significatnly boosting the local economy. Finding an emergency fix for the potential catastrophic loss of a year of hatchery production of steelhead was critical – recreationally, economically and biologically.

John Church, a local fisherman from Yuba City, is one of the many anglers who value and rely on steelhead fishing opportunities on the Feather River. “It’s really important to me and family … I take my daughters to the Feather River for the chance to catch a steelhead each year,” he said. “It is what we go there for.”

Media Contacts:
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

CDFW to Host Public Meeting on Ocean Salmon Fisheries 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual Salmon Information Meeting to learn more about the state of California’s salmon fishery. The meeting will be held Thursday, March 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa (95403).

A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented along with the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries.

Anglers are 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, state, federal and tribal agencies, and west coast stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation. Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 8-14 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif. Final adoption of ocean salmon season regulations will occur during the April 5-11 PFMC meeting in Portland, Ore.

The 2018 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 CDFW’s ocean salmon web page, www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon/preseason.

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

Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

CDFW Postpones Lands Pass Implementation on Specific Properties

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has suspended the lands pass requirement at some state locations in response to a request from other state agencies.

The lands pass requirement is suspended indefinitely at the following CDFW properties

  • Batiquitos Lagoon Ecological Reserve
  • Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve
  • Buena Vista Lagoon Ecological Reserve
  • Crescent City Marsh Wildlife Area
  • Eel River Wildlife Area
  • Elk Creek Wetlands Wildlife Area
  • Elk River Wildlife Area
  • Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve
  • Fay Slough Wildlife Area
  • Grizzly Island Wildlife Area
  • Honey Lake Wildlife Area
  • Imperial Wildlife Area
  • Lake Earl Wildlife Area
  • Mad River Slough Wildlife Area
  • Mendota Wildlife Area
  • Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area (Green Island Unit)
  • North Grasslands Wildlife Area
  • San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve
  • Tehama Wildlife Area
  • Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve
  • Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

Lands pass implementation has also been postponed at the Cache Creek Wildlife Area, in Lake County, during an adjustment of management responsibilities between CDFW and federal government.

The following CDFW areas will continue implementing the lands pass requirement:

  • Ash Creek Wildlife Area
  • Bass Hill Wildlife Area
  • Battle Creek Wildlife Area
  • Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve
  • Butte Valley Wildlife Area
  • Canebrake Ecological Reserve
  • Gray Lodge Wildlife Area
  • Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area
  • Hope Valley Wildlife Area
  • Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area
  • Los Banos Wildlife Area
  • Mouth of Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area
  • North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve
  • San Felipe Valley Wildlife Area
  • San Jacinto Wildlife Area
  • Shasta Valley Wildlife Area
  • Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area
  • Volta Wildlife Area
  • Willow Creek Wildlife Area
  • Woodbridge Ecological Reserve

CDFW’s Lands Pass Program began in 1988 as a way to broaden the funding base beyond hunters and anglers to pay for conservation and habitat improvement on some of the state’s most popular and frequently visited wildlife areas and ecological reserves. In 2012, the California Legislature directed CDFW to expand the program to more properties as a way for all visitors to contribute to the management of the places they enjoy and appreciate.

CDFW is working to gather information and determine the next steps in resolving the questions and concerns.

For more information on the CDFW lands pass or to purchase a lands pass, please go to www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/lands-pass.

Anyone with a valid California fishing or hunting license may use any of the lands areas without paying the additional fees, however you must have your license in your possession.

Media Contacts:
Julie Horenstein, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 324-3772
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program Evaluation Report Now Available

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released the Evaluation Report for the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program (OREHP).

The report concludes that while the OREHP has significantly contributed to the scientific understanding of marine enhancement science, it has not substantially increased the abundance of legal-sized White Seabass, resulting in less than one percent contribution to recreational and commercial fisheries catches. The information generated by the program, to date, can be used as a learning experience for enhancement of wild populations, whether focusing on White Seabass or other species. CDFW will use this information along with public input to guide decisions regarding the future of the OREHP.

The OREHP was established by the California Legislature in 1983 to conduct research into the restoration and enhancement of marine finfish species populations important to California for their sport and commercial fishing value. The program, the longest-running experimental marine fish stock enhancement program in the United States, is managed by CDFW with the assistance of the Ocean Resources Enhancement Advisory Panel. The OREHP includes a marine fish hatchery operated by Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI), and 10 growout pens operated by volunteer organizations throughout Southern California. White Seabass are raised at the hatchery and transported to the growout pens for their eventual release along the coast.

In 2015, CDFW contracted California Sea Grant (CASG) to coordinate the first formal, comprehensive review of the program’s progress toward achieving its goals and objectives. With guidance from CDFW and HSWRI, CASG recommended a science advisory committee comprised of nine scientists from around the country to evaluate the program. The committee, appointed by CDFW Director, Charlton H. Bonham, included members with expertise in a wide variety of disciplines, including aquaculture, fish pathology, population dynamics, genetics and water quality.

During the two-year review process, the committee assessed the hatchery’s functionality and efficiency, considered alternative hatchery uses, assessed environmental impacts, documented scientific accomplishments, assessed economic costs and benefits, and evaluated the extent to which the OREHP has succeeded in enhancing wild White Seabass stocks. The report details the committee’s evaluation process, including development of scientific review criteria, summary and synthesis of all available OREHP data, and identification of key findings, gaps in information, and recommendations for better meeting the program’s objectives and goals.

CDFW will conduct public scoping meetings in Southern California to receive comments on the evaluation and discuss potential next steps for the OREHP in early 2018.

Media Contacts:
Valerie Taylor, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 342-7170
Kathryn Johnson, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 342-7179
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Mojave River Hatchery raceway

Mojave River Hatchery in San Bernardino County Reopens after Major Renovation

The Mojave River Hatchery in Victorville, northern San Bernardino County, has reopened after an extensive and much needed overhaul to promote more efficient trout production for anglers in Southern California.

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invested several hundred thousand dollars on the project, including pressure washing and disinfecting 6,000 linear feet of fish rearing ponds and associated plumbing, coating all fish rearing surfaces with Food and Drug Administration-approved epoxy coating to improve fish culture conditions and installing new manifolds for the water recirculation loop to improve efficiency.

The modernization of the Mojave Hatchery will greatly benefit Southern California trout anglers. Fish production at Mojave River Hatchery has already resumed and healthy juvenile fish have been brought in from other CDFW hatcheries for additional growth at the renovated facility. The first batch of catchable-sized fish from Mojave Hatchery are anticipated in late February, with others to follow.

Millions of fertile trout eggs are also being shipped to Mojave for incubation and rearing into catchable fish for stocking later in 2018, and CDFW is continuing to stock catchable fish in Southern California from sister hatcheries farther north.

The last major renovations to Mojave River Hatchery took place more than 45 years ago.

In addition to the raceway renovation and improvements, contractors upgraded the plumbing from the hatchery building, refurbished the well pump motors, and excavated the two settling ponds and installed new, UV-resistant rubber lining.

Mojave River Hatchery is one of 13 state-run inland trout hatcheries that provide millions of additional trout fishing opportunities each year for California’s angling public.

Media Contacts:
Dr. Mark Clifford, CDFW Trout and Salmon Hatcheries Program, (916) 764-2526
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944