All posts by DanaMichaels2013

California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Marketing Specialist

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its March 7 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $8 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 21 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 $680,000 acquisition in fee of approximately 32 acres of land as an expansion to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Battle Creek Wildlife Area for the protection of terrestrial and aquatic habitats supporting salmonid species, to enhance habitat linkages and connectivity, and to provide future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Anderson in Shasta County.
  • A $440,000 grant to CDFW for a cooperative project with California State Parks to improve the parking lot, provide an ADA-accessible viewing platform, and install a new ADA-accessible toilet at North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, eight miles north of the Oroville, in Butte County.
  • $1.3 million for two grants to The Trust for Public Land to acquire approximately 1,415 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, preservation of desert springs with year-round surface water and a riparian corridor, and provide future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Lake Isabella in Kern County.
  • Two grants for a total of $480,000 to the Transition Habitat Conservancy to acquire in fee approximately 120 acres of land from two separate owners for the protection of deer and mountain lion habitat, to maintain a migration corridor for the deer herd, and to provide future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities in the hills northwest of Portal Ridge, in Los Angeles County.
  • A $757,000 grant to the Natural Communities Coalition for a cooperative project with CDFW, Orange County Parks and California State Parks in Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park – both in Orange County. The project will construct 16 seasonal pools and restore approximately 15 acres of adjacent upland coastal sage and cactus scrub habitat that will provide breeding and foraging habitat for the western spadefoot toad.

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

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

Tax Time is the Right Time to Help California’s Endangered Wildlife

As you gather your W-2 and other income tax paperwork, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hopes you will consider helping our state’s endangered plants, animals and fish when you file your state return.

The California Individual Income Tax Form 540 gives us all an opportunity to help our native wildlife—including plants and fish—by donating to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program and the California Sea Otter Fund in the Voluntary Contributions section of your state return. Any amount you contribute will support programs that benefit California species at risk of extinction. For most people, donations are tax-deductible the following year.

We live and work in one of the most biologically and geographically diverse states in North America—one reason California is such a nice place to live. But it is also the state with the largest human population, and many of our activities are detrimental to wildlife.

California has 220 plant species and 87 animal species listed as rare, threatened or endangered. Money raised through the tax contribution program helps pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts for these plants and animals, as well as critical efforts to restore and conserve their habitat. Habitat conservation and restoration for the most vulnerable species also protects many other plants and animals, helps recover ecosystem function and enhances the outdoor experience for all Californians.

The Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program (RESP) on line 403 of yourtax return, has supported work benefiting California’s native at-risk fish, wildlife and plants since 1983. Donations to this fund by California taxpayers has enabled CDFW to obtain grant money from the federal government and collaborate with numerous stakeholders, agencies and other organizations to conserve native wildlife.

For example, with such partners we are currently:

  • investigating the impact that a deadly new fungus may have on native salamanders and ways to potentially manage infections,
  • reintroducing critically endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs to historically occupied areas,
  • assisting with development of a 10-year Recovery Action Plan for the San Francisco gartersnake and plans for future reintroductions,
  • investigating the impacts of insecticides on food resources, and breeding success of the threatened tricolored blackbird,
  • assisting with Mohave ground squirrel population monitoring at a long-term monitoring site near the Coso Range of Inyo county, and
  • coordinating development of a plan for the release of California condors into the Klamath region of northern California to help increase the breeding population and species distribution.

In 2018, the RESP voluntary donations helped provide endangered species protection for two species of plants, one bird and one mammal at risk of extinction: the tiny coast yellow leptosiphon (Leptosiphon croceus), known from only one population in San Mateo County; the beautiful Lassics lupine (Lupinus constancei), known from only two populations in the remote Lassics mountains of Humboldt and Trinity counties; the uniquely colonial tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), which is restricted almost entirely to California; and a small forest carnivore, the Humboldt marten (Martes caurina humboldtensis).

The RESP donations are also helping biologists evaluate whether two species of frogs warrant protection under the California Endangered Species Act.

Contributions to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 of your tax return are split between CDFW and the State Coastal Conservancy to benefit our Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) population. The smallest marine mammal once lived in nearshore waters all along California’s coast and in estuaries such as Humboldt, San Francisco, Tomales and Morro bays. Reliable sources estimate there once were as many as 16,000 sea otters in California before fur traders hunted them to near-extinction in the 19th century. A few survived, were discovered in the 1930s, and quickly given legal protection. They are federally listed as threatened.

The Coastal Conservancy uses most of your donations for grants supporting research and conservation actions that facilitate recovery of California’s sea otter.  Research funded through this program has investigated factors limiting population growth and opportunities for range expansion to facilitate population recovery. Conservation actions funded have reduced threats to sea otters including:

  • reducing cyanobacteria blooms affecting otters, through management of water chemistry at Pinto Lake in Watsonville,
  • reducing vehicle strikes on otters, through installation of speed humps and signage on a coastal road in Moss Landing, and
  • reducing disturbance to sea otters by marine recreationists, through the Sea Otter Savvy

CDFW uses Sea Otter Fund donations for scientific research on the causes of death in California’s sea otters to help inform management actions like those listed above.

More than 16 million Californians file state tax returns each year. If each one donated just one dollar, we could solve many problems for our wildlife and ecosystems. It doesn’t take a large donation (although we dearly appreciate those!) to make a difference. The average voluntary contribution in 2018 was $15.

CDFW biologists have achieved important recovery milestones and protected vulnerable species, thanks to California taxpayers. More information about how CDFW uses donated funds is at www.wildlife.ca.gov/tax-donation and at www.facebook.com/seaotterfundcdfw.

If someone else prepares your state tax return, please let him or her know you want to donate to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403 or the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410. If you use TurboTax, step-by-step instructions to help you find the California Contribution Funds are posted in the CDFW Document Library.

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Media Contacts:
Jeb Bjerke, CDFW Native Plants Program, (916) 651-6594
Esther Burkett, CDFW Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 531-1594
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420
Laird Henkel, CDFW Sea Otter Program, (831) 469-1726

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Nov. 15 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $3.18 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the eight 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:

  • Acceptance of a no-cost conservation easement over approximately 2,325 acres of Humbug Valley land by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), to be held with the Feather River Land Trust as co-grantee for a cooperative project with the Maidu Consortium and Pacific Gas and Electric. This project will protect the culturally significant Tàsmam Koyòm homeland of the Maidu, and provide wildlife corridors, future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities, and protection of the Yellow Creek fishery, near Chester in Plumas County. (photo above)
  • A $96,000 grant to the Mojave Desert Land Trust to acquire approximately 320 acres of land for the protection of desert habitat corridors in the Morongo Basin, near the community of Joshua Tree in San Bernardino County.

    Vast, dry desert with scattered scrub vegetation under a clear blue sky
    Desert habitat in San Bernardino County’s Morongo Basin. WCB photo
  • A $1.7 million grant to the City of Arcata and Humboldt State University for a cooperative project with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE), CDFW and the Resources Agency to acquire approximately 967 acres of land within the Jacoby Creek watershed, and the acceptance of a conservation easement over the property by CALFIRE.

    A shallow creek with rocky banks flows through lush green firest
    Jacoby Creek, near Arcata in Humboldt County. WCB photo
  • A $250,000 grant to the East Bay Regional Park District for a cooperative project with the Bureau of Reclamation to replace the fishing dock, upgrade restrooms and provide ADA access at the Channel Point area of Contra Loma Regional Park, in the City of Antioch in Contra Costa County.

    An old, boardwalk with wood railing passes through reeds in a calm lake, to a wooden fishing dock.
    Fishing dock at Channel Point in Contra Loma Regional Park, Contra Costa County. WCB photo

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

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

Be a Hero for Bats!

October 24-31 is Bat Week, an annual, international celebration of the role bats play in the natural world. Bats are truly amazing creatures. There are more than 1,400 species of bats in the world, about 20 percent of all mammal species. About two-thirds of bats are insectivorous. They consume between 50 and 100 percent of their own weight every night. They protect our food crops and timber industry—worth more than $57 billion per year—and if it weren’t for bats, farmers would surely use more chemical pesticides than they do now.

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Nationwide, the service bats provide by suppressing insect populations has been estimated worth something between $4 billion and $50 billion per year to American agriculture. CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Osborn notes, “Even the low end of that broad estimate, $4 billion, is an impressive amount. Bats are an important part of integrated pest management systems.”

Some bat species pollinate many species of plants throughout the world, including agave, the main ingredient in tequila. Even their guano (feces) is valuable. It provides rich fertilizer across the landscape and is important for cave ecosystems. Without bats, the invertebrates and microorganisms that live in caves and depend on bat guano—and the amphibians that de­pend on them—couldn’t thrive.

Bats have contributed to human well-being in other ways, too. Stroke victims have been saved by a synthesized anti-clotting enzyme found in bat spit. Research conducted on bats has also led to advancements in vaccine development, sonar, and more.

Unfortunately, population declines have caused 17 of California’s 25 native bat species to receive some level of state or federal protection.

In eastern North America, white-nose syndrome (WNS) has killed more than six million bats. It is caused by a fungus—Pseudogymno­ascus destructans—that grows in and on bats’ skin during winter hibernation and spreads quickly through bat colonies. The 2016 discovery of a bat with WNS in the State of Washington suddenly brought this unprecedented wildlife health crisis close to home.

The fungus has since been found at more sites in Washington. CDFW and its partners continue to do surveillance and response planning for the disease, which almost inevitably will be here in California before long.

Bats need our help. You can be a hero for bats by joining in the celebrations during Bat Week 2018 and beyond. Things a Bat Hero can do:

  1. Learn more about bats and teach others about how important they are;
  2. Take action to help protect bats and their habitat;
  3. If you drink tequila, keep an eye out for bat-friendly brands;
  4. Build and install a bat box on your property;
  5. Add bat-friendly plants to your garden; or
  6. Join a citizen-science bat monitoring project in your area.

There are many ideas for how you can be a Bat Hero at the Bat Week 2018 website, http://batweek.org. Look under the “Take Action” tab.

Please visit the website of Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. to review the letter he issued regarding Bat Week 2018.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Osborn, CDFW Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 324-3564
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Urge Drivers to be Alert During Watch Out for Wildlife Week

To help reduce collisions, Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife remind motorists to be on the lookout during Watch Out for Wildlife Week, which runs Sept. 16 – 22.

“With every project we build, we look for innovative ways to protect drivers and wildlife,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “That can be as simple as installing flashing warning signs or putting in specialized fencing and crossings to provide wildlife with safe passages. Drivers can make a difference too, just by staying alert.”

Watch Out for Wildlife Week coincides with the season when California’s deer and elk migrate and look for mates, and California’s roadways often cut through these animals’ migration routes. It’s vital that drivers be especially alert now through December to avoid collisions with wildlife. These crashes not only harm wildlife, but collisions with large animals can damage vehicles and cause injury and death to drivers and passengers.

“In the fall, wildlife exhibit natural behaviors that can lead them to more unpredictable movements, and nearer to humans and roadways,” said Vicky Monroe, CDFW Statewide Conflict Programs Coordinator. “Deer, bears and other wildlife are most likely to be killed or injured by vehicle collisions between September and December. Bucks fight for mates during breeding season, does travel more with their fawns, and many deer herds migrate to their winter ranges. Black bears travel farther for food as they enter a period of excessive eating and drinking to fatten up for hibernation.”

According to the California Highway Patrol, 12 people died and 383 people were injured in 2,134 collisions with wildlife on state, county, and local roadways throughout California in 2017.

Wildlife experts offer the following tips for motorists:

  • Be extra alert when driving near areas wildlife frequent, such as streams and rivers, and reduce your speed so you can react safely.
  • Pay extra attention driving during the morning and evening when wildlife are often most active.
  • If you see an animal on or near the road, know that another may be following.
  • Don’t litter. Trash odors can attract animals to roadways.
  • Pay attention to road shoulders. Look for movement or reflecting eyes. Slow down and honk your horn if you see an animal on or near the road.

The Watch Out for Wildlife campaign is supported by Caltrans, CDFW, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis.

Here are a few examples of what Caltrans, CDFW, and their partners are doing to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, improve awareness of key issues, and improve ecological sustainability:

Highway 395, Improving Wildlife Connectivity in Lassen County

Caltrans is modifying existing undercrossings that were installed on U.S. Highway 395 in Lassen County near the California-Nevada border more than 25 years ago. To improve the area for wildlife, Caltrans will remove deer gates, install escape ramps for mule deer, and extend fencing to guide animals to existing undercrossings. The project area will be monitored with wildlife cameras.

A dry streambed full of rocks next to a chain link fence alongside a rural southern Calfiornia freeway
New fencing and a former streambed with new vegetation entices wildlife to cross under US-101 in Liberty Canyon in Los Angeles County.

Highway 101, Liberty Canyon Undercrossing in Los Angeles County

The completed environmental document for the famous U.S. Highway 101 Liberty Canyon Project was signed in September 2017. Until a large overpass can be constructed, Caltrans has managed several short-term improvements in the Liberty Canyon area to entice mountain lions to cross safely underneath US-101. New fencing is designed to prevent animals from trying to cross the highway, and a former streambed south of Agoura Road has new vegetation to guide animals safely under the highway.

Highway 101, Wildlife Monitoring Cameras in Sonoma County

Caltrans is monitoring wildlife movement on U.S. Highway 101 north of Santa Rosa. Cameras have been installed on culverts that cross under the highway, and Caltrans regularly downloads images from the cameras to understand more about wildlife in the project area. Mountain lions are just one species that have been observed checking out the culverts along US-101. Camera data will be used to determine potential future improvements that will allow animals to safely cross US-101.

Highway 74, Bighorn Sheep Warning Signs in Riverside County

A yellow, diamond-shaped sign with a black bighorn sheep silhouette, and a small rectangular sign that says "Next 7 miles" in the southern California desert.
Sign warns drivers to watch for bighorn sheep on SR-74.

Efforts are underway to decrease vehicle collisions with Peninsular bighorn sheep, a federally endangered species, on a windy portion of State Route 74 above Palm Desert. In June 2018, Caltrans installed four bighorn sheep warning signs with two flashing beacons to alert drivers that sheep may be in the area. This was a coordinated effort with the Bighorn Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and CDFW.

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Media Contacts:
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420
Tamie McGowen, Caltrans Public Affairs, (916) 657-5060