All posts by DanaMichaels2013

California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Marketing Specialist

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

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its May 24 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $13 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 12 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:

  • $186,250 in two grants to the Mojave Desert Land Trust to acquire approximately 367 acres of land from two separate owners for the protection of desert habitat corridors in the Morongo Basin, near the community of Joshua Tree in San Bernardino County.
  • A $600,000 grant to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for a cooperative project with the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to implement a large scale Nutria eradication project in riparian corridors and associated wetland habitats located in various Central Valley counties of the San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
  • A $610,000 grant to the Pacific Forest Trust for a cooperative project with the California Department of Transportation and CDFW to acquire a forest conservation easement over approximately 1,346 acres of land for protection of working forest lands, forest reserve areas, watersheds, fisheries and habitat linkages near the town of McCloud in Siskiyou County.
  • A $2,440,000 in-fee acquisition of approximately 5,849 acres of land by CDFW for the protection of critical cold water aquatic habitat for a variety of anadromous fish species, including the state and federally listed coho salmon, the protection of migration corridors vital to many plant, bird and mammal species, and to provide ongoing dryland grazing and future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Montague in Siskiyou County.
  • A $4.4 million grant to The Nature Conservancy for a cooperative project with CalFire, the State Coastal Conservancy and the California Natural Resources Agency to acquire a conservation easement on approximately 23,681 acres of native forest habitats, including redwood, Douglas fir and Grand fir in the upland zones, and mature red alder forests within the riparian zone along the Ten Mile River. The easement is needed to preserve wildlife area linkages, provide habitat to numerous wildlife species, and reduce soil erosion and sustain water quality near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.
  • A $950,000 grant to the National Forest Foundation for a cooperative project with U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to thin approximately 230 acres of forest, five miles southwest of Tahoe City in Placer County.
  • A $511,000 grant to the California Waterfowl Association for a cooperative project with the City of Woodland and Explorit to enhance and restore approximately 20 acres of wetlands at the Woodland Regional Park, approximately five miles southeast of the City of Woodland.
  • A $1.6 million grant to the Trust for Public Land for a cooperative project with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to acquire approximately 51 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, riparian and floodplain habitat along the Santa Clara River and to provide the potential for wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Acton in Los Angeles County.

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

Californians Help Endangered Species on State Tax Returns

Income tax returns are due April 16, so there’s still time to make a Voluntary Tax Contribution or two that benefit wildlife on your California Form 540. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) needs your help to save the more than 300 listed threatened and endangered plant and animal species that are native to our state.

The Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program continues to benefit California’s native at-risk fish, wildlife and plants, thanks to the generosity of California taxpayers. Donations to this fund have enabled CDFW to obtain matching funds from the federal government and collaborate with numerous stakeholders and organizations—including other government agencies—to conserve native wildlife and restore habitat. As federal funds decrease, public support becomes ever more crucial to keep recovery work on track.

Your voluntary contributions have enabled CDFW botanists to review the status of Lassics lupine and coast yellow leptosiphon, which are both candidate species for state listing. We recently leveraged your tax donation funds to obtain a second federal grant to conduct important monitoring of more threatened and endangered plant species.

Great gray owl, Mohave ground squirrel, mountain yellow-legged frog, willow flycatcher, desert pupfish, and giant garter snake are also among the species CDFW’s wildlife biologists are working with to ensure they survive well into the future, thanks to this endangered species fund.

In the marine environment, Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) benefit from donations to the California Sea Otter Fund. There were once as many as 16,000 sea otters along California’s coast. The 2017 population survey counted fewer than 3,000 individuals—a slight decrease from the 2016 count.

Your donations to the Sea Otter Fund on line 410 support research on the causes of mortality in this species and other projects to help the sea otter population recover. The Southern sea otter is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and fully protected by the State of California.

CDFW scientists have achieved important recovery milestones and protected many vulnerable species, with support from California taxpayers. There is no upper limit to donations and any amount is appreciated. Please give what you can, and remember, their future is in our hands, and your contributions can help save them.  More information about how CDFW uses these Voluntary Tax Contribution Funds is available 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 and/or California Sea Otter Fund on line 410. If you have trouble finding California Contribution Funds in TurboTax, see these step-by-step instructions.

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