At its Feb. 23 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $10 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California, including the Salton Sea. Some of the 16 funded 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. The state funds for all these projects come from bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Funded projects include:
A $900,000 grant to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to construct a boat launch facility on Trout Lake, renovate the entrance road and replace a bridge over the Little Shasta River on CDFW’s Shasta Valley Wildlife Area, approximately eight miles east of the City of Yreka in Siskiyou County.
A $1.4 million grant to the County of Yolo to re-construct the boat launch facility on the CDFW Knights Landing Public Access property, in Knights Landing in Yolo County.
A $2.4 million grant to the California Rangeland Trust for a cooperative project with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to acquire conservation easements over approximately 12,710 acres of land to protect open space and a natural landscape consisting of native oak woodlands, chaparral, annual grasslands and watersheds that are beneficial to Tule elk and other wildlife, and promote the preservation of habitat linkages and corridors between existing protected lands near the community of Pozo, in San Luis Obispo County.
A $1 million grant to the City of Santa Clarita to acquire fee title to approximately 200 acres of land to protect upland coastal scrub, oak woodland, coastal watersheds and important habitat linkages, south of Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County.
A $426,000 grant to Lakeside’s River Park Conservancy for a cooperative project with Department of Water Resources to restore approximately 97 acres of riparian habitat for threatened and endangered species. The property is on Endangered Habitats Conservancy property along the San Diego River in the El Monte Valley, two miles east of Lakeside in San Diego County.
Extinction is forever, but you and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) can join forces to prevent it. Help save California’s native plant and animal species when you file your state income tax return by making a voluntary contribution to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program (RESPP) and/or the California Sea Otter Fund.
Just enter any dollar amount you wish on line 403 for rare and endangered species and on line 410 for southern sea otters. Money donated by California’s taxpayers supports programs that benefit these at-risk species.
“Taxpayers’ donations make more of a positive difference than one might think,” CDFW Wildlife Branch Chief T.O. Smith said. “Voluntary contributions also help CDFW acquire federal matching funds, increasing the actions we can take for threatened and endangered species and their habitat.”
California has 219 species of plants and 83 species of animals listed as rare, threatened or endangered. Money raised through the tax donation program helps pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts for these plants and animals, and critical efforts to restore and conserve their habitat. Endangered species face many different threats, such as the unprecedented tree die-off occurring in the Sierra Nevada mountains due to a combination of past forest management practices, warming climate, severe drought and bark beetles capitalizing on the dying trees.
Past donations to the RESPP have enabled biologists to analyze data on the Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) – North America’s most highly colonial land bird – to assess factors that may be affecting the species’ ability to survive and reproduce. Ninety-nine percent of the world’s Tricolored blackbird population lives within the State of California and statewide surveys have revealed that the species has declined by more than 60 percent in the past decade.
CDFW has been working with multiple stakeholders to study the current distribution and status of the Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas) – a highly aquatic threatened species – and to improve habitat suitability and stability in areas hardest hit by the drought.
Staff have participated in the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) Science Advisory Committee’s efforts to recover the threatened species, beginning with tackling the issue of how to reduce their hybridization with non-native tiger salamanders.
CDFW is in the final stages of completing a conservation strategy for the state-listed Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis), which will guide conservation and research projects to help ensure recovery of the species.
With the assistance of biologists from other agencies, CDFW biologists have been monitoring endangered Desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius) populations and water quality in natural and artificial habitats. Pupfish have been rescued from natural habitats that have dried during summer months and have been relocated to other areas. Recovery actions have included identification of habitat in need of restoration.
RESPP funds supported the review of Livermore tarplant (Deinandra bacigalupii), which informed the Fish and Game Commission’s decision to protect the species under the California Endangered Species Act. Funds were also used to monitor several endangered plant species, including the critically endangered Slender-petaled mustard (Thelypodium stenopetalum), found only near Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains.
The past five drought years have put endangered species at even greater risk as rivers and creeks have been impacted and seasonal and some permanent aquatic habitats dried up. CDFW has documented extremely low numbers and/or reproductive rates for winter-run Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus), Mohave ground squirrel, Giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens), Giant garter snake, Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum; drought rescue story on our website), California tiger salamander and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae), among others.
There is no upper limit to voluntary contributions; any dollar amount is welcome. These plants and animals are part of our heritage and need your support to survive and thrive.
Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund are split between CDFW and the State Coastal Conservancy. CDFW’s half supports scientific research on the causes of mortality in sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis). In addition to working on a large analysis of 15 years of mortality data, CDFW scientists are conducting research on little-known viruses, parasites and biotoxins that may be harming sea otters. Through a better understanding of the causes of mortality, it may be possible to work more effectively to recover the sea otter population here. 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.
“This voluntary contribution program provides important funding for understanding sea otter health and implementing programs to help recover the Southern sea otter population,” said CDFW Sea Otter Program Manager Laird Henkel. “Our team and collaborators are currently in the final stages of summarizing 15 years of sea otter post-mortem investigations, largely supported by this tax check-off program. We’re excited that we’ll have this information to share later this year.”
CDFW is also collaborating with Friends of the Sea Otter and others on the ‘Sea Otter Savvy’ program. Also supported primarily by tax check-off contributions, this program is designed to reduce human disturbance to sea otters.
In 2016, $5,000 of the fund was offered as part of a larger reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who shot four sea otters near Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, CDFW has not yet received such information.
If someone else prepares your state tax return, please let him or her know you want to donate to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 or the RESPP on line 403. If you use Turbo Tax, when you’re near the end of your tax return it should ask if you want to make a voluntary contribution to a special fund. Click “Yes” and go to lines 403 and 410.
At its Nov. 16 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $28 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California, including the Salton Sea. Some of the 17 funded projects will benefit 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, landowners and the local community. The state funds for all these projects come from bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Funded projects include:
A $14 million grant to the California Department of Water Resources for a cooperative project to construct approximately 640 acres of wetland habitat, including deep water channels, shallow ponds, island refugia and nesting structures. The project will enhance habitat for fish-eating birds on the edge of the Salton Sea at the terminus of the New River, seven miles northwest of the City of Westmorland in Imperial County.
$2.2 million to acquire approximately 624 acre-feet of water and storage rights in Heenan Lake for protection of the Lahontan cutthroat trout fishery located near Markleeville in Alpine County.
A $3.7 million grant to the Land Trust of Napa County for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy, California Natural Resources Agency and others to acquire a conservation easement over approximately 7,266 acres of land. This will preserve and protect managed forest lands, riparian corridors and watersheds that support rare and special status wildlife species and vegetation near the City of Calistoga in Napa County.
A $415,000 grant to the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy and California Natural Resources Agency to acquire a conservation easement over approximately 133 acres of land. This will protect important watersheds, including stream and source waters, and maintain native terrestrial communities and landscape connectivity near Scotts Valley.
A $3.4 million grant to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority for a cooperative project with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the County of Los Angeles, to acquire approximately 71 acres of land. This will protect chaparral, coastal sage scrub, native grasslands and oak woodland-savannah habitat, enhance wildlife linkages, protect watersheds and provide future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near the City of Agoura in Ventura County.
Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) remind motorists to remain alert for wildlife on roadways during Watch Out for Wildlife Week, which runs September 18-24.
“We urge motorists to remain alert and be cautious when traveling through wildlife areas, so our roadways will remain as safe as possible,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Drivers can really make a difference in avoiding wildlife collisions, simply by being aware while driving and watching for wildlife crossing signs.”
According to Defenders of Wildlife, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting native species and their natural communities, there are 725,000 to 1.5 million wildlife-vehicle collisions in the U.S. every year, resulting in more than 200 human fatalities. In California, between eight and 10 drivers and as many as 20,000 deer die in wildlife-vehicle collisions each year.
“Between now and December, deer and other wildlife are highly susceptible to vehicle collisions,” said Marc Kenyon, CDFW’s Human-Wildlife Conflict Program Manager. “Deer will soon start their annual migrations to winter range, bucks will be preoccupied competing for mates, and bears will be searching for food in preparation for hibernation. Such natural behaviors can lead these animals into the way of unsuspecting drivers. Drivers can prevent collisions with animals by being careful and paying attention.”
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.
Wildlife experts from these organizations offer the following tips for motorists:
Be especially alert when driving in areas frequented by wildlife, and reduce your speed so you can react safely.
Pay particular attention when driving during the morning and evening, as wildlife are most active during these times.
If you see an animal cross the road, know that another may be following.
Don’t litter. The odors may entice animals to venture near roadways.
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 246, Santa Barbara County
Six new highway undercrossings have been designed for California tiger salamanders and small animals to pass safely between breeding ponds and upland habitat on the opposite sides of Highway 246 between Buellton and Lompoc. This species is protected under both state and federal Endangered Species Acts. In addition to the design and implementation of these six undercrossings, Caltrans has proposed a five-year monitoring study to assess the undercrossings’ effects on California tiger salamanders and other animals crossing the highway. The project is expected to be completed in April 2017.
Highway 89, Sierra County
On a stretch of Highway 89 between Truckee and Sierraville, a recently-completed $2.08 million project consists of two new 12-foot by 10-foot wildlife undercrossings, providing a safe path for animals to cross under the roadway. The project also includes four escape ramps and over 14,000 linear feet of deer fencing on both sides of the highway to help prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions.
Highway 76, San Diego County
Two new wildlife projects, which are part of the $208 million State Route 76 (SR-76 Corridor Project) East Segment and Interchange construction project between Interstate 15 and Interstate 5, will include six wildlife crossings and escape ramps. Wildlife escape ramps allow animals to jump out of the fenced-in highway, if needed. Post-project monitoring will be conducted after completion to monitor their use and influence decision-making for future projects. The project is expected to be completed in late 2017. Five other new wildlife crossings and directional fencing were installed as part of the SR-76 Melrose to Mission Highway Improvement Project in 2012, also part of the SR-76 Corridor Project.
ing, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $15 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 21 funded projects will benefit 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, landowners and the local community. The state funds for all these projects come from initiatives approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Funded projects include:
A $135,000 grant to the Lake County Land Trust to acquire in fee approximately 34 acres of land for the protection of shoreline freshwater wetland, riparian woodland
and wet meadow habitats that support the state-threatened Clear Lake hitch and the western pond turtle, a state species of special concern. This will also provide future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities in an area known as Big Valley, on the northwestern shore of Clear Lake in Lake County.
A $1.2 million grant to the Feather River Land Trust for a cooperative project with the Natural Resources Agency to acquire a conservation easement over approximately
5,530 acres of land to provide protection for deer, mountain lion and oak habitats near the town of Doyle in Lassen County.
A $1.7 million acquisition in fee of approximately 1,066 acres of land by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to expand the Crocker Meadows Wildlife Area, protect riparian and oak woodland habitat, and for future wildlife oriented public use opportunities near Beckwourth in Plumas County.
A $3 million grant to Sonoma County Agriculture Preservation and Open Space District for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy to acquire a conservation easement over approximately 871 acres of forest lands, including large areas of old and new growth redwood located near Stewarts Point in Sonoma County.
A $2.5 million grant to the San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust for a cooperative project with the Inland Empire Resource Conservation District to acquire in fee approximately 240 acres of land as an expansion of the Sawmill Pebble Plain Ecological Preserve – rare pebble plain habitat supporting a wide variety of endemic plant species – south of Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains, in San Bernardino County.
An $850,000 grant to the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy for a cooperative project to implement a comprehensive habitat restoration program, remove target nonnative invasive weed species and restore native habitat on 65 acres of coastal wetlands on several sites located at Agua Hedionda, Batiquitos Lagoon and San Elijo Lagoon. These are located from approximately nine miles north to five miles south of Encinitas on privately owned properties and on properties owned by CDFW and the Department of Parks and Recreation.