California Fish and Game Commission Meets

At its Oct. 14, 2020 meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from this week’s meeting.

fish and game commission logo

The Commission adopted changes to the statewide sportfishing regulations to make them more user friendly. The regulation is the culmination of years of work by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife including input from stakeholders to overhaul and simplify these regulations. This effort will result in a 52 percent increase in fishing opportunity in special regulated waters and open up significant opportunities for the remaining inland waters across the state. The regulation is expected to take effect March 1, 2021, after final approval by the Office of Administrative Law.

Recreational and commercial groundfish regulations were adopted for consistency with federal regulations.

Three new wild trout waters were designated as Trout Heritage Waters, while the designation was removed for one section of waterway.

The Commission heard from stakeholders about extending the sunset date on the current recreational red abalone closure, amending recreational take of crab regulations to provide additional whale and turtle protections in the trap fishery, and amending regulations to allow for additional recreational take of sea urchins. The items were discussions only and no action was taken today.

In a unanimous vote, the Commission determined that changing the status the Mohave Desert Tortoise from threatened to endangered under the California Endangered Species Act may be warranted.

The full commission – President Eric Sklar, Vice President Samantha Murray and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Peter Silva – was present. President Sklar announced that former Commissioner Russell Burns recently resigned from the Commission and the seat he vacated is now open.

As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting budget gap in California, Commission meetings through June 2021 will be held via webinar and teleconference.

The agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for Dec. 9-10, 2020.

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The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.

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

Images of a western snowy plover, a California tiger salamander, a Coho salmon, and a San Joaquin kit fox

New Video Series and Website Help Tell the Story of California’s Vulnerable Species

According to a 2019 United Nations report on species extinction, an estimated one million animal and plant species worldwide are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. Still, there is plenty we can do to address the challenges facing listed species. Several state and federal natural resource agencies recently partnered to produce a video series and educational website highlighting successful conservation efforts to preserve some of California’s threatened and endangered species.

Saving Species Together, a joint project between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  Fisheries, illustrates how resource agencies, private landowners, non-profits and citizens have come together to help some of California’s vulnerable species. A half-hour program compiled from the videos will be airing on PBS starting in November as well.

The four listed species to be highlighted by Saving Species Together include:

  • Western snowy plover: Resource managers and volunteers help protect and restore habitat for the western snowy plover at Point Reyes National Seashore and the Mike Thompson Wildlife Area, South Spit Humboldt Bay.
  • Coho salmon: Coho specialists from a timber company, a non-profit and NOAA Fisheries help juvenile Coho salmon in the Eel River Watershed.
  • San Joaquin kit fox: Resource managers, non-profits and a solar company find ways to protect the endangered San Joaquin kit fox in urban environments and on a 26,500-acre preserve in the Central Valley.
  • California tiger salamander: Resource managers, private developers and biological consultants work together to protect the California tiger salamander in native habitat in northern California grasslands.

The SavingSpeciesTogether.org website is hosted by CDFW. It includes the videos, information about the featured species, information on what private landowners and the public can do to help listed species, campaign outreach materials and many other resources.

The videos were produced by Full Frame Productions. The program was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with community service funds paid by the defendant in a securities fraud case captioned as United States of America v. Wildlife Management, LLC (N.D. California).

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Media Contact:
Bridget Kennedy, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 502-7472

California Fish and Game Commission Holds Meeting on Western Joshua Tree

The California Fish and Game Commission held a meeting today to address issues related to the listing of the western Joshua tree as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).

fish and game commission logo

In a unanimous 4-0 vote, the Commission determined that listing western Joshua tree as threatened or endangered under CESA may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review of the species and the Commission will make a final decision at a future meeting. During the status review, the western Joshua tree is protected under CESA as a candidate species.

Additionally, in a 3-1 vote (Commission Vice President Samantha Murray was the dissenting vote), the Commission adopted regulations to authorize conditional take of western Joshua tree during its candidacy for 15 solar energy projects expected to break ground within the year. This emergency rulemaking is a result of discussion and consultation between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, renewable energy developers, local governments and the petitioner, the Center for Biological Diversity.

Climate change impacts pose a clear threat to public health in California and are proving to be a primary threat to the survivability of western Joshua tree. This emergency rulemaking exemplifies California’s innate ability to lead the country in fighting climate change by advancing solar projects to help keep the state on track to meet its renewable energy goals, all while protecting biodiversity.

As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Commission meetings through June 2021 will be held via webinar and teleconference.

Commission President Eric Sklar, Vice President Samantha Murray and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Peter Silva were present. Commissioner Russell Burns, who had already recused himself of the western Joshua tree decision at the August meeting, was absent.

The agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived video recording will be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for Oct. 14, 2020.

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

The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.

Elkhorn Slough

Celebrate California Biodiversity Day 2020 by Exploring Nature, In Person or Online

California is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, with more than 30,000 species of insects, 6,500 plants, 650 birds, 220 mammals, 100 reptiles, 75 amphibians, 70 freshwater fish and 100 species of marine fish and mammals. We celebrate the unique diversity of living things found in our state, and encourage actions to protect them, on California Biodiversity Day, held Sept. 7 of each year. In 2020, the celebration coincides with Labor Day.

Although physical distancing restrictions and other COVID-19 precaution have prevented California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) ecological reserves and wildlife areas from planning the “open house” style celebrations that were hosted last year, where large groups of people could gather, CDFW staff across the state have created a roster of ways – both virtual and outdoors – for Californians to explore and learn about the biodiversity found on state lands. A master list of California Biodiversity Day events can be found at https://resources.ca.gov/biodiversityday2020.

This year’s virtual events, self-guided tours and outdoor opportunities lend themselves to physical distancing. The events will be held over the course of a week, from September 5-13, 2020.

A sampling of California Biodiversity Day 2020 events, many of which feature the use of the free iNaturalist app, include the following:

  • Take one of the many self-guided tours available at CDFW properties throughout the state. Use the iNaturalist app to learn and document any plants, animals or other organisms you encounter while exploring CDFW ecological reserves and wildlife areas.
  • Challenge yourself with a self-guided bioblitz at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Contribute observations of organisms spotted while exploring the park between September 5 and 13.
  • Play along in the bioblitz competition between Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Support your favorite park in their quest to log the highest number of bioblitz participants.
  • Play California Biodiversity Bingo! Download the California Academy of Science’s bingo card and see if you can find enough common species in your backyard or neighborhood to make a bingo.
  • Challenge your family to with a bioblitz at the greater Mono Lake area, including Lee Vining Canyon and Lundy Canyon. Share what you see, from bird nests to scat samples!
  • Get ideas for kid-friendly activities on the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History’s website. Learn about ways to engage kids at home in exploring and learning about biodiversity.
  • Venture out on a virtual scavenger hunt at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Walk along the Discovery Trail and try to find as many of the species on the list as you can!

Please visit the website for a full list of events and details.

All proposed in-person activities will take place outdoors and involve minimal contact between participants and any staff present, with a minimum physical distance of 6 feet from individuals from different households observed by all.

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Media Contacts:
Kim Tenggardjaja, CDFW Science Institute, (916) 704-3092
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

California Fish and Game Commission Meets Remotely

On the second day of its April remote meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from today’s part of the meeting (see information from yesterday).

The Commission acknowledged robust public participation using remote technology.FGC Logo

“While we all are learning this remote world together, this meeting proved that government can continue with public input,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “Governor Newsom recently said we expect a mid-May peak of COVID-19. I implore Californians to stay healthy and stay home to help save lives.”

The Commission approved the mammal hunting regulations and increased the number of elk tags in the northwest management unit. This increased hunting opportunity for the state’s hunting public, based on the best-available scientific data, is due to robust elk populations in this part of the state. The recovery of these elk is a great success story in California wildlife conservation.

The Commission approved the waterfowl daily and seasonal limits for ducks and geese for the 2020-21 hunting season. The northern pintail limit will remain at one pintail per day due to the current status of the population. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to improve the models to address the public’s concerns that pintail limits are too low.

The Commission adopted proposed regulations for public use on CDFW lands, including wildlife areas and ecological reserves. The regulations designate one new wildlife area and seven new ecological reserves, remove areas from the regulations where CDFW no longer has management authority, authorize site-specific public uses and make minor changes to clarify the regulations.

The Commission voted unanimously that listing of the Shasta snow-wreath may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review by CDFW.

The Commission voted unanimously that listing of an evolutionarily significant unit of mountain lions may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review by the CDFW.

Commission President Sklar, Commission Vice President Samantha Murray, and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, Russell Burns and Peter Silva participated in the call.

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is a teleconference scheduled for May 14, 2020.

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The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.