Category Archives: Endangered Species

CDFW Awards $40 Million for Ecosystem and Watershed Restoration and Protection Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced that it is awarding $40 million in Proposition 1 funds for water quality, river and watershed protection, and restoration projects for vital waterways throughout California.

In the second of ten planned annual grant cycles, CDFW has selected 44 projects to receive funding from its Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Prop 1) Restoration Grant Programs. The awards, totaling $40 million, include approximately $28 million awarded through the Watershed Restoration Grant Program to projects of statewide importance outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and approximately $12 million awarded through the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program to projects that directly benefit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“In year two of our Prop 1 grant program we continue to support on-the-ground actions that meet the objectives of the California Water Action Plan, as well as planning activities that set the stage for future restoration statewide,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “We have made great progress in the first two grant cycles and we cannot wait to get more multi-benefit projects done throughout the state.”

Each of these multi-benefit projects addresses the priorities outlined in the 2016 Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs Solicitation and the California Water Action Plan. Priorities include: Protecting and restoring mountain meadow ecosystems, managing headwaters for multiple benefits, protecting and restoring anadromous fish habitat, and protecting and restoring coastal wetland ecosystems.

Projects approved for funding through the Watershed Restoration Grant Program include:

  • Lost Coast Redwood and Salmon Initiative Phase 2 (2016) – Indian Creek Conservation Easement ($1,400,00 to Northcoast Regional Land Trust);
  • Humboldt Bay Regional Invasive Spartina Eradication Project ($450,000 to Redwood Community Action Agency);
  • Modoc Plateau Meadows Assessment and Restoration Design Project ($253,309 to California Trout, Inc.);
  • Dry Creek Meadow Restoration ($290,000 to Truckee River Watershed Council);
  • Stanford-Vina Fish Passage Planning and Design Project ($418,408 to Trout Unlimited);
  • San Vicente Creek Watershed Clematis vitalba Control Project ($1,141,555 to Sempervirens Fund);
  • Carman Watershed Restoration Project, Phase II ($589,732 to Sierra Valley Resource Conservation District);
  • Lagunitas Creek Floodplain and Riparian Restoration Project ($935,467 to Salmon Protection and Watershed Network);
  • Napa River Restoration Oakville to Oak Knoll Project ($200,000 to Napa County Department of Public Works);
  • Protecting and Restoring Wilderness Meadows in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks ($86,340 to American Rivers);
  • Oroville Wildlife Area Flood Stage Reduction and Restoration Project ($2,509,700 to Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency);
  • Dennett Dam Removal ($363,183 to Tuolumne River Trust);
  • Marshall Ranch Conservation Easement – 2016 ($5,012,125 to California Rangeland Trust);
  • Middle Branch of Russian Gulch – Forbearance Agreement/Conservation Easement ($400,000 to Sonoma Land Trust);
  • Matilija Dam Removal 65 Percent Design Planning Project ($3,300,504 to County of Ventura);
  • A Watershed Approach to Enhancing Habitat for Salmonids in the San Lorenzo River Watershed ($705,094 to Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County);
  • Green Valley Watershed Coho Migration Enhancement Project – Design Phase ($376,895 to North Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council);
  • McInnis Marsh Restoration Project ($550,000 to Marin County Parks);
  • South Canal Diversion Fish Screen ($829,129 to Yuba County Water Agency);
  • Thompson Meadow Restoration and Water Budget Evaluation Project ($196,784 to Plumas Corporation);
  • Freshwater Creek Off-Channel Habitat Restoration Project-Regulatory Compliance ($124,701 to Redwood Community Action Agency);
  • Mill Creek Barrier Removal and Riparian Restoration Project in Talmage ($383,939 to Mendocino County Resource Conservation District);
  • Non-Natal Habitat Enhancement Planning For ESA-Listed Salmonids in the Humboldt Bay Watershed ($179,316 to Pacific Coast Fish, Wildlife and Wetlands Restoration Association);
  • Van Norden Meadow Restoration Project ($1,108,657 to South Yuba River Citizens League);
  • Laguna-Mark West Creek Watershed Master Restoration Planning Project ($517,000 to Sonoma County Water Agency);
  • CICC Packer Ranch Fish Screen Project and Pump Station Upgrade ($467,611 to Family Water Alliance, Inc.);
  • Fish Passage Design at Interstate 5 Bridge Array on Trabuco Creek ($383,890 to California Trout, Inc.);
  • Salmon River Floodplain Restoration Planning and NEPA Analysis ($225,340 to Salmon River Restoration Council);
  • Grayson Restoration Planning ($188,679 to River Partners);
  • Planning for Priority Meadow Restoration in Lahontan Basin Watersheds ($346,352 to American Rivers);
  • DCWC Lower Deer Creek Flood and Ecosystem Improvement Project, Phase 1 ($1,950,289 to Deer Creek Watershed Conservancy);
  • Rancho Cañada Carmel River Protection and Instream Flow Enhancement Project ($1,450,000 to Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District);
  • Developing Restoration Strategies for Hydrologic Connectivity in Williams Creek ($291,594 to Humboldt County Resource Conservation District);
  • Restoration of Priority Meadows in the Walker Watershed ($235,757 to American Rivers);
  • Cottonwood Canyon Acquisition Project ($507,000 to Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy);
  • Auburn Ravine-Hemphill Diversion Assessment Phase 2 ($177,042 to Nevada Irrigation District); and
  • Hat Creek Enhancement Project – 2016 ($196,564 to Fall River Resource Conservation District).

Projects approved for funding through the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program include:

  • Paradise Cut Flood and Conservation Easement Acquisition ($2,035,000 to American Rivers);
  • Contaminant Effects on Two California Fish Species and the Food Web That Supports Them ($1,701,829 to The Regents of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine);
  • Impact of Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Water Flows on Migratory Behavior of Chinook Salmon Smolts in the South Delta ($1,510,723 to Regents of the University of California, Davis, Agriculture and Natural Resources);
  • Investigating the Factors that Affect Age-0 Longfin Smelt Abundance, Distribution, and Recruitment in the Upper SF Estuary ($330,811 to Metropolitan Water District of Southern California);
  • Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Habitat and Drainage Improvement Project Construction ($4,852,766 to Ducks Unlimited);
  • Impact of Climate Variability on Surface Water Quality: Cyanobacteria and Contaminants ($891,341 to The Regents of the University of California, Davis, Aquatic Toxicology Program); and
  • Lower Walnut Creek Restoration Project ($537,457 to Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District).

CDFW plans to release the next Prop 1 solicitation in late spring or early summer 2017. Prior to its release, CDFW will host a series of workshops to engage potential project proponents. CDFW hopes to provide additional outreach to certain regions of the state that have submitted fewer proposals, particularly in Southern California.

At that time, general information about CDFW’s Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs, as well as a schedule of locations and dates for workshops will be available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/grants.

Funding for these projects comes from the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act 2014 (Proposition 1) bond funds, a portion of which are allocated annually through the California State Budget Act. More information about Proposition 1 can be found here.

Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 445-1285
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

CDFW Wildlife Officers Crack Down on Ivory Trafficking

Investigations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have culminated in illegal trafficking of wildlife cases pending in Los Angeles and Alameda counties, and in San Francisco.

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In recent weeks, CDFW’s Wildlife Trafficking Team worked three separate investigations:

  • CDFW wildlife officers intercepted and seized 377 items of jewelry containing pieces labeled as mammoth ivory at an air cargo terminal in Los Angeles, following a report from U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) inspectors regarding the unlawful commercial importation. The ivory was shipped from Indonesia into California. Criminal charges will be recommended to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for the suspected violations.
  • CDFW wildlife officers and USFWS inspectors intercepted a shipment of three boxes from Indonesia containing 116 items made of python skin. The items included large and small purses, large bags and a variety of wallets. Like ivory and rhinoceros horn, it is unlawful to import into California for commercial purposes the dead body or parts of a python. The items were seized, and criminal charges will be recommended to the Alameda County District Attorney’s office for the suspected violations.
  • Wildlife officers also worked with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office to crackdown on illicit trafficking of ivory and rhinoceros horn in San Francisco. Wildlife officers inspected several businesses in San Francisco and found two with significant violations. Wildlife officers seized a solid bone pagoda and a rhinoceros horn bracelet at one location. At another location they seized 18 statuettes ranging from 15 to 26 inches containing suspected pieces of ivory and 37 statuettes ranging in size from one-half inch to six inches suspected to be made entirely from ivory. They also seized suspected whale teeth, two ivory chess sets and two carved tusks labeled as mammoth ivory. The total value of the seized items from the San Francisco operation is estimated at over $500,000. Criminal charges will be recommended to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office for the suspected violations.

CDFW wildlife officers have submitted formal complaints to prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles and Alameda counties.  Prosecutors will determine whether charges will be filed.  No arrests have been made to date.

A law banning the sale of nearly all ivory in the state of California took effect July 1, 2016. The ban, which can be found in California Fish and Game Code, section 2022, encompasses teeth and tusks of elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, mastodon, walrus, warthog, whale and narwhal, as well as rhinoceros horn, regardless of whether it is raw, worked or powdered, or from a store or a private collection. Under the law, advertising the sale of any items containing ivory is also strictly prohibited. The legislation helped fund the team of CDFW officers to focus on ivory, rhinoceros horn and other wildlife trafficking, including training and laboratory capability for evidence analysis.

“Under Governor Brown’s leadership, laws to combat illegal wildlife trafficking have been substantially strengthened,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “The creation of our Wildlife Trafficking Team and enhancement of our laboratory and legal staff are important steps in stopping the epidemic of poaching and trafficking of wildlife in California and around the world. This effort by our wildlife officers demonstrates that the black market trafficking of wildlife in California will not be tolerated. We stand ready beside our federal and state partners, as well as District Attorneys across the state to take these poachers and traffickers out of business.”

Under the new law, raw ivory and most crafted items that include ivory may no longer be purchased, sold or possessed with the intent to sell, with limited exceptions, including the following:

  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a bona fide antique (with historical documentation showing the antique is at least 100 years old) provided the item is less than five percent ivory or rhino horn by volume;
  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a musical instrument (with documentation of pre-1975 construction) provided the instrument contains less than 20 percent ivory or rhino horn by volume; and
  • Activities expressly authorized by federal law, or federal exemptions or permits.

Although the sale of ivory and elephant parts has been illegal in California since 1977, the new law closed a loophole that allowed the continued sale of ivory that was imported into the state before 1977. The sale of ivory, rhino horn or products that contain ivory will be a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $50,000 and one year of incarceration.

Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

Public Review Period Extended for Newhall Ranch Additional Environmental Analysis

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has extended the public comment and review period for the previously released Draft Additional Environmental Analysis (AEA) for the Newhall Ranch Resource Management and Development Plan and Spineflower Conservation Plan (RMDP/SCP) Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

CDFW previously released the Draft AEA for public circulation, review and comment between Nov. 3, 2016 and Jan. 6, 2017. The review period will now extend to Feb. 13, 2017.

CDFW certified the RMDP/SCP EIR in December 2010 in connection with various approvals under the Fish and Game Code for the Newhall Ranch project, which is located in northern Los Angeles County.  A detailed description of the project as a whole, as well as CDFW’s related approval documents and findings adopted by CDFW, can be found here. A description of the project as modified is included in the Draft AEA.

As stated in CDFW’s related notice on Nov. 3, 2016, CDFW prepared the Draft AEA in response to two important issues recently addressed by the California Supreme Court in relation to the project and the RMDP/SCP EIR specifically. The Court held that: (1) for purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act, that CDFW’s 2010 significance determination regarding project greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was not supported by substantial evidence, and (2) CDFW’s approval of the project in 2010 with two biological resource mitigation measures calling, if necessary, for collection and relocation of unarmored threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni), violated Fish and Game Code, section 5515.

Unarmored threespine stickleback is a freshwater fish native to California. It has been designated as endangered by federal and state law, and is fully protected under the Fish and Game Code.

The Draft AEA can be downloaded at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/5/newhall/DraftAEA. Copies on CD may also be requested by sending an email to newhallranch@wildlife.ca.gov.

Copies of the Draft AEA are available for public review at CDFW’s South Coast Regional Office at the Ruffin Road address, as well as the following locations:

  • Old Town Newhall Library, 24500 Main Street, Santa Clarita (91321)
  • Stevenson Ranch Library, 25950 The Old Road, Stevenson Ranch (91381)
  • Valencia Library, 23743 West Valencia Boulevard, Santa Clarita (91355)
  • Sylmar Library, 14561 Polk Street, Sylmar (91342)
  • E.P. Foster Library, 651 East Main Street, Ventura (93001)
  • Castaic Library, 27971 Sloan Canyon Road, Castaic (91384)
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife, 4665 Lampson Ave., Los Alamitos (90702)
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Planning Branch, 1700 Ninth St., second floor, Sacramento (95811)

Public comments must be limited to issues addressed in the Draft AEA, and must be postmarked or received by email no later than Feb. 13, 2017.

Comments sent to CDFW by regular mail should be sent to the following address:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Comments on Newhall Ranch Draft AEA
c/o Betty Courtney
3883 Ruffin Road
San Diego, CA  92123

Comments may also be emailed to CDFW at newhallranch@wildlife.ca.gov. Please put “Comments on Newhall Ranch Draft AEA” in the subject line.

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

CDFW Releases Final Wolf Management Plan for California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today released the Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California (Part 1 and Part 2). CDFW gathered diverse input from a varied group of stakeholders for the past two years before finalizing the plan.

“Wolves returning to the state was inevitable, we always knew that,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Over the past few years we have seen wolves re-establish themselves. It’s an exciting ecological story, and this plan represents the path forward to manage wolves in a state with nearly 40 million people.”

This plan addresses important concerns regarding the presence of wolves, including conflicts with livestock and the maintenance of adequate prey sources for wolves, other predators, and public use. Given the controversy of this iconic species, it was important that the planning process produce a source of clear, objective information, based on a thorough consideration of the available science most relevant for wolves in California. The plan covers key issues and potential actions CDFW believes important to the understanding and future conservation of wolves.

Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California:

Part 1

Part 2

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

Public Meeting to be Held on Proposed Sacramento River Fishing Closure Alternatives

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is holding a public meeting to solicit comments on proposed fishing closure alternatives for 5.5 miles of the Sacramento River above the Highway 44 Bridge in Redding to the Keswick Dam. CDFW has determined a potential closure may be necessary to protect endangered winter-run Chinook salmon.

The meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 14, from 5-7 p.m. at the Redding Public Library, 1100 Parkview Ave., Redding (96001).

CDFW is proposing a suite of closure alternatives in this critical holding and spawning area to ensure added protection for the federal and state endangered winter-run Chinook, which face high risk of extinction. Given the gravity of the current situation, it is imperative that each and every adult fish be given maximum protection. Current regulations do not allow fishing for Chinook, but incidental catch by anglers who are targeting trout could occur.

This reach is the principal spawning area for winter-run Chinook, with an estimated 98 percent of 2014 and 2015 in-river spawning occurring in the 5.5 mile stretch under consideration for closure. This section represents only 10 percent of the waters currently open to fishing upstream of the Red Bluff Diversion Dam.

In 2014 and 2015, approximately 95 percent of eggs and young winter-run Chinook were lost due to elevated river temperatures.

CDFW works with the California Fish and Game Commission to determine whether fishing restrictions in certain areas are necessary.

Persons with disabilities needing reasonable accommodation to participate in public meetings or other CDFW activities are invited to contact CDFW’s Accessibility Coordinator Melissa Carlin at (916) 651-1214 or melissa.carlin@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
Jason Roberts, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 225-2131
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958