Category Archives: Endangered Species

Remember Endangered Species at Tax Time

 

Saving endangered species from extinction takes a lot of work, but you don’t have to do much to help. Simply making a voluntary contribution on your state income tax return helps the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) do the heavy lifting. Just enter a whole dollar amount on line 403 for the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program, and on line 410 for the California Sea Otter Fund.

“Thanks to our wise and generous donors, CDFW has accomplished many conservation actions,” CDFW Environmental Program Manager Karen Miner said. “Yet, much remains to be done for a number of threatened and endangered species in California. Additional funding is needed for us to keep making progress. I hope more Californians will donate and our donors will consider increasing their contribution this year, and spread the word to family, friends and neighbors.”

Taxpayers’ donations make more of a positive difference than you might think, because contributions help CDFW acquire federal matching funds, furthering the positive actions that can be done for threatened and endangered species and their habitat.

Among other things, past donations to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program have funded monitoring programs for several endangered species populations, including a very small population of Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccose ssp. californica) located on the picturesque North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Butte County. CDFW biologists are also monitoring populations of invasive pennyroyal that are encroaching upon the tiny and beautiful many-flowered navarretia (Navarretia leucocephala ssp. plieantha) at Loch Lomond Ecological Reserve in Lake County.

Biologists are analyzing available data on the flat-tailed horned lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii), a well-camouflaged species that is endemic to the Sonoran Desert, to assess factors that may be affecting the species’ ability to survive and reproduce.

Scripps’s murrelet (Synthliboramphus scrippsi) is another species CDFW is working to conserve, in concert with many partners involved in the Scripps’s Murrelet Technical Committee (affiliated with the Pacific Seabird Group). The committee has prioritized management actions and is finalizing a conservation plan to help recover this state-threatened little seabird that nests on some of the Channel Islands in Southern California. The black and white-feathered murrelet is a member of the bird family Alcidae which includes murres and puffins, and the extinct Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis).

CDFW is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and others to develop and implement conservation actions such as disease treatment, captive rearing, reintroductions and habitat restoration for three high-risk species of Sierra Nevada amphibians: the Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus), southern mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa), and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae).

In partnership with a private land owner, CDFW biologists helped restore habitat for Shoshone pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis Shoshone), a rare endemic State Species of Concern, literally bringing it back from the edge of extinction. This fish has resumed its place in a desert wetland ecosystem and may be seen in Shoshone Village at the edge of Death Valley National Park.

CDFW biologists also worked with Yosemite National Park to conduct remote camera surveys for fisher (Pekania pennanti), and with multiple partners to prepare a conservation plan for fisher in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. The fisher is a rare forest carnivore with dark brown fur, and is related to mink and sea otters.

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.

The annual sea otter survey conducted in 2015 indicated that the population in California may be slowly increasing, to just over 3,000. That is a small fraction of their historic numbers and this population is still vulnerable to oil spills, environmental pollution, predation by white sharks and other threats. In fact, despite the overall population holding steady, the number of sea otters at the northern and southern ends of their range in California decreased in 2015.

CDFW biologists have been able to achieve important recovery milestones and conserve vulnerable species, thanks to California taxpayers like you. More information about how CDFW uses funds in the Rare and Endangered Species and Sea Otter programs 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 California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 or the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program 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.

The state has listed more than 200 species of plants and 80 species of animals 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.

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Media Contacts:
Laird Henkel, Sea Otter Program, (831) 469-1726
Esther Burkett, Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 531-1594
Jeb Bjerke, Habitat Conservation Planning Branch (plants), (916) 651-6594
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Public Meeting to be Held on Proposed Closure of Part of Sacramento River

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is holding a public meeting to solicit comments on a proposed emergency fishing closure of 5.5 miles of the Sacramento River above the Highway 44 Bridge in Redding to the Keswick Dam. CDFW has determined this closure is necessary to protect endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. The anticipated dates of closure are April 1 through July 31.

The meeting will be held Friday, Jan. 29, from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Redding Public Library, 1100 Parkview Ave., Redding (96001).

“Because of the drought, we had to close the river last year to save as many of these fish as possible,” said Lt. Richard Wharton, CDFW Law Enforcement supervisor in Redding. “The great news is we had widespread cooperation from Shasta County anglers, who clearly demonstrated they care about this dwindling species.”

CDFW is proposing a complete fishing closure 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.

An additional measure taken was an agreement with the city of Redding to reduce the amount of artificial light from the Sundial Bridge during the critical stages of salmon migration. The bright lights were causing the fish to stop their journey at the bridge; by dimming the lights, city officials removed the deterrent while still sufficiently illuminating the bridge for tourists.

“We appreciate the city stepping up to help conservation efforts by lowering the lights on one of the city’s most popular attractions,” said Neil Manji, CDFW Northern Region Manager. “In our studies we found that once the light levels came down, the fish immediately swam under the bridge on their way to the sea.”

This reach is the principal winter-run Chinook spawning area during these extraordinary drought conditions. An estimated 98 percent of 2014 and 2015 in-river spawning occurred 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. Given current drought conditions, it is likely the 2016-year eggs and young salmon will again be subject to extremely trying conditions.

CDFW is tasked by the Governor to work with the California Fish and Game Commission to determine whether fishing restrictions in certain areas are necessary and prudent as drought conditions persist. The proposed closure is also in accordance with the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.

 

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Sept. 3 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $31 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 27 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 funds for all these projects come from initiatives approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:

  • A $375,000 grant to the Solano Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with landowners, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Center for Land-based Learning, to enhance approximately 21 acres of riparian habitat on two privately owned properties – one located approximately five miles north of Rio Vista and the second approximately four miles southeast of Winters, in Solano County.
  • A $510,000 grant to Anza-Borrego Foundation for a cooperative project with the San Diego Association of Governments, the Nature Conservancy, and the Resources Legacy Fund to acquire in fee approximately 1,129 acres of land for the protection of habitat that supports endangered species, habitat linkages and corridors between existing protected lands, and potential wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Cuyamaca in San Diego County.
  • A $3.4 million grant to the Nature Conservancy for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy to acquire a conservation easement on approximately 2,554 acres of native forest habitats, including redwood, Douglas fir and Grand fir forest in the upland zones, and mature red alder forest within the riparian zone along the Ten Mile River, near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.
  • A $1.4 million grant to the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District to acquire approximately 443 acres of land for the protection and preservation of deer, mountain lion and oak woodland habitat, and existing regional wildlife linkages west of Lake Berryessa in Napa County.
  • Authorized a tax credit on behalf of United Technologies Corporation in the amount of $8,607,500, consistent with the Natural Heritage Preservation Tax Credit Act Program and awarded $2.7 million to reimburse the state general fund. This is part of a larger cooperative project with Santa Clara Open Space Authority, USFWS, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California State Parks, California Coastal Conservancy, the Resources Legacy Fund and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to acquire approximately 1,831 acres of land. Purchasing this land will protect threatened and endangered species, provide movement corridors and connectivity, and provide wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Morgan Hill in Santa Clara County.
  • A $980,000 grant to the Elkhorn Slough Foundation for a cooperative project with CDFW, the California State Coastal Conservancy, DWR, USFWS and Santa Cruz County Public Works, to restore approximately 46 acres of tidal marsh and five acres of perennial grasses on CDFW’s Elkhorn Slough National Marine Estuarine Research Reserve, two miles east of Moss Landing in Monterey County.
  • A $7.5 million acquisition in fee of approximately 282 acres of land by CDFW and to accept settlement funds from the U.S. Department of the Interior Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Fund for the protection of threatened and endangered species, and riparian and floodplain habitat along the Santa Clara River, and to provide wildlife-oriented public use opportunities associated with CDFW’s Fillmore Fish Hatchery in Ventura County.

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

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

Flat, green and gold pasture in Solano County, California
Cronin Ranch pasture, north of Rio Vista. Solano Resource Conservation District photo
weedy stream bank and channel
Weedy stream bank and channel where habitat restoration will occur on Cronin Ranch. Solano Resource Conservation District photo
dirt-covered ridge looks like moonscape under blue sky
Coyote Ridge near Morgan Hill. Santa Clara Open Space Authority photo
pawprint of California black bear in soil
Fresh bear track west of Lake Berryessa in Napa County. Photo used with permission.
a small spring in oak woodland
Partially developed spring in deer, mountain lion, and oak woodland habitat west of Lake Berryessa. Photo used with permission.
view of conifer forest and hills from above the fog
Native forest habitats near Ten Mile River in Mendocino County. Nature Conservancy photo
a fallen log lays across a small stream runs through red alder forest
Mature red alder forest in the riparian zone along the Ten Mile River in Mendocino County. Nature Conservancy photo

CDFW Seeks Information Related to Flat-tailed Horned Lizard

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking information relevant to a proposal to list the flat-tailed horned lizard as an endangered species.

The flat-tailed horned lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii) inhabits desert habitats in southeastern California, the extreme southwestern portion of Arizona and the adjacent portions of northeastern Baja California Norte and northwestern Sonora, Mexico. This species has the smallest range of any horned lizard in the United States. Approximately one-quarter of the flat-tailed horned lizard’s range is in California, where it is confined to lower elevations throughout much of the Salton Trough, sections of eastern San Diego County, central Riverside County and western and south-central Imperial County.

In June 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) to formally list the flat-tailed horned lizard as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The listing petition described a variety of threats to the survival of flat-tailed horned lizards in California. These include direct and indirect impacts associated with agricultural, urban and renewable energy development, on- and off-road vehicles, habitat fragmentation, barriers to movement, military training and border activities, nonnative plants and climate change. CDFW recommended and the Commission voted to advance the species to candidacy on February 12, 2015. The Commission published findings of this decision on February 24, 2015, triggering a 12-month period during which CDFW will conduct a status review to inform the Commission’s decision on whether to list the species.

As part of the status review process, CDFW is soliciting information from the public regarding the species’ ecology, genetics, life history, distribution, abundance, habitat, the degree and immediacy of threats to reproduction or survival, adequacy of existing management and recommendations for management of the species. Comments, data and other information can be submitted in writing to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Nongame Wildlife Program
Attn: Laura Patterson
1812 9th Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Comments may also be submitted by email to wildlifemgt@wildlife.ca.gov. If submitting comments by email, please include “flat-tailed horned lizard” in the subject heading.

All comments received by September 14, 2015 will be evaluated prior to submission of the CDFW report to the Commission. Receipt of the report will be placed on the agenda for the next available meeting of the Commission after delivery and the report will be made available to the public at that time. Following the receipt of the CDFW report, the Commission will allow a 30-day public comment period prior to taking any action on CDFW’s recommendation.

CBD’s listing petition and CDFW’s petition evaluation for the flat-tailed horned lizard are available at fgc.ca.gov/regulations/2014/index.aspx#fthl.

Media Contacts:
Laura Patterson, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 341-6981
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

May 15 is the 10th National Endangered Species Day

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recognizes the 10th National Endangered Species Day with a focused environmental concern. The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend to prevent extinction. Special activities are scheduled at the zoos in San Diego, Santa Ana, Los Angeles and San Francisco, at Yosemite National Park, San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, San Diego Botanic Gardens, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, Buena Vista Audubon Society Nature Center, San Francisco Zoo and Sacramento’s Beach Lake Park. Visit www.endangeredspeciesday.org to learn more. California, with all its geographic variety, has tremendous biological diversity. Our state supports more than 5,000 native plants and more than 1,000 native animal species. At least one third of the plants and two thirds of the animals here are endemic species that occur nowhere else in the world. Of all these species, more than 300 are designated by the state as rare, threatened or endangered. There are 133 species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act in California. Loss of habitat, water management conflicts, invasive species, poaching and climate change are the greatest threats to their long-term survival. The combination of wildfires and extreme drought conditions in most of the state add to the pressures on our already-stressed wild plants and animals. CDFW is paying special attention to priority listed species and other sensitive native wildlife that are in areas most severely affected by the drought. Emergency drought funds support projects that transferred water to critical fish and wildlife populations that might not have survived the continuing severe dry conditions without it. Examples of actions taken last year include the flooding of wetland habitats for giant garter snakes in State Wildlife Areas and the relocation of stranded salmon and steelhead. CDFW is establishing fish and wildlife stressor monitoring to assess the drought’s effects and identify key support projects for high-priority listed species such as Amargosa vole, tri-colored blackbird, salmon and species that occur in the San Joaquin Valley. One endangered plant is Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. californica), a small annual plant that only occurs at the bottom of rocky vernal pools in Butte County. The species has been protected at CDFW’s Stone Ridge and North Table Mountain Ecological Reserves, and although several thousand plants were observed at Stone Ridge this year, only 107 plants were counted at North Table Mountain, which is open to the public and offers fantastic spring wildflower viewing. Endangered Species Day was started in 2006 by the U.S. Senate to raise awareness of and celebrate these disappearing plant and animal species, and draw attention to successful recovery programs and opportunities for the public to get involved. It also honors the people who uphold the legacy of the Act while inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders. To learn more about CDFW’s drought-related actions to protect California’s fish and wildlife, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/drought.

Gray owl on tree branch
A great gray owl in Sierra National Forest near Oakhurst. Chris Stermer/CDFW photo
Orange and yellow globe-like flower
Pitkin marsh lily, (lilium pardalinum), a state-listed endangered species. Roxanne Bittman/DFG photo
gray freshwater fish with salmon-colored sides and gills in clear stream
Rare Paiute cutthroat trout in a remote Alpine County stream. CDFW photo.
A red fox with black legs and ears, sitting in snow
Sierra Nevada red fox, in Sonora Pass area, Mono County. CDFW photo
A light brown vole in a gloved hand
Captive Amargosa vole. Don Preisler/UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Western pond turtle on dry gravel
Western pond turtle. Christina Sousa/CDFW photo
a dark gray salamander on wet dirt
Santa Cruz Long-Toed Salamander. David Laabs photo.
Tan and brown giant garter snake
Female, standard brown giant garter snake. Eric Hansen photo

Media Contacts: Daniel Applebee, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (209) 588-1879 Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420