Initiative Aims to Speed Coho Salmon Recovery in California Coastal Watersheds from Santa Cruz to Mendocino Counties

Coho salmon are getting a boost from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) strategic plan to prioritize salmon restoration and habitat improvement projects in coastal watersheds from Santa Cruz to Mendocino counties. In most of these watersheds, coho salmon are in severe decline or locally extinct due to human alterations to land and water resources.

The Priority Action Coho Team (PACT) is designed to focus much needed restoration to help maintain, stabilize and increase localized coho salmon populations. The approach of the PACT initiative is to identify and implement specific short-term actions, drawing from existing state and federal coho salmon recovery plans, to bring immediate benefits.

“PACT employs six strategies emphasizing planning actions and collaboration to accelerate coho salmon recovery from Santa Cruz to Mendocino counties,” said Kevin Shaffer, CDFW Branch Chief. “We look forward to working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and our many partners on collaborating to recover this amazing fish.”

Watersheds where PACT restoration projects are being implemented include Scott Creek in Santa Cruz County and the Russian River in Sonoma County, where a range of projects to restore and improve stream and estuarine habitat have been carried out. These initiatives include recovery actions such as stream habitat restoration, water conservation, captive rearing and fish rescue, together with improvements to permitting, regulatory and enforcement processes.

PACT was developed jointly by CDFW and NOAA Fisheries, and is part of several initiatives to accelerate the implementation of ecological restoration and stewardship projects in California. Complimentary efforts include the Cutting the Green Tape initiative recently launched by the California Natural Resources Agency, other state agencies and the North Coast Salmon Project.

More information about the PACT process, as well as the link to the report, can be found on the CDFW website.

###

Media Contacts:
Stephen Swales, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 376-1746
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

Eroded streambank at Ackerson Meadow

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Feb. 26, 2020 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $33.2 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 41 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:

  • A $275,000 grant to American Rivers, Inc. for a cooperative project with Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest to complete environmental compliance, planning and permitting to restore approximately 230 acres of mountain meadow at three sites: one in Yosemite National Park, one in the Stanislaus National Forest and one managed by both the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) agencies in Tuolumne County.
  • A $300,000 grant to Land Trust of Santa Cruz County for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy to plan, design and permit trails, boardwalks, and fishing and boating access at Watsonville Slough Farm located adjacent to the city of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County.
  • A $1.21 million grant to River Partners for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Kern River Corridor Endowment and Holding Company that will plant milkweed and nectar-rich plants to establish or enhance monarch butterfly habitat on approximately 600 acres of natural lands in the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley and San Diego region.
  • A $1.93 million grant to Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions for a cooperative project with the USFS and Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority to enhance forest health and reduce hazardous fuels through selective thinning, prescribed fire and replanting activities on approximately 1,915 acres of mixed conifer forest in Eldorado National Forest in Amador County.
  • A $2.5 million grant to the Monterey County Resource Management Agency for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy, California State Parks, California Department of Transportation, California Department of Water Resources and Big Sur Land Trust to restore approximately 135 acres on the lower floodplain of the Carmel River located approximately one mile south of the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea in Monterey County.
  • A $2.32 million grant to the Trust for Public Land for a cooperative project with the California Natural Resources Agency’s Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program, National Audubon Society, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Kern River Valley Heritage Foundation to acquire approximately 3,804 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, wildlife corridors, habitat linkages and watersheds, and to provide wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities near Weldon in Kern County.
  • A $1 million grant to the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority (MRCA) and the acceptance of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grant, and the approval to subgrant these federal funds to MRCA to acquire, in fee, approximately 320 acres of land for the protection of a core population of coastal California gnatcatcher, the coastal cactus wren and other sensitive species located near Chino Hills in San Bernardino County.
  • $6.33 million from the USFWS Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grant and approval to subgrant these federal funds to the Endangered Habitats Conservancy (EHC), and a WCB grant to the EHC for a cooperative project with the federal government, acting by and through the U.S. Navy to acquire, in fee, approximately 955 acres of land for the protection of grasslands, oak woodlands, coastal sage scrub and vernal pools that support threatened and endangered species and to support the preservation of wildlife corridors and linkages, located in the community of Ramona in San Diego County.

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

###

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Sacramento

California Fish and Game Commission logo

At its February meeting in Sacramento, 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 the one-day meeting.

The Commission reelected Commissioner Eric Sklar as President and elected Commissioner Samantha Murray as Vice President. Current co-chair assignments were retained for the three committees: commissioners Peter Silva and Murray for the Marine Resources Committee, commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Silva for the Tribal Committee, and commissioners Sklar and Russell Burns for the Wildlife Resources Committee.

Commission Executive Director Melissa Miller-Henson announced plans to celebrate the Commission’s and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) joint 150th anniversary on April 2, 2020 at the State Capitol.

The Commission received a petition evaluation in which CDFW recommended that listing an evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) of mountain lion (southern and central coastal) as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act may be warranted. The Commission will decide whether or not listing may be warranted in April. Preceding this receipt, CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham made a presentation about recent events related to mountain lions and a new significant change to CDFW mountain lion policy. The change expands the geographic range of sensitive populations of mountain lion from strictly the Santa Ana and Santa Monica mountain ranges to the entire range covered under the ESU in the listing petition.

The Commission adopted emergency regulations for recreational take of purple sea urchin at Caspar Cove in Mendocino County as part of a broader study to support recovery of kelp and species that depend on kelp.

The Commission determined that there is sufficient information to indicate that a change in the status of Clara Hunt’s milkvetch from threatened to endangered may be warranted and that it is now a candidate for change of species’ status from threatened to endangered. Clara Hunt’s milkvetch is a plant species in the legume family only found along the border between Napa and Sonoma counties.

After hearing impassioned arguments from stakeholders, the Commission voted unanimously to adopt its first Delta Fisheries Management Policy and an amended Striped Bass Policy.

“I’m proud of the work of our stakeholders, staff of the Commission and CDFW, and Commissioners in reaching this point, recognizing that this is just the beginning of a long effort to effect the changes in the policies to restore the health of the Delta,” said President Sklar.

President Sklar requested that the Commission add language to the Striped Bass Policy to support the “vitality” of the fishery. The newly adopted Delta Fisheries Management Policy calls out explicit support for all game fish fisheries, committing to the striped bass fishery as well as recovery of native species.

Commission President Sklar, Vice President Hostler-Carmesin and Commissioners Burns and Silva were present. Commissioner Murray was absent.

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for April 15 and 16 in Sacramento.

###

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

juvenile coho salmon

Nominations Now Being Accepted for Fisheries Restoration Grant Program Peer Review Committee

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP) is seeking nominations to fill two vacancies on the FRGP Peer Review Committee (PRC). The current vacancies include one seat for a representative  of the public water agency industry and one seat for an academic or research scientist.

Pursuant to the Public Resources Code, section 6217.1, the 14 representatives of the PRC are appointed by the director of CDFW to provide advice, oversight and recommendations for grant funding under the FRGP.

Seven of the PRC’s 14 representatives are recommended by the California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout. Three representatives are County Supervisors from coastal counties recommended by California State Association of Counties.

The remaining four PRC seats represent the following interests: one representative from the agriculture industry, one representative from the timber industry, one representative of public water agency interests and one academic or research scientist with expertise in anadromous fisheries restoration.

All representatives must reside in or represent interests in coastal and Central Valley counties in which native salmon and steelhead exist.

CDFW will accept nominations from the general public for the public water agency industry and academic or research scientist representatives through Jan. 29, 2020. The appointed representatives serve four-year terms, and these appointments extend until January 2024, starting no sooner than the PRC meeting to be held in the winter of 2020.

To nominate a representative for any of the above open seats, please send a nomination letter to:

Timothy Chorey, FRGP Coordinator
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Watershed Restoration Grants Branch
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
frgp@wildlife.ca.gov

Nomination letters must include the resume of the candidate and verification that they represent coastal or Central Valley counties in which salmon and steelhead exist. For more information, please contact Timothy Chorey at (916) 327-8842 or frgp@wildlife.ca,gov.

Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grant Branch, (916) 445-1285

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Harmon Oak Creek

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Nov. 21 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $28.7 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 27 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:

  • A $675,000 grant to the Lake County Land Trust to acquire approximately 200 acres of land for the protection of shoreline freshwater wetland, riparian woodland and wet meadow habitats that support the state threatened Clear Lake hitch along with the western pond turtle, a state species of special concern, and also provide future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities. The land is located on the southwestern shore of Clear Lake in an area known as Big Valley in Lake County.
  • A $329,400 grant to Pollinator Partnership for a cooperative project with Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bowles Farming, Inc., Monarch Joint Venture, Gabel Farm Land Co., Inc. and Namakan West Fisheries to enhance and monitor pollinator habitat located on three privately owned project sites within 10 miles of Los Banos in Merced County.
  • A $562,210 grant to San Bernardino County Transportation Authority for a cooperative project with San Bernardino Council of Governments to develop and complete a final draft of the San Bernardino County Regional Conservation Investment Strategy covering two subareas, the Valley subarea and West Desert subarea, and the Mountain region located in San Bernardino County.
  • Approval of $775,000 for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to acquire approximately 87 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, to preserve biological communities supporting sensitive species, to enhance wildlife linkages and provide future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities as an expansion of CDFW’s McGinty Mountain Ecological Reserve located near the community of Jamul in San Diego County.
  • A $2.57 million grant to Trout Unlimited for a cooperative project with the Mendocino Railway, the Mendocino Land Trust and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to restore access to 1.15 miles of steelhead and salmon habitat and reduce in-stream sediment upstream of where the California Western Railway crosses the upper Noyo River in Mendocino County.
  • A $1.4 million grant to Truckee Donner Land Trust to acquire, in fee, approximately 633 acres located near Truckee in Nevada County to help preserve alpine forests, wildlife corridors and habitat linkages, and to provide wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities.
  • A $2.98 million grant to the California Tahoe Conservancy for a cooperative project with CDFW, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Forest Service to restore 261 acres of wetland habitat owned by the California Tahoe Conservancy in South Lake Tahoe in El Dorado County.
  • An $885,500 grant to Save the Redwoods League for a cooperative project with Peninsula Open Space Trust and Sempervirens Fund to restore 552 acres of redwood and upland hardwood forests in the Deadman Gulch Restoration Reserve portion of the San Vicente Redwoods property situated in Santa Cruz County.
  • A $719,000 grant to Ducks Unlimited, Inc. for a cooperative project with the landowners and Audubon California to enhance wetlands that provide Tricolored Blackbird nesting habitat and waterfowl breeding habitat, located on privately owned land in Kern County.
  • A $3 million grant to Ventura Land Trust to acquire, in fee, approximately 2,118 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, and provide future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities, located five miles east of the city of Ventura in Ventura County.
  • A $4.9 million grant to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority to acquire, in fee, approximately 257 acres of land for the preservation of oak woodland and grassland habitat, wildlife corridors and habitat linkages, and to provide future wildlife-oriented, public use opportunities, located in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County.
  • A $1.4 million grant to the Council for Watershed Health for a cooperative project with the city of Los Angeles, the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, the Friends of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco Foundation for a planning project to provide designs, permits and environmental review for addressing impaired mobility for southern steelhead trout and other native fish along 4.4 miles of the Los Angeles River in downtown Los Angeles.

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

###

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907