Category Archives: Habitat Conservation

Black Market Marijuana Grow Eradicated in Sacramento County

Firearms, Poaching and Trash Discovered at Protected Ecological Reserve 

On July 12, wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) shut down a black market marijuana operation on state property in Sacramento County. This was part of a complex investigation conducted by CDFW’s special operations unit.

Support was provided by the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, which included the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Justice, the National Guard and other allied agencies who assisted wildlife officers with the eradication and reclamation efforts.

The illegal grow consisted of two side by side properties: one parcel was owned by CDFW and the other was owned by The Nature Conservancy. Both properties are part of the Cosumnes River Preserve.

“Discovering thousands of illegal marijuana plants on CDFW property and just 25 miles from the State Capitol demonstrates the brazen actions of those involved in the black market marijuana trade,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “There’s no question that operations of this nature prevent the legal cannabis market from thriving. The extra resources provided by Governor Newsom’s administration to shutdown illegal cultivation sites like this one are greatly needed and made this mission possible.”

During the mission, over 15,000 plants were eradicated, 3,000 pounds of processed marijuana was seized, three loaded firearms were confiscated and evidence of a poached deer was discovered. Prior to the operation, wildlife officers also observed the suspects shipping out more than 400 pounds of processed marijuana through a rented U-Haul truck which was also confiscated.

The grow was located in sensitive wildlife habitat. The property is home to hundreds of bird species, including the greater sandhill crane and Swainson’s hawk (both listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act), more than 40 types of fish including state listed steelhead and other wildlife such as the giant garter snake, the western pond turtle, deer, fox and an occasional mountain lion.

Numerous environmental violations were documented, including a sophisticated illegal water diversion, pesticide and petroleum products placed near streams, garbage placed near waterways, habitat destruction and substantially causing environmental harm to public land. Eleven suspects were arrested during the operation. Officers also removed 1,900 pounds of trash from the site through aerial support.

CDFW encourages the public to report illegal cannabis cultivation and environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or texting information to “TIP411” (847411).

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Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891

CDFW Completes Conservation Strategy for Threatened Mohave Ground Squirrel

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its Conservation Strategy for the Mohave Ground Squirrel, a species listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act. The 129-page document, which is available on CDFW’s website, summarizes the available scientific information on the species and lays the foundation for its conservation and recovery in California.

The Mohave ground squirrel, Xerospermophilus mohavensis, is a small day-active rodent endemic to the western Mojave Desert of California. It has one of the smallest geographic ranges of any North American ground squirrel and spends much of the year in underground burrows to avoid the harsh conditions of its desert environment. It is threatened by climate change, habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, and small population size, among other stressors.

CDFW has been engaged in conservation planning for the Mohave ground squirrel since it was listed as Rare in 1971; however, with recent emphasis on development of large-scale renewable energy facilities in California’s desert came recognition that such development could pose additional risks to the species. CDFW finalized the Mohave Ground Squirrel Conservation Strategy to help guide renewable energy and other development projects to ensure they are consistent with the conservation needs of the squirrel.

The document consists of three main parts: a comprehensive list of conservation goals, objectives and measures; background information on the squirrel’s ecology and conservation status; and a summary of actions for the species by the various wildlife and land management agencies with jurisdiction in the species’ geographic range. The document can be considered CDFW’s policy for conservation of the Mohave ground squirrel and may be referenced in making decisions in the environmental review process, funding for habitat protection and restoration activities and prioritizing research and information needs.

The Mohave Ground Squirrel Conservation Strategy may also be used as the foundation for recovery planning for the species. Under newly enacted state law, CDFW may prepare recovery plans for listed species if funding is available.

According to Scott Osborn, CDFW wildlife ecologist and co-author of the document, such planning is an essential next step to help the species persist. “The Strategy provides good guidance, but real recovery of the Mohave ground squirrel requires implementation of specific actions for its conservation. Such actions need to be planned using a comprehensive and scientific process.”

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Media Contacts:
Scott Osborn, CDFW Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 324-3564
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Seeks Information Related to Listing of Bumble Bees

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking information relevant to a proposal to list the Crotch bumble bee, Franklin’s bumble bee, Western bumble bee and Suckley cuckoo bumble bee as endangered species.

In October 2018, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Food Safety submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission to formally list the four species as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The listing petition and CDFW’s petition evaluation described several threats to the survival of the four bumble bee species in California, including direct and indirect impacts associated with habitat loss and alteration, disease, pesticides, competition and small population sizes.

CDFW recommended and the Commission voted to advance the species to candidacy on June 12, 2019. The Commission published findings of this decision on June 28, 2019, triggering a 12-month period during which CDFW will conduct status reviews to inform the Commission’s ultimate decision whether to list the species.

As part of the status review process, CDFW is soliciting information from the public regarding the bumble bees’ 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
Attn: David Wright
1812 Ninth St.
Sacramento, CA 95811

Comments may also be submitted by email to wildlifemgt@wildlife.ca.gov. If submitting comments by email, please include “Bumble Bees” in the subject heading.

All comments received by Aug. 16, 2019, will be evaluated prior to the submittal of CDFW’s final status review reports to the Commission. Once CDFW submits the final status review reports to the Commission, they will be placed on the agenda for discussion at the next available Commission meeting. Comments also will be made available to the public at that time.

Following receipt of CDFW’s status review reports, the Commission will allow a 30-day public comment period prior to taking any action on CDFW’s recommendations.

The listing petition and CDFW’s petition evaluation for the four species are available at https://fgc.ca.gov/CESA#bb.

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Media Contacts:
Erin Chappell, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3685
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

Landowners Invited to Participate in California Waterfowl Habitat Program

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications from landowners for the California Waterfowl Habitat Program (CWHP). The CWHP provides technical guidance and economic incentives to private landowners who agree to manage their properties in accordance with a wetland management plan developed cooperatively by CDFW biologists and participating landowners.

In response to the loss of wetland habitat in California, the Legislature passed the California Waterfowl Habitat Preservation Act in 1987. This Act established the CWHP, a multi-faceted wetland incentive program designed to improve habitat conditions for waterfowl on private lands. Consistent with its primary waterfowl habitat objectives, the program also endeavors to enhance habitat for shorebirds, wading birds and other wetland-dependent species. The program has remained very popular with existing enrollees, but lack of adequate funding has limited CDFW’s ability to enroll new properties since the mid-2000s. The passing of Proposition 68 in 2018 approved $10 million in new funding for the program.

The program is designed to contribute to large-scale conservation objectives by helping private landowners overcome many of the challenges associated with wetland management in California. Approximately two-thirds of the managed wetlands in the Central Valley are privately owned, and many of these landowners are not trained in the science, policy or regulation of wetland management. In addition to guidance offered by CDFW biologists, landowners also receive an incentive payment following the successful implementation of work plans. The program offers $30 per acre for the management of seasonal wetlands ($60/acre in the Tulare basin) and $60 per acre for the management of semi-permanent wetlands statewide.

“Partnerships with private landowners, such as those developed through the California Waterfowl Habitat Program, are critical to ensuring our waterfowl and other wetland dependent species habitat objectives are met,” said CDFW’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat Program Coordinator, Brian Olson. “We truly value the relationships developed with private landowners, and appreciate their efforts in helping provide for the needs of California’s fish and wildlife.”

Landowners have until Aug. 30 to apply. For more information on the program, or to submit an application, please visitwww.wildlife.ca.gov/lands/cwhp/private-lands-programs/waterfowl-habitat.

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Media Contacts: 
Brian Olson, CDFW Comprehensive Wetland Habitat Program, (916) 445-3486 
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Volunteers Needed for Maintenance Day at Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area has scheduled a cleanup and hunting blind maintenance day on Saturday, Aug. 17 from 7 a.m. to noon. The wildlife area consists of Little Dry Creek and Llano Seco in Butte County and Howard Slough in Glenn County.

At last year’s event, wildlife area staff and approximately 20 volunteers cleaned out and brushed up hunting blinds and posted field markers in preparation for the upcoming waterfowl season. Activities this year will include cleaning out and brushing up hunting blinds, installing and painting area signage, and improving mobility-impaired hunting blinds. Volunteers should bring gloves, work boots and sunscreen. Water and insect repellent will be provided, as will a barbecue lunch hosted by the California Waterfowl Association.

Volunteers will meet at 7 a.m. at the wildlife area headquarters located at Howard Slough Wildlife Area, 9256 Highway 162, Butte City (95920). For more information, please call (530) 982-2169.

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Media Contacts:
Tim Hermansen, Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, (530) 982-2169
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988