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

Valley with winding river and creek surrounded by trees.

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Aug. 26, 2020 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $25.3 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 26 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 $5 million grant to the National Wildlife Federation for the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Overpass Crossing in cooperation with the California Department of Transportation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the California State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), the City of Agoura Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to construct a wildlife crossing over U.S. Route 101 to facilitate wildlife migration near Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County.
  • A $350,000 grant to The Nature Conservancy for a cooperative project with CDFW and California State Parks to complete a suite of planning activities to daylight a storm drain and restore multiple habitat types including arroyo, riparian, intermittent wetlands and coastal sage scrub along the Los Angeles River in Los Angeles County.  
  • A $670,000 grant to American Rivers for a cooperative project with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to restore approximately 140 acres of wet meadow habitat in the Pine Creek watershed, located on USFS’s Lassen National Forest approximately 30 miles northwest of Susanville in Lassen County.
  • A $700,000 grant to California State Parks for a cooperative planning project with the California Tahoe Conservancy to complete plans, designs and permits for pier replacement and recreation access improvements at Kings Beach State Recreation Area, located 10 miles northeast of Tahoe City in Placer County.
  • A $700,000 grant to Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District for a cooperative project with SCC and the California Natural Resources Agency to acquire approximately 341 acres of land for the protection of coastal dunes, Sitka spruce and beach pine forest habitats in order to promote the recovery of threatened and endangered species, and provide future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities in the community of Samoa in Humboldt County.
  • A $4 million grant to the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency (SCVHA) and the acceptance of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition grants with the approval to subgrant these federal funds to SCVHA to acquire approximately 1,741 acres of land for the protection and preservation of existing regional wildlife linkages and special status species occurrences, as well as rare serpentine bunchgrass plant communities, grasslands, oak woodlands, and pond and riparian habitat areas within the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan, located west of U.S. Route 101 in Santa Clara County.
  • A $1.08 million grant to SCC for a cooperative project with the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy to acquire approximately 44 acres of land for the protection of nesting and foraging habitat for state-listed Belding’s Savannah sparrow and foraging habitat for California least tern and other sensitive species located in Huntington Beach in Orange County.
  • A $3.5 million grant to The Nature Conservancy for the acquisition in fee of approximately 3,148 acres for the protection of deer, mountain lion and special status species habitat, and to increase protection of regional wildlife habitat corridors in the Tehachapi Mountain Range located near Bakersfield in Kern County.

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

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Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, Wildlife Conservation Board, (916) 445-0137
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

Photo credit: Confluence Meadow by Dave Lass, Trout Unlimited

Flooded rice field

CDFW Now Accepting Proposals for California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for the California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program (CWRHIP). For Fiscal Year 2020-2021, a total of up to $4,058,220 in CWRHIP funds will be available for new two-year agreements under this proposal solicitation notice.

In response to the recent decline of winter-flooded rice acreage in the Central Valley and the ecological importance of this habitat base, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 2348 in September of 2018. AB 2348 established the CWRHIP, which is designed to continue and further encourage the winter-flooding of harvested rice fields in the Central Valley of California. A significant portion of the caloric needs of ducks and migrating shorebirds utilizing the Sacramento Valley are provided by winter-flooded rice fields.

CWRHIP provides economic incentives to landowners or lessees who agree to manage their properties in accordance with a management plan developed in consultation with biologists from CDFW’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat Program. Management plans will require landowners to flood harvested rice fields for a minimum of 70 continuous days during the winter months (October through March). Properties that can maintain water during critical months (January through mid-March) will be given additional points in the ranking process. Properties located within five miles of an active airstrip on a military base or international airport are not eligible to enroll in the program.

The program pays landowners an annual incentive of $15 per acre for the winter-flooding of harvested rice fields. The management requirements of the program will start after the 2020 harvest and continue through early 2022.

The deadline to apply for this program is Sept. 14, 2020 at 4 p.m. The program solicitation, application instructions and other information are available at wildlife.ca.gov/lands/cwhp/private-lands-programs.

CDFW staff will be hosting an online meeting on Thursday, Aug. 27 at 10 a.m. to explain the program requirements and application process and answer questions regarding CWRHIP. For information about how to participate in this meeting, please visit CDFW’s website at wildlife.ca.gov/lands/cwhp/private-lands-programs.

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Media Contacts:
Jeff Kohl, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 373-6610

Kelsey Navarre, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 371-3132
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714