Category Archives: Habitat Conservation

CDFW Monitors Effect of Severe Drought on Wildlife

Stream- and Wetland-Dependent Species Most at Risk

Amphibian, reptile, bird and mammal populations that depend on freshwater marsh, streamside habitat and wet meadows are struggling most to endure the drought that has gripped California for more than four years, according to a comprehensive assessment released today by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

CDFW biologists ranked the vulnerability of the state’s terrestrial species and gave top priority for additional monitoring and assistance to 48 species. The greatest concentrations of these high-risk populations are found in Southern California coastal, mountain and valley regions, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Mojave Desert, Central Valley and the southern Cascade mountain range.

The majority of these “Priority 1” species are found in freshwater marsh, riparian and wet meadow habitats. The species include the mountain yellow-legged frog, the giant garter snake, tricolored blackbird and the Amargosa vole.

CDFW researchers analyzed and assessed the vulnerability of more than 358 land species. Scientists then classified them into Priority I (most vulnerable) and Priority II (less vulnerable) categories. All of the species evaluated were threatened, endangered or were otherwise considered species of special concern before the drought impacted them.

CDFW also determined the San Joaquin Valley, southern Sierra Nevada, western Mojave Desert and Owens Valley areas experienced the least amount of normal average rainfall during this extended drought. As a result, wildlife in these regions struggle most finding resources to survive.

“While many species are mobile and able to deal with periods of extended drought, some are more vulnerable than others,” said CDFW Program Manager Karen Miner. “Each species plays an important role in the overall health of the ecosystem and contributes something that impacts other animals in the food chain. It’s important to recognize that the effects of extended or more frequent extreme droughts may not be immediately apparent for some species.”

CDFW is taking action to help the most vulnerable species. Funding for these projects comes from several sources including emergency drought response funds provided in the current state budget, California’s Threatened and Endangered Species tax check-off program, federal grant programs, and contributions from a number of universities and other agencies working to save these rare animals.

  • In the Sierra Nevada and Northern California mountain ranges, amphibians such as yellow-legged frogs, Yosemite toads and Cascades frogs are struggling. Some species’ tadpoles require multiple years to develop into juveniles and lack of suitable habitat has eliminated several years of breeding effort at once. Removal of non-native predatory fish from select areas as well as assistance with disease intervention, translocations and reintroductions are underway to improve their chances of long-term survival.
  • In the Mojave Desert, researchers identified the Amargosa vole as a species of great concern. Voles play an important role as a prey species and were on the verge of extinction because their habitat had dried up. Juveniles were rescued and taken into captivity to establish a breeding population. Once suitable habitat is secured or restored, the voles will be released to the wild.
  • In southern Santa Cruz and northern Monterey counties, monitoring of the endangered Santa Cruz long-toed salamander revealed that over the last three years the breeding ponds dried up before the larvae could metamorphose into juveniles that are capable of surviving out of water. CDFW and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service salvaged hundreds of larvae on a property jointly managed by the two agencies. The salamanders were raised in captivity and released back at the site after restoration was completed. Follow-up monitoring is ongoing.
  • In the San Joaquin Valley, biologists are working with UC Berkeley, Humboldt State University and other organizations to save the giant kangaroo rat, a keystone species that serves as prey or provides habitat for several other listed animals. Kangaroo rats do not require direct water and get what they need from seeds. After several years without precipitation, seed availability was diminished and the population plummeted. As a result, the threatened and endangered San Joaquin kit fox is also struggling because their primary prey is disappearing. Researchers are studying population responses to food resource availability to determine how best to intervene to save these species.

California has more native species and the greatest number of endemic species than any other state in the nation with approximately 68 amphibian species, 85 reptile species, 429 bird species and 185 mammal species, many that occur nowhere else in the world. Identifying and saving at risk wildlife will secure the future for other populations in the years to come.

View the full report.

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

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It’s Easier than Ever to Pre-order a Salton Sea Specialty License Plate

SaltonSeaPlate.com_hi_res04The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) just made it easier to pre-order a Salton Sea specialty license plate online using a credit card. The new online payment option at http://saltonseaplate.com/ replaces the need to fill out a hard copy and mail it in.

Funds raised from the sale of the plates help to restore the Salton Sea’s air quality, wildlife habitat and precious water.

Under the Department of Motor Vehicle’s rules regarding the issuance of specialty license plates, 7,500 specialty plates must be pre-ordered by Jan. 30, 2017, before they can be produced and distributed.

The Salton Sea is one of the world’s largest inland seas and at 227 feet below sea level, it is one of the lowest spots on earth. Once a thriving recreation area, the health of the sea is now in decline, with water level dropping and salinity rising.

However, due to its location along the most important flyway in North America, it still provides critical habitat for more than 400 species of resident and migrating birds. The sea also sustains an abundant population of tilapia, which are critical for the many fish eating birds such as pelicans and cormorants.

Funds raised from the specialty plates will support the Salton Sea Ecosystem Restoration Program, a coordinated effort among the California State Legislature, various federal, state and local agencies, stakeholders and the general public. To view current and proposed restoration projects, please visit http://www.water.ca.gov/saltonsea/.

To pre-order your Salton Sea specialty license plate, please visit http://saltonseaplate.com/ and be one of the first to Save the Sea!

Media Contact: Carol Singleton, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8962

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Wildlife Conservation Board Approves Proposition 1 Water Projects

The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) has approved the first projects to be awarded funding through the Proposition 1 California Streamflow Enhancement Program (CSFEP). At its Feb. 18 meeting, the WCB unanimously approved 24 staff-recommended projects, for a total cost of $21 million. Located in more than 11 counties, the projects will benefit diverse areas across the state

Funded by the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, the specific purpose of CSFEP is to address environmental challenges as they relate to streamflow. While improving streamflow most immediately benefits aquatic and riparian species, the environmental changes ultimately enrich peripheral plants and animals as well.

“It’s an auspicious day as we award funding for the state’s first-ever streamflow enhancement program,” WCB Chairman and California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Proposition 1 had overwhelming support from California’s voters for these kinds of projects.

WCB expects to solicit the next round of grants during the summer of 2016. In the interim, WCB staff will offer potential applicants a workshop on crafting a successful project proposal

“Based upon the suite of projects the board approved on Feb. 18, I am excited about the future of the CSFEP,” WCB Executive Director John Donnelly said. “I am particularly pleased with the number of quality projects approved during our first round and I am looking forward to working with our partners to improve habitats statewide.”

Project descriptions and funding can be found at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/filehandler.ashx?documentid=116601.

To learn more about the WCB, please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

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

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Feb. 24 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $14 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 17 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 state 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 $410,000 grant to the County of Fresno for a project to extend an existing boat launch and provide shade pavilions for boaters in the City of Shaver Lake on privately owned land, approximately 45 miles northeast of the City of Fresno.

$282,720 for the acquisition in fee of approximately 185 acres of land by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the protection of core wildlife linkages and endangered species habitat, located near the community of Jamul in San Diego County.

  • A grant of up to $3.5 million to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) under the California Forest Legacy Program Act of 2007, to assist with the acquisition of three separate conservation easements, totaling approximately 15,620 acres. The easements will protect significant forest, natural, ecological and open space conservation values on lands located near Willits in Mendocino County.
  • A $407,000 grant to the California Rangeland Trust for a cooperative project with the Natural Resource Conservation Services to acquire a conservation easement over approximately 1,547 acres of land for the protection of oak woodlands, deer and mountain lion habitat, watersheds and wildlife corridors located in Bear Valley in Colusa County.
  • A $332,500 grant to the California Rangeland Trust for another cooperative project with the Natural Resource Conservation Services to acquire a conservation easement over approximately 2,507 acres of land for the protection of oak woodlands, deer and mountain lion habitat, watersheds and wildlife corridors located in Bear Valley in Colusa County.
  • A $1 million grant to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for a cooperative project with the California State Coastal Conservancy and the Santa Clara River Trustee Council to remove non-native invasive plants and restore riparian habitat, on TNC’s Hanson property, located two miles southwest of the City of Santa Paula in Ventura County
  • A $3.3 million grant to the San Diego Unified Port District for a cooperative project with the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways to replace the Shelter Island Boat Ramp, located on land held and maintained in a public trust by the District within the City of San Diego.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.
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Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels,

CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-2420

CDFW Awards $16.7 Million to Fisheries Habitat Restoration, Forest Legacy and Drought Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 67 projects that will receive funding for coastal salmon and steelhead habitat restoration, response to the statewide drought and forest legacy restoration.

The grants, which total $16,720,061, are distributed through CDFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP) and include approximately $661,000 awarded to drought restoration projects, $2.5 million awarded for timber legacy restoration projects and $13.4 million for anadromous salmonid restoration projects. FRGP monies come from a combination of state sources and the federal Pacific Coast Salmon Restoration Fund.
 

In response to the February 2015 FRGP solicitation, CDFW received 143 proposals requesting more than $45 million in funding. The drought solicitation was subsequently released in June and 25 proposals were received requesting approximately $2.5 million. All proposals underwent an initial administrative review and those that passed were evaluated through a technical review process that included reviews by CDFW and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists. 

The 67 approved projects will further the objectives of the state and federal recovery plans, including removing barriers to fish migration, restoring riparian habitat, monitoring of listed populations, and creating a more resilient and sustainably managed water resources system (e.g., water supply, water quality and habitat) that can better withstand drought conditions. These projects further the goals of California’s Water Action Plan and CDFW’s recently approved and awarded State Wildlife Action Plan. 

The list of approved projects can be found on the FRGP website.

Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937
Patty Forbes, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 327-8840
Kevin Shaffer, 
CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8841