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.

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

Rush Ranch, landscape photo

CDFW Awards $37 Million for Ecosystem and Watershed Restoration, Protection and Scientific Study Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 40 multi-benefit ecosystem restoration and protection projects to receive funding under its Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 grant programs.

The awards, totaling $37 million, were made under CDFW’s 2020 Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 Grant Opportunities Proposal Solicitation Notice.

Of the $37 million, approximately $24 million was awarded to 19 projects statewide through the Proposition 1 Watershed Restoration Grant Program. Approximately $7 million was awarded to seven projects through the Proposition 1 Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program to projects that directly benefit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Approximately $6 million was awarded to 14 projects through the Proposition 68 Rivers and Streams Grant Program.

While California faces numerous challenges related to COVID-19 (coronavirus), CDFW will continue to administer its grant programs and will implement awarded grant projects while working with grantees to incorporate necessary accommodations under these circumstances.

“We are all currently going to get through this public health emergency together. In the longer term, this year’s awards represent a visionary effort to invest in our ecosystems statewide which will outlast our current challenges,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “These awards represent our focus on continuing necessary support for our restoration partners in local government, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations and communities who support these efforts, which is why we wanted to keep this business going in this difficult time with the announcement of these awards.”

The awarded projects represent priorities outlined in the solicitation, as well as the California Water Action Plan, State Wildlife Action Plan, Sacramento Valley Salmon Resiliency Strategy, Delta Plan, California EcoRestore, Safeguarding California Plan, the California Biodiversity Initiative and the fulfillment of CDFW’s mission.

The following projects were approved for funding through the Proposition 1 Watershed Grant Program.

Acquisition Projects:

  • Wagner Forest Conservation Easement ($5,000,000 to Northcoast Regional Land Trust)
  • Ocean Song Conservation Project – Myers Property Acquisition ($2,423,431 to LandPaths)
  • Snell Valley Ranch Conservation Easement ($1,337,500 to Land Trust of Napa County)
  • Mountain Meadows Conservation Project-Phase 2 ($1,342,449 to The Trust for Public Land)
  • Wright Ranch Conservation Easement Acquisition Project ($821,393 to Sierra Foothill Conservancy)
  • Butte Creek Water Right Acquisition ($791,892 to Friends of Butte Creek)

Implementation Projects:

  • Trout Creek Restoration Reaches 4 and 5 ($2,310,000 to Town of Truckee)
  • Napa River Restoration: Oakville to Oak Knoll, Group D ($2,235,000 to County of Napa)
  • Bear Creek Lower Meadow Restoration ($1,357,606 to Truckee River Watershed Council)
  • Cochran Creek (Humboldt Bay) Fish Passage and Habitat Rehabilitation Implementation Project ($996,986 to California Trout, Inc.)
  • Llano Seco/M&T Ranch Cone Fish Screen Project ($895,701 to Family Water Alliance)
  • Middle Stewart Canyon Creek Restoration Project ($864,317 to City of Ojai)
  • Escondido Creek Watershed Invasive Plant Control, Restoration and Fire Prevention Program ($552,097 to The Escondido Creek Conservancy)

Planning Projects:

  • Golden Trout Wilderness – Kern Plateau Meadows Restoration Planning Project ($834,799 to Trout Unlimited)
  • Atascadero Creek Sedimentation Analysis and Fish Passage Restoration 65 Percent Design Project ($551,220 to Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District)
  • Making the Most of the Urban Landspace: Habitat Restoration and Stormwater Banking for Coho Recovery and Watershed Health in the San Geronimo Valley (536,091 to Salmon Protection and Watershed Network)
  • Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Invasive Species Removal and Restoration Plan ($520,168 to County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation)
  • Southern Los Cerritos Wetlands Restoration Planning ($405,828 to Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority)
  • The Alamo and New Rivers Riparian Habitat Restoration Planning and Permitting Project ($321,332 to River Partners)

The following projects were approved for funding through the Proposition 1 Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program.

Implementation Projects:

  • Lower Walnut Creek Restoration Project ($1,350,000 to Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District)

Planning Projects:

  • Analysis of opportunities for island-wide improvements that includes a mosaic of multiple land uses for subsidence reversal, sustainable agricultural practices, carbon sequestration, water quality and habitat restoration ($1,131,942 to Metropolitan Water District of Southern California)

Scientific Studies:

  • Interior Delta Export Effects Study ($1,689,432 to State Water Contractors)
  • Ecosystem Engineering Impacts of Water Primrose in the Delta ($952,844 to University of California, Merced)
  • Identifying Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Bloom Toxins in Delta Invertebrates: Implications for Native Species and Human Health ($823,415 to San Francisco Estuary Institute)
  • Impacts of storm-driven contaminants on larval delta smelt and the community scale adaptive capacity of prey items to handle those stressors ($659,991 to University of California, Davis)
  • Willow Bend Floodplain Monitoring ($338,282 to River Partners)

The following projects were approved for funding through the Proposition 68 Rivers and Streams Grant Program.

Implementation Projects:

  • East Fork Scott – Meadow Enhancement and Large Woody Debris Addition ($92,299 to U.S. Forest Service – Klamath National Forest)
  • Riprap and Ditch Removal to Restore Merced River Riparian and Meadow Habitat ($293,933 to Yosemite National Park)
  • Restoring Riparian Habitat for Native Aquatic Species in Southern Sierra Watersheds ($264,442 to Yosemite National Park)

Planning Projects:

    • Final Fish Passage Design for the I-5 and Metrolink barriers in Trabuco Creek ($1,499,499 to California Trout, Inc.)
    • Russian River Floodplain Restoration Planning Grant ($717,900 to Endangered Habitats Conservancy)
    • Final Design for Santa Margarita River Fish Passage Project and Bridge Replacement ($714,865 to California Trout, Inc.)
    • Lower Sutter Bypass Anadromous Fish Habitat Restoration Planning ($500,000 to River Partners)
    • Upper Rose Bar Restoration Project: Planning ($365,157 to South Yuba River Citizens League)
    • Lakeville Creek Restoration Project, Phase 1 Planning ($332,495 to Sonoma Land Trust)
    • Lagunitas Creek Watershed Enhancement Plan ($300,000 to Marin Municipal Water District)
    • Advancing Fish Passage in the Little Shasta Watershed ($292,405 to California Trout, Inc.)
    • Sulphur Creek Fish Passage Improvement Project – 100 Percent Designs ($220,000 to California Trout, Inc.)

 

  • Chadd Creek Fish Passage Enhancement Planning Project ($189,780 to Humboldt County Public Works
  • Tenmile Creek Bridge Design Project ($169,945 to Eel River Watershed Improvement Group (ERWIG))

 

General information about CDFW’s Prop. 1 and Prop. 68 Restoration Grant Programs, as well as a schedule for upcoming grant solicitations, once available, can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/grants.

Funding for these projects comes from Prop. 1 and Prop. 68 bond funds, a portion of which are allocated annually through the California State Budget Act. More information about Prop. 1 and Prop. 68 can be found on the California Natural Resources Agency website.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grant Branch, (916) 216-7848
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

CDFW Pollution Patrols Result in Arrests, Cleanup of Dry Creek Dump Site

A two-year effort by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to monitor a popular northern California “dumping ground” for hazardous materials has been very successful, resulting in 34 citations, multiple towed vehicles and three felony arrests over the last 24 months.

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Since early 2018, CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division has received many complaints regarding illegal dumping of petroleum products, garbage and various hazardous materials in and around Dry Creek near the border of Placer and Sacramento counties. This remote area, which is home to many fish and wildlife species, was regularly being used as a trash dumping site for everything from broken household appliances to hazardous waste and stolen cars.

“We set up a surveillance patrol one night, simply hiding nearby and waiting to see if someone would come by and dump their waste,” said lead investigator Warden Ryan Hanson of CDFW’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response. “At first we weren’t sure if the effort would pay off … but it paid off immediately.”

After their initial success, Warden Hanson and fellow wildlife officers set up 19 more pollution patrols in the area. It quickly became clear that the location was a hotspot for illegal activity, and officers rarely had a dull night.

Not all of the law enforcement actions taken were pollution related. During one of the patrols, wildlife officers observed a vehicle stop briefly right in the middle of the road before driving off.  When the vehicle left, Warden Hanson drove to the spot expecting to find some type of garbage strewn about. What he found was worse. Two dogs had been ejected from the vehicle and abandoned. Muzzles and leashes were still attached to both dogs, which would have prevented them from eating had they not been found by the officers. Warden Hanson stayed with the dogs while Warden Perry Schultz  sped after and detained the suspect. With the help of Placer County animal control officers and staff from the Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic, the dogs received veterinary care right away. While one did not survive due to its extremely poor condition, the other responded to veterinary treatment and recovered over the following months, eventually being adopted into a loving home. The individual who dumped the dogs pled to a felony charge of cruelty to animals. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, a 120-day suspended jail sentence and 40 hours of community service. He must also pay $4,000 restitution and has been given a 10-year ban on owning any dogs or pets.

Other notable cases include three separate instances of negligent discharge of a firearm, where officers witnessed suspects shooting from their vehicles in the direction of surrounding residences. In all three instances, officers stopped the suspects and took them into custody after confiscating the weapon. A total of four firearms were involved – all of which were either stolen or illegally possessed.

Yet another case involved a fire that was started near the illegal dump site. Wildlife officers had to deploy fire extinguishers and summon help from the fire department to keep the flames from approaching a residence nearby.

Throughout the duration of this effort, wildlife officers watched illegal activity unfolding right in front of them. In the dead of night, they watched individuals dispose of used motor oil and other petroleum products, paint, paint thinner and other hazardous materials, as well as tires, mattresses, construction materials and other waste. Much of the dumping occurred in Dry Creek or ditches that emptied into Dry Creek. In each case the violators were contacted, told to remove the trash they had dumped and issued citations with a written promise to appear in court for the offense.

“It’s never ok to use public property as your personal landfill,” said Warden Hanson. “It was gratifying to catch these individuals in the act, to stop them and send a message that this behavior is criminal and extremely damaging to the environment. It will not be tolerated.”

CDFW thanks the Sacramento and Placer County District Attorney’s Offices for their effort to prosecute these cases.

More information about how to properly dispose of hazardous waste in Placer County or Sacramento County can be found online.

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

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Media Contacts:
Warden Ryan Hanson, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (805) 440-2593
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095

Adult volunteer helping a child learn to fish at Fred Hall Show

CDFW to Meet with Public, Sell Licenses and Warden Stamps at Central Valley Sportsmen’s Boat & RV Show

Bakersfield-area residents can purchase 2020 fishing and hunting licenses, validations and report cards directly from California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) staff at the 43rd annual Central Valley Sportsmen’s Boat & RV Show scheduled March 13-15 at the Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield.

Attendees can learn how to become a wildlife officer by speaking with CDFW wildlife officers at the law enforcement trailer. The trailer features fish and wildlife mounts, and a free laser-shot activity. The 2020 Warden Stamp will also be available for purchase. Warden stamp sales help fund CDFW’s K-9 program and support purchases of enforcement equipment.

Also on display will be a restored 1925 Dodge truck once used by CDFW for transporting hatchery fish, along with a modern fish-transporting truck, where attendees can learn about historic and current fish-stocking procedures. As in previous years, there will be a free youth fishing pond stocked with rainbow trout provided by CDFW.

The show will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14. On Sunday, March 15, the show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

General admission is $12, with a Friday-only senior admission of $7. Children 12 and under are free.

For more information, please visit www.calshows.com.

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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.

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