Category Archives: Ecosystem Restoration

CDFW Marks One-Year Anniversary of Nutria Eradication Effort: Biologists Report More Than 400 Invasive Rodents Captured to Date

One year after launching an Incident Command System and a formal effort to eradicate invasive nutria from the state, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reports significant progress in combatting the destructive, South American rodents, though much work remains.

In the early 1900s, nutria were imported and farmed in California for the fur trade. Following the market collapse, escaped and released nutria established small populations that were eventually eradicated by the late 1970s. In 2017, nutria were again discovered within the San Joaquin Valley.

Nutria pose a “triple threat” to California’s future as a top-rated agricultural pest, a destroyer of critical wetlands needed by native wildlife, and a public safety risk as their destructive burrowing jeopardizes the state’s water delivery and flood control infrastructure. CDFW has formed partnerships with both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to survey and eradicate nutria from the state.

To date:

  • CDFW and USDA have taken or confirmed the take of 410 nutria in five counties – 330 from Merced County, 65 from San Joaquin County, 12 from Stanislaus County, two from Mariposa County and one from Fresno County. Nutria have also been confirmed in Tuolumne County.
  • The eradication efforts have prioritized the one known nutria population in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in order to limit their spread and impact on California’s most important water resource and the heart of the state’s water delivery and infrastructure. Of the 65 nutria taken from San Joaquin County, 64 were captured within Walthall Slough near Manteca. Survey crews have not detected nutria elsewhere in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
  • Nutria are a semi-aquatic species never far from water. CDFW has identified approximately 1.8 million acres of habitat suitable for nutria in California, mostly in the state’s central regions. CDFW so far has assessed more than 300,000 acres in three counties: Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin.
  • In suitable nutria habitat, CDFW and its partners set up trail cameras to monitor for nutria presence and deploy traps to catch the nutria once their presence has been confirmed. Over the past year, the project has set up 487 camera stations, conducted more than 1,600 camera checks and deployed 995 trap sets for a total of 12,930 trap nights.
  • CDFW’s eradication efforts have the broad support of the state’s agricultural community. As a top-rated agricultural pest, nutria threaten California’s nearly $50 billion agricultural industry. San Joaquin Valley farmers have donated five tons of sweet potatoes to use as bait to trap nutria.
  • Nutria have been documented on federal, state and private property. Gaining access to private property is key to eradication efforts and to prevent isolated populations from re-infesting the state. More than 2,400 private property owners have granted CDFW written permission to survey and trap nutria on their land, which CDFW does at no cost to property owners.
  • CDFW has received widespread public support for its eradication efforts. CDFW’s Invasive Species “hotline” and corresponding e-mail account has received 357 nutria reports from the public over the past year. While most of these have turned out to be false reports – either sightings of other wildlife mistaken for nutria or reports that lack enough information to confirm – public reporting will continue to be important to determine the full extent of the infestation. When possible, reports should be accompanied by photos and videos. CDFW’s toll-free reporting hotline is (866) 440-9530. The e-mail address to report nutria sightings is invasives@wildlife.ca.gov. CDFW’s nutria eradication webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/nutria offers references for distinguishing nutria from other similar aquatic animals.
  • Public education and outreach are key components of CDFW’s eradication efforts. In addition to numerous nutria presentations in front of scientific, agricultural and community organizations, CDFW has partnered with the Delta Stewardship Council to produce a nutria identification pocket guide. The guide is available at http://deltacouncil.ca.gov/nutria-pocket-guide.
  • CDFW has secured more than $3 million in state and federal grants to support nutria eradication. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy has awarded CDFW $1.2 million over three years; California’s Wildlife Conservation Board has awarded CDFW $600,000 over three years; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program has awarded CDFW $1.25 million over three years.
  • Future CDFW nutria efforts include using detection dogs to help locate remnant nutria or confirm their absence. CDFW also is in the early stages of developing a “Judas nutria” project where surgically sterilized nutria, which are social animals, are outfitted with radio telemetry collars and released back into the environment to lead biologists to other nutria.
  • CDFW’s eradication efforts are modeled after those in the Chesapeake Bay in the 2000s. That ongoing effort is led by the federal government and has removed more than 14,000 nutria from 250,000 acres in the Delmarva Peninsula. Though nutria are established in more than a dozen U.S. states, including Washington, Oregon, and, most notably, Louisiana, the Chesapeake Bay effort remains the only successful, large-scale nutria eradication in U.S. history.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

 

CDFW Approves Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has approved the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP). CDFW’s NCCP program takes a broad-based ecosystem approach to planning for the protection and perpetuation of biological diversity. It is the state-level complement to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s HCP program. The issuance of an NCCP permit ensures regional protection of plants, animals and their habitats, while allowing compatible and appropriate economic activity.

The Yolo HCP/NCCP is the 16th NCCP permit issued by CDFW since the original NCCP Act was created in 1991, and is the third NCCP approved in northern California. Altogether, the 16 permitted NCCPs will permanently conserve over one million acres in California. The Yolo HCP/NCCP alone will conserve more than 32,000 acres of habitat for 12 covered species, including Swainson’s hawk (state threatened), giant garter snake (state and federally threatened) and the tricolored blackbird (which the Fish and Game Commission recently voted to list as state threatened).

The Yolo HCP/NCCP is also the first NCCP to focus on conserving working landscapes (primarily agriculture) to meet species conservation needs. The approved HCP/NCCP will allow for streamlined species permitting at the local level by Yolo County, City of Davis, City of West Sacramento, City of Winters and City of Woodland for infrastructure and development activities that are consistent with the plan.

The final Yolo HCP/NCCP is posted online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/planning/nccp/plans/yolo.

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Media Contacts: 
Jennifer Nguyen, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 365-5570 
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988 

CDFW Awards $4.2 Million for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of three projects to restore wetlands that sequester greenhouse gases (GHGs) and provide other ecological co-benefits.

The awards, totaling $4.2 million, were made under CDFW’s 2017 Wetlands Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program Proposal Solicitation Notice.

The Wetlands Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program focuses on projects with measurable objectives that will lead to GHG reductions in wetlands and watersheds while providing co-benefits such as enhancing fish and wildlife habitat, protecting and improving water quality and quantity, and helping California adapt to climate change. Wetlands have high carbon sequestration rates that can store carbon for decades.

“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to fund wetland restoration projects while directly addressing climate resiliency and furthering the science of carbon sequestration,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Wetlands play a vital role in our state’s water storage and as natural carbon sinks, provide significant other benefits.”

Projects approved for funding are:

  • Van Norden Meadow Restoration Project ($1,948,803 to the South Yuba River Citizens League). The Van Norden Meadow Restoration Project is a unique opportunity to advance the understanding of multiple benefits that meadow restoration projects provide through a collaborative monitoring and restoration program. The project proposes to restore 485 acres of meadow habitat and conduct monitoring to address specific uncertainties about how meadow restoration benefits meadow hydrology, ecology, biology, carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas cycling, and increase our understanding of the vulnerability of meadows to climate change.
  • Elkhorn Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration: Hester Phase II ($1,596,779 to Elkhorn Slough Foundation). Elkhorn Slough, one of the largest estuaries in California, contains the state’s largest salt marshes south of San Francisco Bay. The slough provides important habitat for a broad range of resident and migratory birds, invertebrates, fish, marine mammals and other wildlife, and plays a crucial role in the local estuarine and nearshore food web. The project includes restoration of an entire cross section of coastal ecosystem from carbon sequestering native oyster beds, 30 acres of historically diked and drained coastal wetlands, and five acres adjacent vegetated buffer. Building upon the success of Hester Phase I, the project will enhance sophisticated GHG science and monitoring as well as investigating the novel GHG mitigation strategy of converting plant waste to biochar as a soil amendment.
  • Ecosystem and Community Resiliency in the Sierra Nevada: Restoration of the Clover Valley Ranch ($680,974 to The Sierra Fund). The overarching goal of this project is to improve climate resilience at the ecosystem and community level in Red Clover Valley. Ecosystem resiliency is defined as the reestablishment of hydrologic function and mesic vegetation, while community resiliency is defined as long-term engagement and capacity building of residents of the region, including the Mountain Maidu Tribe. This project leverages Natural Resources Conservation Service implementation including construction of grade control structures, beaver dam analogues and revegetation, and proposes to evaluate the effectiveness of restoration for improving climate resilience. The on-the-ground activities will result in GHG sequestration benefits and environmental and economic co-benefits for people and species of the region, while monitoring will ensure that benefits are quantified, contributing to climate-based understanding of Sierra Nevada meadows.

CDFW’s Wetlands Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities. The cap-and-trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling and much more.

More information about the CDFW program can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/watersheds/greenhouse-gas-reduction.

For more information, please visit the California Climate Investments website at www.caclimateinvestments.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 445-1285
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

CDFW Awards $13.2 Million for Fisheries Habitat Restoration and Forest Legacy Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 41 projects that will receive funding for the restoration, enhancement and protection of anadromous salmonid habitat in California watersheds, as well as forest legacy restoration.

The grants, which total $13.2 million, are distributed through CDFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). They include $994,421 allocated for timber legacy restoration projects and approximately $12.2 million for anadromous salmonid restoration projects. FRGP monies come from a combination of state sources and the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.

“We are excited to fund this round of projects, and to support the restoration and protection of habitat critical to our salmon and steelhead.” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “This year’s devastating wildfires and looming drought continue to put our fisheries at risk, making the work of our stakeholders that much more important.”

In response to the 2018 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Grant Solicitation, CDFW received 89 proposals requesting more than $37 million in funding. All proposals underwent an initial administrative review. Those that passed were then evaluated through a technical review process that included reviews by CDFW and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists.

The 41 approved projects will further the objectives of state and federal fisheries 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 State Wildlife Action Plan, as well as addressing limiting factors specified in state and federal recovery plans.

The list of approved projects is available on the FRGP website.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 445-1285
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Now Accepting Proposals for Ecosystem Restoration and Protection Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for ecosystem restoration and protection projects under its 2019 Proposal Solicitation Notice. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2019-2020, a total of $53 million will be made available for these grants, which are funded through Propositions 1 and 68.

Funding will be allocated according to a diverse set of priorities for projects statewide, including:

  • $24 million for the Proposition 1 Watershed Restoration Grant Program;
  • $7 million for the Proposition 1 Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program;
  • $4.4 million for Proposition 68 Rivers and Streams Restoration Grants;
  • $8.8 million for Proposition 68 Southern California Steelhead Grants; and
  • $8.8 million for Proposition 68 Habitat Improvement Grants.

This is the fifth of 10 planned solicitations under CDFW’s Proposition 1 Grant Programs and the first under Proposition 68.

“As we reach the halfway point in funding projects through Prop. 1, we are excited to stand up new programs under Prop. 68 and extend our reach to more areas of critical need,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “With these grant programs, we can sustain ongoing efforts while jump-starting new ones.”

The deadline to apply is Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018 at 4 p.m. Proposals must be submitted online at https://watershedgrants.wildlife.ca.gov.

The solicitation, application instructions and other information about the grant programs are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/watersheds/restoration-grants.

Approved projects will contribute to the objectives of California Water Action Plan and State Wildlife Action Plan, the Delta Plan, California EcoRestore and the fulfillment of CDFW’s mission.

Approved by California voters in November 2014, Proposition 1 provides funds to implement the three broad objectives of the California Water Action Plan: establishing more reliable water supplies, restoring important species and habitat and creating a more resilient, sustainably managed water resources system (water supply, water quality, flood protection and environment) that can better withstand inevitable and unforeseen pressures in the coming decades.

The California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018 (Proposition 68), approved by California voters in June 2018, provides funds projects that improve a community’s ability to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change; improve and protect coastal and rural economies, agricultural viability, wildlife corridors, or habitat; develop future recreational opportunities; or enhance drought tolerance, landscape resilience and water retention.

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

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