March 2021 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to adhere to all safety protocols including physical distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing.

Wildlife areas, ecological reserves and other properties may be closed due to wildfire damage. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip.

1 — California Invasive Species Action Week Youth Art Contest Opens. Students in grades 2-12 are invited to submit artwork on the theme, “Be an Invasive Species Detective!” All types of media are encouraged! Submit entries electronically by May 5, 2021. Find complete information at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/invasives/action-week/poster-contest. Winners will be announced during California Invasive Species Action Week in June. Please send any questions to invasives@wildlife.ca.gov.

1 Rockfish Fishery Opens for Boat-based Anglers in the Southern Management Area, Point Conception to the Mexico border. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/groundfish-summary#south.  

2 — Cutting Green Tape Restoration Permitting Workshop, 1 to 4 p.m. CDFW will host an online permitting workshop providing an overview of restoration permitting solutions, including new coordinated Cutting Green Tape permitting strategies. The workshop will cover the Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Act, the new Restoration Management Permit and other restoration permitting options, as well as an overview of options for complying with the California Environmental Quality Act when developing restoration projects. The workshop will also present case studies to explore restoration permitting pathways for different project types. Following the restoration permitting workshop, CDFW’s Landscape Conservation Planning Program will provide an overview of how CDFW’s landscape conservation tools to preserve larger areas of higher habitat quality and to enhance habitat connectivity can be used to further restoration. No registration is required. For more information on accessing the workshop, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/grants.

4 — Free Online Cannabis Permitting Workshop, 9 to 11 a.m. CDFW and state partners are hosting a free online commercial cannabis cultivation permitting workshop for new and existing commercial cannabis cultivators, consultants and other interested parties. The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis will provide an overview of the state’s cannabis cultivation licensing program. CDFW will cover permitting, use of the online notification system (epims.wildlife.ca.gov/index.do) and how to reduce environmental impacts. The State Water Board will review the cannabis policy, permitting process and other important information. Other state agencies will also be present. To attend, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/cannabis/permitting and click on the workshop link. No registration is required.

6 — Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Environmental Science Virtual Workshop, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). The reserve presents a hands-on environmental science workshop for elementary school teachers through a combination of virtual lessons and field work. Teachers will learn about the GLOBE monitoring program, engage in inquiry-based lessons and take home new hands-on activities. For the full workshop schedule and to register, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/education-program/teacher-development.

16 California Fish and Game Commission Marine Resources Committee Meeting, time to be determined. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2021.

17 — Last Day of California Spiny Lobster Recreational and Commercial Fishing Season Statewide. Recreational lobster report card data can be reported at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/customersearch/begin. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/lobster.  

17 — Last Day of Kellet’s Whelk Recreational and Commercial Fishing Season Statewide. For more information on Kellet’s whelk, please visit marinespecies.wildlife.ca.gov/kellet%E2%80%99s-whelk.

17 Public Workshop for the Lower American River Conservancy Program’s 2021 Proposal Solicitation Notice. This will be a virtual workshop using Microsoft Teams. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

20 — Additional Spring Wild Turkey Season Opens for Hunters with Junior Hunting Licenses (extending through March 21). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

24 — Teachers on the Reserve Virtual Workshop, 3:30 to 5 p.m. A virtual introduction for K-12 teachers to the habitats and wildlife at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve. This presentation will deepen participants’ knowledge of the Slough’s ecological and cultural history and introduce virtual ways to explore the reserve. To register for this free event, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/education-program/teacher-development.  

27 — General Spring Wild Turkey Season Opens (extending through May 5). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

31 Pre-applications Due for WCB’s California Riparian Habitat Conservation Program 2021 Call for Concepts. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/riparian.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916)
322-8907

Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days Offered Excellent Opportunities

Lauryn Ash, 2nd lieutenant with the California Air National Guard, participated in her first duck hunt during the Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days weekend. An 18-year U.S. Air Force Veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Ash was hosted on her hunt by the Frog Pond Duck Club in Los Banos

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) conducted its first Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days recently, providing more than 650 veterans and active duty military the opportunity to hunt on state and federal managed public hunting areas. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area near Gridley and the Wister Unit of the Imperial Valley Wildlife Area near the Salton Sea hosted the most hunters over the two days. Gray Lodge hunters averaged 5.1 waterfowl on Saturday while the Wister Unit hunters averaged 3.5. Hunting results for all CDFW managed hunting areas are posted at wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Waterfowl#877772-hunt-results.

“Each of us at CDFW express our appreciation for the work and sacrifice many of our veterans made and continue to make,” said Stafford Lehr, Deputy Director of CDFW’s Wildlife and Fisheries Division. “Opening our wildlife areas and providing veterans and active duty personnel a special waterfowl hunting opportunity was not only a pleasure, but a chance to give something back for their exceptional service to our country.” 

Once the Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days dates were set, a coordinated effort took place among state and federal agencies, private organizations and duck clubs to provide veterans and military personnel with hunting opportunity. CDFW opened more than a dozen of its most popular waterfowl areas for these special hunt days. California Waterfowl (CWA) opened its Grizzly Island Ranch, Butte Creek Ranch and other properties. CWA reached out to members and cooperating partners to provide places for 60 veterans to hunt.

Duck clubs like The Members Duck Club near the Salton Sea and Mound Farms in the Yolo Bypass welcomed veterans for the Veterans and Active Military Personnel  Waterfowl Hunting Days. Club members accompanied veterans out to the blinds, helped them find their blind in the dark and set out decoys. CWA Volunteer Veterans Hunt Coordinator Mike Peeters said, “There is tremendous community outreach among landowners to connect with veterans, to give back and provide hunting opportunity.”

Only veterans and active military personnel could apply for a hunt reservation through the CDFW waterfowl reservation drawing system for the weekend. This made it possible for many to draw their first reservation of the 2020-21 waterfowl hunting season. A reservation is extremely important to hunters since it guarantees a place to hunt. Drawing a reservation is hard. In 2020-21, a record 1.23 million hunt reservation applications were submitted. At Little Dry Creek Unit within the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, one of the most sought-after hunting areas, a record 141,160 applications were submitted. Overall, the odds of drawing a reservation for the 2020-21 season on a CDFW managed waterfowl hunting area averaged 4.05 percent.

Veterans and active duty personnel experiencing the hunt came away with several positives. First and foremost, they enjoyed a special weekend of waterfowl hunting. Those new to waterfowl hunting got a chance to experience a hunt with minimal hunter competition. Many also were able to share the experience with friends and family.

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Media Contact: 
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

CDFW Transitioning to Electronic Hunting and Fishing Regulations Booklets in 2021

As part of a broader effort to go paperless, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is transitioning to a digital format for its 2021 hunting and fishing regulations booklets and Big Game Hunting Digest. Booklets will no longer be printed and shipped to license agents or customers but electronic versions of the booklets will continue to be available online.

“Not only is this shift best for the environment because of the reduction of many thousands of short-term paper booklets being produced, the cost to print and ship the booklets is significant,” said CDFW Wildlife and Fisheries Division Deputy Director Stafford Lehr. “Another benefit is that the money saved by going paperless will be redirected to fish and wildlife conservation.”

The transition to paperless regulations booklets follows a two-year effort to reduce the number of hard copy booklets printed and shipped to license agents and is consistent with the governor’s directive to reduce paper usage.

As in previous years, digital booklets are available at wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations and can be downloaded as PDFs to your computer, cellular phone or other electronic device. Hunters and anglers are encouraged to download the digital booklets to their mobile devices and familiarize themselves with the digital format prior to hunting and/or fishing trips.

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Media Contacts: 
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120

Special Post-Season Waterfowl Hunt Weekend Reserved for Veterans and Active Military Personnel Feb. 13-14

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will reopen and staff nearly two dozen of the state’s most popular waterfowl hunting areas to welcome veterans and active military personnel for a special hunt weekend Feb. 13 and 14.

The first Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days take place the second weekend in February throughout the Balance of the State, Southern San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California waterfowl zones on both private property and public land for eligible hunters.

Species and daily bag limits are the same as the regular season with the following exceptions: Brant are not open to take and geese are not allowed to be taken in the Balance of State Zone on these days.

In addition to a valid California hunting license, California duck validation, federal duck stamp and Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation, any person participating in these hunts must possess and present upon demand verification of eligibility. Acceptable verification includes: a Veteran ID Card, military ID card for active duty personnel, or a state-issued driver license or ID card with veteran designation. Qualifying veterans are those defined in Section 101, Title 38, of the United States Code. Absence of verification may subject the hunter to citation.

Among those public areas reopening for Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days: The Little Dry Creek Unit of the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Kern National Wildlife Refuge, Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, Merced National Wildlife Refuge, San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, North Grasslands Wildlife Area, San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area, Wister Unit of the Imperial Wildlife Area and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.

A wildlife area pass is required to hunt on Type A and Type B state-operated wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges during the hunt weekend. These items are not available for sale at hunter check stations and must be purchased ahead of time. All 2020 Type A and Type B Wildlife Area Season Passes and Type A One and Two-Day Wildlife Area Passes will be accepted during the hunt weekend. A Type A or Type B Season Pass is required to hunt on Type B Wildlife Areas.

As of Feb. 1, overnight camping is once again allowed on state-operated wildlife areas and federal refuges reopening for the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days Feb. 6-7 and the Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days Feb. 13-14. Please check with the individual property for entry procedures, specific details and other regulations.

Waterfowl hunters are strongly encouraged to review the 2020 CDFW Wildlife Area Operational Changes due to COVID-19 webpage prior to visiting any state-operated wildlife area or refuge in order to understand all required health and safety practices in place to help protect visitors and staff. Waterfowl hunters are further advised to check with the individual property they are planning to hunt for specific entry procedures, details and other regulations.

Below are general COVID-19 safety guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus in the outdoors:

  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time. 
  • Plan Ahead: The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic. Prior to leaving home, check to ensure your destination is open, if parking is available and what visitor guidelines may be in effect.
  • Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Those camping together should only include people within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties.
  • Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Restrooms may be unavailable or closed. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash.

Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858

Photo:
Bill Self of Dublin is an Air Force veteran, retired educator, and lifelong California sportsman. He and his fellow veterans along with active military personnel will enjoy an extra weekend of duck hunting Feb. 13 and 14 during California’s first Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days. Photo courtesy of Edward Lee.

Camping Reopens on CDFW Lands, State-Operated Wildlife Areas and Refuges

With the recent lifting of the Regional Stay-at-Home Order in all parts of the state, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will once again allow overnight camping on department lands, state-operated wildlife areas and federal wildlife refuges where camping is permitted, effective Monday, Feb. 1.

The reopening of camping and the overnight use of camp trailers and motorhomes will accommodate waterfowl hunters participating in the Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days Feb. 6-7 and the Veterans and Active Military Hunt Days Feb. 13-14 at wildlife areas and federal refuges in the Balance of the State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California waterfowl zones.

Non-hunting related dispersed camping on CDFW lands will once again be permitted on those specific properties that allow camping.

The California Department of Public Health Jan. 6 Travel Advisory remains in effect: Californians should avoid non-essential travel to any part of California more than 120 miles from one’s place of residence. Avoiding travel reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Waterfowl hunters are strongly encouraged to review the 2020 CDFW Wildlife Area Operational Changes due to COVID-19 webpage prior to visiting any state-operated wildlife area or refuge in order to understand all required health and safety practices in place to help protect visitors and staff. Waterfowl hunters are further advised to check with the individual property they are planning to hunt for specific entry procedures, details and other regulations.

Below are general COVID-19 safety guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus in the outdoors:

  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time. 
  • Plan Ahead: The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic. Prior to leaving home, check to ensure your destination is open, if parking is available and what visitor guidelines may be in effect.
  • Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Those camping together should only include people within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties.
  • Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Restrooms may be unavailable or closed. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash.
  • Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

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Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858