CDFW’s Cannabis Grant Program Announces Upcoming Funding Opportunities for 2021 and Beyond

irrigation piping being airlifted out of remote location
2018 Cannabis Grant Cleanup Effort in Northern California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced plans for upcoming funding opportunities for a variety of cannabis related projects statewide through the Cannabis Restoration Grant Program (CRGP).

CDFW has released a Draft Proposal Solicitation Notice for public review and comment. The draft solicitation includes funding opportunities in two priority categories statewide: (1) Cleanup and remediation of public lands impacted by illegal cannabis cultivation and (2) Watershed and/or community enhancements where either legal or illegal cannabis cultivation occurs.

CDFW will host an online workshop on March 24, 2021, at 11 a.m. to provide an overview of the draft solicitation, application requirements and to answer questions about this specific funding opportunity. See CDFW’s CRGP page for details about the workshop.

Additionally, CDFW is developing a new grant opportunity with a focus on assisting qualified cannabis growers. More details on this opportunity will be announced later this year.

“We are excited to engage with organizations of all sizes about their ideas and cannabis-related projects to benefit the environment,” said Jennifer Nguyen, CDFW’s Cannabis Environmental Program Manager. “We are interested to see how these financial resources will help the industry and are eager to listen and learn from our stakeholders.”

Grants through the CRGP are funded through California’s Environmental Restoration and Protection Account pursuant to Revenue and Taxation Code section 34019(f)(2), and may be used to fund the cleanup, remediation, and restoration of environmental damage in watersheds affected by cannabis cultivation and related activities, and to support local partnerships for this purpose.

View this online presentation to learn more about CRGP and available funding opportunities.

For questions on CDFW’s CRGP, please email canngrantprogram@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891

California’s Spring Wild Turkey Season Fast-Approaching

California’s general spring turkey season opens statewide March 27 and runs through May 2 with additional hunting dates for young hunters and archery hunters.

Among the many opportunities to bag a wild turkey this spring:

  • Those possessing a valid junior hunting license get the first chance at a spring turkey. A youth-only weekend hunt takes place March 20-21, a week before the general season opens. A post-season youth hunt begins Monday May 3 and runs through Sunday May 16. Shotguns are permitted for all youth seasons.
  • A special, archery-only hunting season begins Monday, May 3 and runs through Sunday, May 16.
  • CDFW’s SHARE Program, which offers public hunting opportunities on private properties, is offering drawings for spring turkey hunts on two private ranches in Tulare County, the 722-acre River Ridge Ranch and the 975-acre Hart Ranch, including one post-season hunt Sunday, May 16 at the River Ridge Ranch for adult archery hunters or junior hunting license holders with a shotgun. Applications for these special hunts must be made through CDFW’s online sales site. There is a $12.42 application fee for each hunt with most of the money raised returned to participating landowners. For more details on these hunts, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/SHARE.
  • CDFW will host nearly 100 special turkey hunts on public lands throughout the state this season. The hunts were available through an online lottery process that has now closed.

With stable to growing populations of wild turkeys in many parts of the state, the spring turkey season has become one of the more anticipated events on the hunting calendar.

Shooting hours for spring turkeys are from one half-hour before sunrise to 5 p.m. Both a hunting license and upland game bird stamp validation are required to hunt wild turkeys, although an upland validation is not required for junior hunting license holders.

Hunters are limited to one bearded turkey per day with a spring season limit of three birds.

Nonlead shot is required when taking wildlife with a firearm anywhere in the state. Turkeys also can be legally hunted with air rifles and lead pellets of at least 0.177 caliber. Crossbows may be used for the general turkey season but not during the archery season.

Turkey hunters are strongly encouraged to review the 2020 CDFW Wildlife Area Operational Changes Due to COVID-19 web page prior to visiting any state-operated wildlife area in order to understand all required health and safety practices in place to help protect visitors and staff. Turkey hunters are further advised to check with the local management of 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.

Wildlife Officers Shut Down Illegal Cannabis Operation on CDFW Property

Armed Growers Stopped From Cultivating Thousands of Plants

Wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) conducted a raid of a clandestine cannabis grow on the North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Gadwall Unit in Los Banos.

The property is home to dozens of species of nesting waterfowl, migratory birds, rabbits, pheasants, birds of prey, small rodents and native plants. Over 1,500 hunters and outdoor enthusiasts visit the property annually.

Nestled in the closed zone of the property, the growers constructed five hoop houses made from PVC pipe and wood that was covered with plastic tarps. The hoop houses were filled with 185 immature cannabis plants and the site had been prepared to plant several thousand more.

“This brazen attempt to hide in plain sight on CDFW property is a perfect example of the lengths people will go to grow illegal cannabis,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “This type of activity is a huge public safety threat and detrimental to the extensive bird populations that rely on the natural resources of this property.”

On Feb. 25, MET officers carefully entered the grow site and apprehended two men. One of the suspects was armed with a loaded semi-automatic .22 rifle and the other was armed with a loaded Beretta-style CO2 pellet pistol.

Several dead birds, including one Western Meadowlark were discovered within the grow site. Thousands of feet of black polyethylene pipe were stretched across the property and was siphoning water from the permanent wetlands in the closed zone. Officers also discovered dozens of dangerous pesticides and chemicals.

Over 2,560 lbs. of waste, chemicals and infrastructure was removed and taken to the landfill.

The two suspects were arrested and are being charged with eight felonies and 15 misdemeanors with the Merced County District Attorney’s office.

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Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891

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

Knoxville Wildlife Area and Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area, Napa County Re-Open

moss covered oak on hillside

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the re-opening of the Knoxville Wildlife Area and Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area, both in Napa County. The August 2020 LNU-Lightning Complex Fire consumed the entire 21,500-acre Knoxville Wildlife Area and both units of the Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area (414 acres).  The public is asked to remain vigilant of potential hazards such as falling trees and rocks, and to confine use to established old ranch road trails. Potential for debris flow is high along the northern section of Berryessa-Knoxville Road and in the Long Canyon area during heavy rain events. To protect public safety, this may prompt subsequent closure of the Knoxville Wildlife Area.

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Media Contacts
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120 
Stacy Martinelli, CDFW Wildlife Biologist