Category Archives: Public Lands

CDFW Expanding Lands Pass Program to Dozens of Properties in 2017-18

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is expanding its Lands Pass Program to 41 wildlife areas and ecological reserves this fall and winter and will soon require a CDFW lands pass of all visitors 16 or older. Those carrying a current hunting or fishing license are exempt from this new requirement.

CDFW’s Lands Pass Program began in 1988 as a way to broaden the funding base beyond hunters and anglers to pay for conservation and habitat improvement on some of the state’s most popular and frequently visited wildlife areas and ecological reserves. In 2013, the California Legislature directed CDFW to expand the program to more properties as a way for all visitors to contribute to the management of the places they enjoy and appreciate.

A daily lands pass costs $4.32 and an annual lands pass costs $24.33. Lands passes can be purchased online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales, by phone at (800) 565-1458 or in-person wherever hunting and fishing license are sold (please see www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing for a list of locations). The passes are good at any CDFW-managed wildlife area or ecological reserve designated as a lands pass area. With the exception of the Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve, lands passes are not sold on site and should be purchased in advance. Though lands passes can be purchased from a smartphone and used immediately, many of CDFW’s wildlife areas and ecological reserves are in remote locations with limited or no cell service or Wi-Fi availability. Signs will be posted notifying visitors of the need for a lands pass.

A lands pass already is required to visit six CDFW properties:

  • Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve in Monterey County
  • Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Butte County
  • Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Solano County
  • Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County
  • Los Banos Wildlife Area in Merced County
  • San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County.

Beginning in November, a lands pass will be required to visit the following 11 properties:

  • Ash Creek, Bass Hill, Honey Lake and Willow Creek wildlife areas in Lassen County
  • Battle Creek Wildlife Area in Tehama County
  • Butte Valley, Horseshoe Ranch and Shasta Valley wildlife areas in Siskiyou County
  • Mouth of Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area in Shasta County
  • Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area (Green Island Unit only) in Napa County
  • Woodbridge Ecological Reserve in San Joaquin County (beginning Nov. 15)

Starting January 2018, a lands pass will be required at the following 23 properties:

  • Batiquitos Lagoon, Boden Canyon, Buena Vista Lagoon and San Elijo Lagoon ecological reserves and Hollenbeck Canyon and San Felipe Valley wildlife areas in San Diego County
  • Upper Newport Bay (Big Canyon Unit only) Ecological Reserve in Orange County
  • Canebrake Ecological Reserve in Kern County
  • Crescent City Marsh, Elk Creek Wetlands and Lake Earl wildlife areas in Del Norte County
  • Eel River, Elk River Wetlands, Fay Slough and Mad River Slough wildlife areas in Humboldt County
  • Hope Valley Wildlife Area in Alpine County
  • Mendota Wildlife Area in Fresno County
  • North Grasslands and Volta wildlife areas in Merced County
  • North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Butte County and the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area in Butte and Glenn counties
  • Tehama Wildlife Area in Tehama County
  • Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in Yolo County

Starting February 2018, a lands pass will be required at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Orange County.

For more information on CDFW’s Lands Pass program, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/lands-pass.

Media Contacts:
Julie Horenstein, CDFW Lands Program, (916) 324-3772
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

CDFW photo of the Ash Creek Wildlife Area in Lassen County where a CDFW lands pass will be required of visitors 16 or older starting in November

Wild Pheasant Hunting Season Opener Nears

The second weekend of November brings a popular tradition for many families in California – the opening of pheasant season.

Although the overall wild pheasant population has been decreasing in recent years and the number of hunt days has been reduced on some wildlife areas, opportunities are still available on state-managed lands.

The 2017 general pheasant season will open Saturday, Nov. 11 and extend through Sunday, Dec. 24. The daily bag limit is two males per day for the first two days of the season and three males per day thereafter. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. Shooting hours are from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Native to Asia, the ring-necked pheasant was introduced to California as a game bird species in the late 1800s. Though they flourished in California for decades, numbers have been dropping since the most recent high in the late 1990s. Total pheasant harvest on public areas in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys declined from a high of 4,828 roosters in 1998 to 461 last year.

In an effort to address the decline, CDFW continues efforts to restore and enhance upland habitat on public areas. This is in addition to a multiyear collaborative research project with Pheasants Forever and the United States Geological Survey to better understand factors that limit populations. These field studies of wild pheasant survival and reproduction at locations around northern California will continue into 2018 and result in a report of findings and future management recommendations.

Preliminary results indicate that changing land use practices is one of the major drivers of wild pheasant declines on both public and private lands. An overall decline in annual acres of “unharvested cropland” correlate with pheasant declines as well as decreases in acres of planted barley, sugar beets, winter wheat and sorghum, and increases in acres of nut trees and rice. Pesticide use and increases in avian predator populations also appear to play a role.

In 2010, CDFW reduced the number of days that certain wildlife areas will be open for pheasant hunting due to a decline in the number of hunters targeting pheasant and the cost to operate check stations during the first week of the season. For the upcoming season, hunters should be aware of the following restrictions on wildlife areas:

  • Type A wildlife areas in the Sacramento Valley (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area and Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area (Little Dry Creek, Llano Seco and Howard Slough units) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and the first Monday (Nov. 13) during the pheasant season.
  • Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will only be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the pheasant season.
  • Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley (Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area and San Luis National Wildlife Refuge free roam area) will only be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the pheasant season.
  • The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Kesterson Unit blind area will only be open for pheasant hunting the first Monday (Nov. 13) and a special zone of the Freitas Unit will only be open on the first Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 11-12) of the pheasant season.
  • The Wister Unit of Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County and San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County will continue to be closed to pheasant hunting this year.
  • Type C wildlife areas will remain open as normal.

Nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting pheasants anywhere in the state, except on licensed game bird clubs. For more information please see the CDFW Nonlead Ammunition webpage.

All hunters must carry a current California hunting license in their possession. Adult hunters (18 or older) must also have an upland game bird validation. The full upland game bird hunting regulations and a summary as well as the public lands regulations for 2017-18 are available on CDFW’s website.

The modifications of the shoot days on Type A wildlife areas are pursuant to the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 550(i)(1).

For more information on specific hunting opportunities, hunters should contact their regional CDFW offices and check the CDFW website.

Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 322-6709
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Lands Program, (916) 445-1829
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

 

Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities Available Soon at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Alameda County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering waterfowl hunting opportunities at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve (ELER) in Hayward during the 2017-18 season.

The reserve includes former commercial salt ponds now managed by CDFW as low-salinity water bird habitat and areas restored to full tidal action. Access to ELER for waterfowl hunting will be open for 100 hunters on a first-come, first-served basis for each hunt only on the dates listed below. There is no fee for these hunts.

2017 Hunt Dates (Check-in at 5 a.m. on each of the following dates)

  • Saturday, Nov. 18
  • Tuesday, Nov. 28
  • Thursday, Dec. 7
  • Saturday, Dec. 16
  • Thursday, Dec. 21
  • Saturday, Dec. 30

2018 Hunt Dates (Check-in at 5:30 a.m. on each of the following dates)

  • Saturday, Jan. 6
  • Thursday, Jan. 11
  • Saturday, Jan. 20
  • Thursday, Jan. 25

All adult hunters must possess a valid California Hunting License, federal duck stamp, state duck and HIP validations. Junior hunters must have a junior license and, if 16 or older, must also possess a federal duck stamp. Junior hunters must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older (hunter or non-hunter).

Vehicles may only drive on designated levees, must use approved parking areas and are allowed only on the hunt dates specified above. To participate, hunters must check in with CDFW staff and provide the above licenses, stamps and validations. Hunters will also be required to check out upon leaving and allow inspection of game to evaluate hunter success and collect harvest data.

Improvements have been made to ELER, including a boat launch on Mount Eden Creek allowing access to tidal areas on specified hunt days. Boaters are advised to consult local tide charts before launching and should be aware that extensive mud flats may be exposed and even shallow draft vessels can be subject to hidden underwater hazards during low tides, including rip-rap at the launch.

There is a 25-shell limit in the field. Non-toxic ammunition is required for hunting waterfowl and when hunting on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves.

A small boat, canoe or other floatation device is highly recommended to access ponds and blinds, navigable sloughs, and for game retrieval. A hunting dog is also recommended for retrieving birds. Be aware that water depths can be shallow and pond bottoms are soft. Hunters may request additional information, including area rules, regulations and maps, at the time of check-in. Hunters are responsible for avoiding closed areas.

To get to ELER from Interstate-880, exit at Alvarado Boulevard, continue west on Alvarado Boulevard, turn right onto Union City Boulevard, left onto Bettencourt Road (sign for Union Sanitary District), left on Whipple Road, right on Horner Street, then right on Veasy Street. Enter at the yellow gate to the check station.

Formal plans for public access opportunities at the reserve in addition to hunting are being developed as part of the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project. More information is available at www.southbayrestoration.org.

 Media Contacts:
John Krause, CDFW Bay Delta Region (415) 454-8050
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

CDFW photo courtesy of Stuart Itoga.

Waterfowl Hunting Seasons Opening Soon

Hunters have a lot to look forward to this fall when the California waterfowl season opens. The season opens Saturday, Oct. 7 in the Northeastern California Zone and on Saturday, Oct. 21 in most other zones.

“Habitat conditions look good in most areas and the majority of waterfowl populations continue to be at all-time highs,” said Melanie Weaver, Waterfowl Program Leader with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

Opening and closing dates vary by zone.  These dates, along with detailed information about daily bag and possession limits, can be found in the 2017-2018 Waterfowl Regulations booklet.  Most season dates and bag limits remain similar to last year with the exception of pintail, which has been reduced to one bird per day.

Quality public hunting access can be found on more than two dozen national wildlife refuges and wildlife areas and ecological reserves managed by CDFW. Please note that nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition webpage.

It is common for waterfowl hunting areas to close periodically throughout the season due to safety concerns caused by flooding. Areas that most commonly experience flood closures include Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Little Dry Creek and Howard Slough. Waterfowl hunters should keep informed about current reservation and quota numbers, which can fluctuate. Reservations for state-operated wildlife areas that are closed due to flooding will not be accepted at other hunting areas, and refunds will not be issued for applications submitted to areas that are closed or if reservations are not available.  Hunters can follow the Twitter tag #cawildlifeareaclosures for updates on state-operated wildlife area closures.

valid California hunting license, HIP registration, appropriate validations and a signed federal waterfowl conservation stamp must be obtained before entering the field. In addition, a wildlife area pass is required to hunt on many state-operated wildlife areas. Licenses, validations and passes are not sold at wildlife areas, so hunters must purchase these items in advance.

California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Approximately 30,000 students complete this requirement annually.

Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

Photo of Edward Lee and his pudelpointer, Elee, courtesy of Edward Lee.

CDFW Biologists Predict Good Quail Hunting Season in 2017-18

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists are expecting a very good quail hunting season when the general seasons open, thanks to rebounding populations that benefitted from California’s wet fall and winter in 2016.

California’s prolonged drought reduced quail populations statewide. Biologists found overall declines of 33 percent for mountain quail, 29 percent for California quail and 17 percent for Gambel’s quail from 2005 to 2015 using data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, which monitors the status and trends of North American bird populations.

Quail populations fluctuate naturally with weather and other prevailing environmental conditions such as wildfires. Fortunately, 2016 brought a shift in weather conditions for California. The rain received was critical to the production of food and cover for quail populations. Perhaps most importantly, rains produce more insects, which are a vital food source for young quail.

Detailed information on California’s various quail hunting zones, including season dates, descriptions and a map, is available at CDFW’s Upland Game Bird Hunting webpage: wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Upland-Game-Birds.

As a result of the same wet weather conditions, CDFW regional biologists are expecting a strong chukar hunting season as well, particularly in desert habitat that often experiences boom-and-bust population swings based on the amount of rainfall.

CDFW is offering several special quail and chukar hunting opportunities this fall and winter at ecological reserves and wildlife areas in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Hunters with a valid California hunting license can apply for these hunts through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). Hunt descriptions are available at CDFW’s Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Upland-Game-Birds/Hunts.

CDFW’s SHARE Program, which provides public hunting opportunities on private land, is offering several quail hunts in Santa Barbara County this fall and winter. Hunters with a valid California hunting license can also apply for these hunts through the ALDS system. Hunt descriptions are available at CDFW’s SHARE Program webpage: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE.

California is phasing in the use of nonlead ammunition for hunting. Nonlead ammunition is required for hunting quail when on state wildlife areas or ecological reserves in California. Learn more about California’s nonlead ammunition requirements for hunting at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Nonlead-Ammunition.

Media Contacts:
Katherine Miller, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-0885
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

CDFW photo by Stuart Itoga