Elkhorn Slough

Celebrate California Biodiversity Day 2020 by Exploring Nature, In Person or Online

California is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, with more than 30,000 species of insects, 6,500 plants, 650 birds, 220 mammals, 100 reptiles, 75 amphibians, 70 freshwater fish and 100 species of marine fish and mammals. We celebrate the unique diversity of living things found in our state, and encourage actions to protect them, on California Biodiversity Day, held Sept. 7 of each year. In 2020, the celebration coincides with Labor Day.

Although physical distancing restrictions and other COVID-19 precaution have prevented California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) ecological reserves and wildlife areas from planning the “open house” style celebrations that were hosted last year, where large groups of people could gather, CDFW staff across the state have created a roster of ways – both virtual and outdoors – for Californians to explore and learn about the biodiversity found on state lands. A master list of California Biodiversity Day events can be found at https://resources.ca.gov/biodiversityday2020.

This year’s virtual events, self-guided tours and outdoor opportunities lend themselves to physical distancing. The events will be held over the course of a week, from September 5-13, 2020.

A sampling of California Biodiversity Day 2020 events, many of which feature the use of the free iNaturalist app, include the following:

  • Take one of the many self-guided tours available at CDFW properties throughout the state. Use the iNaturalist app to learn and document any plants, animals or other organisms you encounter while exploring CDFW ecological reserves and wildlife areas.
  • Challenge yourself with a self-guided bioblitz at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Contribute observations of organisms spotted while exploring the park between September 5 and 13.
  • Play along in the bioblitz competition between Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Support your favorite park in their quest to log the highest number of bioblitz participants.
  • Play California Biodiversity Bingo! Download the California Academy of Science’s bingo card and see if you can find enough common species in your backyard or neighborhood to make a bingo.
  • Challenge your family to with a bioblitz at the greater Mono Lake area, including Lee Vining Canyon and Lundy Canyon. Share what you see, from bird nests to scat samples!
  • Get ideas for kid-friendly activities on the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History’s website. Learn about ways to engage kids at home in exploring and learning about biodiversity.
  • Venture out on a virtual scavenger hunt at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Walk along the Discovery Trail and try to find as many of the species on the list as you can!

Please visit the website for a full list of events and details.

All proposed in-person activities will take place outdoors and involve minimal contact between participants and any staff present, with a minimum physical distance of 6 feet from individuals from different households observed by all.

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Media Contacts:
Kim Tenggardjaja, CDFW Science Institute, (916) 704-3092
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

Angler casting a line on river

Sept. 5 is Free Fishing Day in California

The last chance of the year to fish for free arrives over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Free Fishing Day is being offered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on Saturday, Sept. 5.

“Free Fishing Day is the perfect chance to see what so many Californians already have discovered: That fishing can be a great escape in difficult times and does wonders to invigorate physical health and restore mental well-being,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham.

While no fishing license is required on the Sept. 5 Free Fishing Day, all fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.

Anglers can review the sport fishing regulations online (wildlife.ca.gov/regulations) or use CDFW’s mobile website to view freshwater limits and regulations specific to a body of water (https://map.dfg.ca.gov/sportfishingregs).

A basic annual resident sport fishing license in California currently costs $51.02, while a one-day fishing license costs $16.46. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Californians are rediscovering the joys of fishing and its restorative effects. California has issued more annual, resident sport fishing licenses so far in 2020 than the state issued throughout all of 2019.

Fishing can be a safe outdoor activity that allows for physical distancing. CDFW asks all anglers to adhere to all site-specific rules and regulations. Before heading to a public area or fishing destination, please check to see if any safeguard or restrictions have been instituted to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For expert anglers, Free Fishing Day is a perfect time to introduce newcomers to the sport. For novice anglers without a mentor to guide them, CDFW has developed a new R3 web page for those looking to learn more about fishing, hunting and wild food in California. Aspiring anglers will find a collection of fishing information, instructional materials, tutorials and other useful links on the web page.

CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – typically around the Fourth of July and Labor Day holiday weekends – when it’s legal to fish without any license.

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Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

CDFW Warns of Continued Fraudulent License Sales Operations

If you are in the market for a California fishing or hunting license (or any related products, such as hunting tags), please ensure that you are making your purchase from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) or an approved vendor.

Several unauthorized online websites are continuing to improperly charge customers extra fees for online fishing and hunting license purchases, and may be collecting sensitive personal information as part of their unauthorized transactions.

California hunting and fishing licenses may properly be purchased in only one of four ways:

Because CDFW’s license sales offices and some independent license sales agent offices have been temporarily closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, there has been a surge in online sales over the summer months. Unscrupulous website operators and scammers are taking advantage of increased virtual traffic, and the public should take extra precautions to ensure they do not fall victim to a scam.

Since June 2019, six websites offering unauthorized license sales have been taken down at CDFW’s behest, and an additional two websites are in the process of being disabled.

The ALDS, which is CDFW’s exclusive means of online license sales, was launched in 2011. ALDS can be accessed via CDFW’s website or by clicking the link that is frequently provided in official communications from the department. When making an online purchase, please check the URL of the site you are visiting to ensure you are on the official CDFW website (wildlife.ca.gov) or the ALDS website (www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales). These are the only CDFW-affiliated links for hunting and fishing license sales.

Unofficial websites may attempt to represent CDFW and/or contain information about hunting and fishing licenses, and Internet search engines may not always list the official CDFW website as the top result.

Please be cautious when providing personal information to any website. While authorized purchases made through independent license sales agents and ALDS are subject to an additional 5 percent handling fee, the fraudulent sales websites offer products for sale with “shipping and handling fees” that are much higher than 5 percent of the base purchase price. To date, it appears that the fraudulent activity has been limited to charging customers unauthorized fees. Licenses that have been mailed to customers after unauthorized transactions may be valid; however, CDFW cannot guarantee that this is or will be true in all cases.

If you believe you may have been defrauded by an unauthorized website or would like to check the validity of a previous purchase, please provide us with information about your experience at ReportFraud@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
Stephen Adams, CDFW Information Systems Branch, (916) 323-1456
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

Flooded rice field

CDFW Now Accepting Proposals for California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for the California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program (CWRHIP). For Fiscal Year 2020-2021, a total of up to $4,058,220 in CWRHIP funds will be available for new two-year agreements under this proposal solicitation notice.

In response to the recent decline of winter-flooded rice acreage in the Central Valley and the ecological importance of this habitat base, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 2348 in September of 2018. AB 2348 established the CWRHIP, which is designed to continue and further encourage the winter-flooding of harvested rice fields in the Central Valley of California. A significant portion of the caloric needs of ducks and migrating shorebirds utilizing the Sacramento Valley are provided by winter-flooded rice fields.

CWRHIP provides economic incentives to landowners or lessees who agree to manage their properties in accordance with a management plan developed in consultation with biologists from CDFW’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat Program. Management plans will require landowners to flood harvested rice fields for a minimum of 70 continuous days during the winter months (October through March). Properties that can maintain water during critical months (January through mid-March) will be given additional points in the ranking process. Properties located within five miles of an active airstrip on a military base or international airport are not eligible to enroll in the program.

The program pays landowners an annual incentive of $15 per acre for the winter-flooding of harvested rice fields. The management requirements of the program will start after the 2020 harvest and continue through early 2022.

The deadline to apply for this program is Sept. 14, 2020 at 4 p.m. The program solicitation, application instructions and other information are available at wildlife.ca.gov/lands/cwhp/private-lands-programs.

CDFW staff will be hosting an online meeting on Thursday, Aug. 27 at 10 a.m. to explain the program requirements and application process and answer questions regarding CWRHIP. For information about how to participate in this meeting, please visit CDFW’s website at wildlife.ca.gov/lands/cwhp/private-lands-programs.

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Media Contacts:
Jeff Kohl, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 373-6610

Kelsey Navarre, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 371-3132
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

crab in tidepool

CDFW Reminds Beach Visitors of Tidepool Collection Regulations

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has noted an increase in the number of visitors to our rocky seashore this summer, and reminds people they must know the rules governing harvest and should do what they can to protect these amazing places.

“Regulations that either prohibit or limit the collection of species like turban snails, hermit crabs and mussels are meant to protect our tidepools, which are full of fascinating life that’s important to the marine ecosystem,” said Dr. Craig Shuman, CDFW Marine Region Manager.

Individuals should not remove any animals from tidepools that they don’t plan on keeping and should also be aware that even walking over some sensitive areas can unintentionally harm tidepool plants and animals.

“It is important to watch where you walk, not only to avoid unintentionally harming the myriad of sea life that call California’s tidepools home, but to avoid an accidental fall,” Shuman said.

Tidepool animals have special regulations that limit the species and numbers that can be taken (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05). Most species found in tidepools can only be collected by hand. The use of pry bars, knives or other devices to remove them from the rocks is not allowed. There are also regulations that cover fish found in tidepools, which can only be taken by hook and line or hand. No nets or other devices can be used. In addition, the California Department of Public Health’s annual mussel quarantine is in effect until at least Nov. 1, because eating mussels at this time of year may be hazardous to your health. Mussels can be collected for bait but may not be taken for human consumption during this period.

“People may not realize that anyone age 16 or older must have a valid sport fishing license to collect tidepool animals, and that there are limits to how many can be taken,” said Assistant Chief Mike Stefanak of the CDFW Marine Law Enforcement Division. “In Southern California, an Ocean Enhancement Validation is also required for tidepool collection.”

Most marine protected areas (MPAs) do not allow collection of tidepool animals. MPA maps and regulations are available on CDFW’s MPA web page, and on the mobile-friendly Ocean Sport Fishing interactive web map. Local authorities may also close off other areas to tidepool collecting.

Tidepooling and legal collecting can be a safe outdoor activity that maintains physical distancing from others as we work to minimize transmission of COVID-19. Those interested in participating must make sure to stay six feet from anyone not in their same household, wear a face mask, follow all fishing regulations, watch for incoming waves and where they step, and stay safe. Any wildlife crimes witnessed can be easily reported to CDFW’s “CalTIP” hotline, by calling 1-888-334-2258, or by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847-411 (tip411).

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Media Contacts:
John Ugoretz, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 338-3068

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714