Category Archives: Public Safety

Feather River Hatchery Closed Until Further Notice

Due to recent flooding from the Feather River, the Feather River Hatchery in Oroville will remain closed to the public until further notice.

The hatchery’s infrastructure and public viewing areas were damaged by high flood waters, silt and debris, making it unsafe for the public to be on the grounds or access the river via hatchery property.

“Our staff is focused on keeping the hatchery salmon and steelhead alive, and facility cleanup efforts won’t be completed for some time,” said Anna Kastner, Feather River Hatchery Manager. “We appreciate the public’s patience and support of our efforts to preserve these critical stocks under unusual and challenging circumstances. We’ll be very happy when all operations are back to normal.”

On Feb. 9 and 10, more than 60 people from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and other agencies successfully transferred more than five million Chinook salmon to an annex hatchery nine miles away. Fisheries staff also constructed an emergency filtration system for the remaining salmon and steelhead at the Oroville facility.

To date, losses at the hatchery have been minimal.

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Media Contacts:
Anna Kastner, CDFW Feather River Fish Hatchery, (530) 538-2222

Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958

Construction of New CDFW Facility to Temporarily Impede Trail Access

Upcoming construction of a new Salmon Conservation and Research Facility (SCARF) will trigger temporary, sporadic closures of a section of the San Joaquin River Parkway Trail at the  recently constructed Friant Interactive Nature Site (FINS) throughout 2017. Visitors are asked to observe all safety precautions in place during construction and yield to posted signs and fencing when visiting the trail.

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The trail closures are expected to last from March until completion of the new facility in 2018.

The SCARF will be built adjacent to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s San Joaquin Trout Hatchery approximately 1 mile downstream of Friant Dam near the town of Friant in Fresno County. The facility will work to repopulate spring-run Chinook salmon in the San Joaquin River in accordance with the Restoration Goal of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program (SJRRP). The SJRRP includes multiple state, federal and local agencies and environmental groups working together to restore the San Joaquin River.

Spring-run Chinook have been extinct from the San Joaquin River following completion of Friant Dam in 1942. Fish releases from the SCARF, along with other restoration measures, will eventually support 30,000 to 45,000 naturally-reproducing and self-sustaining spring-run adults.

The $23.7 million project will be funded through state bonds from the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Fund of 2006 (Proposition 84) and the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1).

Media Contact:
Gerald Hatler, CDFW Central Region, (559) 243-4005, ext. 127
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Commercial Rock Crab Fishery Now Extends to Bodega Bay

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that it will extend the open area of the commercial rock crab fishery northward to Bodega Bay in Sonoma County.

  • On Feb. 10 the commercial rock crab fishery is open from 38° 18′ N. Lat. (Bodega Bay, Sonoma County) south to the California/Mexico border.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County. Because of this, on Nov. 8, OEHHA, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), recommended to CDFW to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million (ppm) in the viscera. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from CDPH to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught north of Bodega Bay.

Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of Bodega Bay shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be open. In the meantime, CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September. The most recent test results showed that domoic acid in rock crabs from Bodega Bay and Point Reyes had fallen below the alert level of 30 ppm in their viscera.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (2/10/2017)

www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories

www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

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Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Flooding Limits Use of Wild Lands

Flooding Limits Use of Wild Lands

Recent flooding has limited opportunities for nature enthusiasts, hunters and students to enjoy certain wildlife areas and ecological reserves operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area just west of Sacramento completely flooded in January, leading to the temporary closure of the wildlife area and affecting more than 200 hunters and other visitors each day. The closures also affected school nature programs – which serve more than 4,000 students annually at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area alone – necessitating the postponement or cancellation of scheduled trips to the wildlife observation drive.

Nearby, the Fremont Weir Wildlife Area automatically starts to flood when the Sacramento River reaches the height of the weir. Such flooding has occurred several times this winter and the trend is expected to continue. Access to the wildlife area is restricted when the river is rising or water is flowing across the fields. After a heavy rain, the access road can be muddy and four-wheel-drive vehicles may be needed.

At Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, 100 miles north of Sacramento near Gridley, all three units were closed to hunting. At Colusa and Delevan National Wildlife Refuges, hunting programs were severely reduced for the last two weeks of waterfowl season. The entire Grizzly Island Wildlife Area complex southwest of Fairfield is also closed due to water spilling over levees.

In Merced County, the entire floodplain of the China Island Unit of North Grasslands Wildlife Area along the San Joaquin River was inundated. The area remained open to waterfowl hunting but required a boat to access the floodplain.

In Southern California, San Jacinto Wildlife Area in western Riverside County experienced heavy rains that compromised Davis Road. This area remains flooded and accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. The county will be launching efforts to make it passable in the coming months.

“Periodically, flood conditions will affect public use of the wildlife areas and other lands CDFW manages,” said CDFW Lands Program Manager Kari Lewis. “After many years of drought, the recent rains remind us how quickly the amount of water on the landscape can change, affecting the accessibility of these areas for hunting and wildlife viewing.”

In the short term, many of the closures are inconvenient, but are nonetheless necessary for public safety and to provide safe haven and minimize stress to displaced wildlife. In the long term, the benefit of the rain is indisputable. Floodwaters at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, for instance, will eventually provide resources for migrating waterfowl and mudflats for shorebirds to feed on.

Statewide, CDFW manages more than a million acres for wildlife, which together see more than a million visitors a year. These lands support recreational pursuits such as bird watching and wildlife viewing, rare plant study and fishing and hunting opportunities. Individual properties support different suites of species, such as Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, a coastal wetland that provides invaluable habitat for wildlife including sea otters, brown pelicans and bat rays, and Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in the Central Valley, which hosts more than a million migrating waterfowl annually. All of these lands are vital to the state’s efforts to preserve California’s ecological heritage and provide the public with opportunities to enjoy these resources.

“Farsighted conservationists with what was then called the California Department of Fish and Game began purchasing key wildlands in the 1920s to ensure the future of California’s wildlife,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “It is our job to wisely preserve, manage and protect these jewels of conservation in times of both drought and floods.”

Current information about CDFW wildlife area closures can be found at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=57660&inline or via Twitter tag #cawildlifeareaclosures. Additional information about CDFW lands can also be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/lands.

Limited funding to maintain and operate these lands comes primarily from hunting license sales and federal grants programs such as those created under the federal Wildlife Restoration Act.

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Media Contacts:
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Kari Lewis, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3789

Recreational Razor Clam Fishery Closure in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties Extended Due to Ongoing Public Health Concerns

Under new authority granted this year, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham has acted to extend the closure of the recreational razor clam fishery in Humboldt and Del Norte counties due to continued high levels of domoic acid, as determined by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in consultation with the California Department of Public Health. The fishery closure will remain in effect until the health agencies determine clams to be safe and recommend reopening the fishery.

State health agencies determined last spring that razor clams in Humboldt and Del Norte counties had unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended fishery closure in April 2016. The California Fish and Game Commission closed the fishery under emergency rules from April to October 2016 and extended the closure to Jan. 26, 2017.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine algae. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

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Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937