Category Archives: Uncategorized

CDFW Shuts Down Black-Market Marijuana Grow in Trinity County

On Nov. 6, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) served a search warrant on a black-market marijuana cultivation operation at the 1700 block of Hidden Valley Road in Trinity County.

The property contained an unpermitted water diversion, water pollution violations, over 900 unprocessed growing marijuana plants and 5,069 pounds of untested black-market marijuana bud.

water tanks 2

During routine flights over Trinity County, CDFW observed more than 600 marijuana plants and numerous large water tanks with a large black irrigation hose leading into dense vegetation along a creek. CDFW verified that the grow was unlicensed by the state and unpermitted by the county. A record check on the property showed no CDFW Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement (LSAA) had been filed, no state license to grow marijuana and no attempt to legitimize the operation in the county.

CDFW’s Watershed Enforcement Team (WET), which includes a combination of law enforcement officers and scientific staff, inspected the property and detained 32 suspects. Some of the suspects were armed and wearing bullet proof vests. Two suspects had a fake police officer badge. Eleven were booked into Trinity County jail on multiple felony charges related to environmental crimes. The others were released.

Eleven Fish and Game Code violations were documented including a substantial water diversion from a tributary to the South Fork Trinity River, which provides critical breeding and juvenile rearing habitats for steelhead trout, Chinook Salmon, and several species of aquatic amphibians, including the Foothill yellow-legged frog, a candidate for state threatened species status.

The water diversion consisted of a large hose that was actively funneling water to multiple water storage tanks. Unpermitted water diversions like this are capable of dewatering streams during the summer months, which can reduce or eliminate the reproductive success of the aquatic species that rely on these habitats.

“Black-market grows prevent legitimized cultivators from thriving, harm California’s sensitive natural resources with diverted waterways and illegal pesticides and put untested cannabis products on the black-market,” said David Bess, Deputy Director and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division. “We support the legal cannabis market where cultivators obtain permits, take action to prevent environmental impacts and comply with applicable state and local laws.”

CDFW collaborated with the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, the Trinity County Environmental Health Department and the US Forest Service on the mission. CDFW would like to remind the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the 24/7 CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258.

Media Contacts:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 895-3988


Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closure Lifted in State Waters Around Anacapa Island

Today the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham lifted the commercial spiny lobster fishery closure in state waters around Anacapa Island, Ventura County as recommended by state health agencies.

According to the memo from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, analysis of spiny lobster samples by California Department of Public Health (CDPH) laboratories indicates that spiny lobster taken from this area no longer pose a significant human health risk due to elevated levels of domoic acid. The commercial spiny lobster fishery is now open statewide and the CDPH advisory to recreational anglers has been lifted.

For More Information:
Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (11/16/18)

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

CDFW Offering 60 Apprentice Pheasant Hunts Across the State

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is hosting 60 special pheasant hunts this fall and winter to serve new hunters, youth hunters, women hunters, mobility-impaired hunters, families and others with limited experience or opportunity to hunt.

The hunts take place from November through February in almost every part of the state from Siskiyou and Plumas counties in the north to San Diego and Imperial counties in the south. CDFW’s Central Region is hosting 30 of the 60 hunts in Fresno, Kern, Madera, Merced and San Luis Obispo counties.

Six hunts are planned in Los Angeles County, two in Riverside County, two in Napa County, two in Solano County, and two in Yolo County, among other locations. Applications and information are available online at CDFW’s Apprentice Hunts webpage.

Hunters may apply only once for each hunt – either as an applicant or as a guest. Submitting multiple applications will disqualify applicants from the drawing. There is no fee to apply or participate in these hunts. Trained hunting dogs and their handlers are provided on some – but not all – hunts. Participants are allowed to bring their own hunting dogs on some hunts or hunt without a dog.

These special apprentice pheasant hunts are offered in partnership with many volunteer organizations and funded by the sale of the upland game bird stamp/validation required of upland game bird hunters 18 and older.

Additional upland bird hunting opportunities are available at CDFW’s Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts webpage and through CDFW’s SHARE program, which provides public hunting access to private or landlocked properties. Other upland game bird hunting opportunities are available on CDFW wildlife areas without reservations.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Linda Sandoval, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3452

San Diego Eighth-Grader Ethan Mayes Becomes First to Receive ‘Master Ocean Angler’ Award From CDFW’s California Fishing Passport Program

Thirteen-year-old Ethan Mayes of San Diego has become the first person to earn the title of Master Ocean Angler from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) California Fishing Passport program by catching at least 50 different species of saltwater game fish.

Mayes, an eighth-grade honor roll student, reeled in a black-and-yellow rockfish from the Coast Guard Pier in Monterey on Aug. 13 to record his 50th ocean game fish species.

Mayes’ exuberance at landing the smallish rockfish and scurrying to find a camera to document his catch left tourists and fellow pier anglers a little perplexed about all the excitement over catching a small fish.

“I was so happy to finally do it,” Mayes said of seeing his 50th saltwater species on the end of his line. Mayes caught his 51st species – a cabezon – about an hour later from the same spot. The next day, aboard a Monterey fishing boat, he landed species No. 52 – a yellowtail rockfish – and followed that up less than a week later with species No. 53 – a 50-plus-inch, 15-pound dolphinfish caught outside of San Diego’s Mission Bay aboard a charter boat.

“Ethan has the adventurous spirit and determination needed to travel the state’s waters in search of new fish to catch – which are the hallmarks of a California Fishing Passport Master Angler,” said CDFW’s Mary Patyten, awards administrator for the program. “It really is an amazing feat, especially for such a young angler. He is an extraordinary young man.”

CDFW’s California Fishing Passport program was launched in January 2007 to encourage Californians of all ages and backgrounds to experience fishing for a variety of fresh and saltwater fish and shellfish. The California Fishing Passport booklet is the centerpiece of the program, allowing anglers to record the date, place and species of sport fish and shellfish caught within California waters. Each catch must be verified by a photo or a witness signature. Each catch can then be stamped by an official stamping agent such as a CDFW License Sales Office.

Fourteen different recognition awards can be earned – from the My First Fish Award to the Supreme Master Angler Award available to those who have earned a Master award in at least two other award categories – such as Warmwater Fishing (Inland), Coldwater Fishing (Inland), Ocean Fishing and Shellfish (Inland and Ocean). Mayes previously achieved the Ocean Angler Award – for catching 10 different qualifying species – and the Accomplished Ocean Angler Award – for catching 25 different qualifying species.

With a minimum of 50 different ocean species, however, the bar may be highest to reach Master Ocean Angler status. A Master Coldwater Angler, for example, needs to catch and record just 10 different qualifying fish. A Master Warmwater Angler needs to catch at least 25 different warmwater fish species.

No California angler has yet earned the Supreme Master Angler Award, though Mayes said his next goal is the Shellfish category. Catching at least 15 different qualifying inland and ocean shellfish would earn him the additional title of Shellfish Master and qualify him for Supreme Master Angler status.

Mayes was not born into a fishing family. He began fishing – mostly unsuccessfully – as an eight year old when a family friend gave him a fishing rod and reel for Christmas. His passion for fishing grew and he began logging his catches in the California Fishing Passport program in 2014. His parents have learned to fish to accompany him on his outings and support his passion.

Almost half of the saltwater species Mayes has caught – 26 of the 53 – have been taken off public piers, one of the most accessible types of fishing available in California as no fishing license is required. Mayes honed his saltwater techniques over the years at his home pier – the Shelter Island Pier in San Diego.

As he has gotten older, Mayes has broadened his interests and skillset to include more offshore species. His biggest catch so far is a 125-pound bluefin tuna he caught on an offshore trip with his father. Although saltwater fishing is his primary passion, he also enjoys sailing, tennis, surfing and snorkeling.

Becoming California’s first Master Ocean Angler didn’t become a goal for Mayes until he caught his 25th species.

“That was really a big turning point,” he said. “I was like, wow, this is really happening and I could get to 50 at some point.”

For more information on the California Fishing Passport program, please visit

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Mary Patyten, CDFW California Fishing Passport Program, (707) 964-5026


Photo: San Diego’s Ethan Mayes shows off the black-and-yellow rockfish he caught in Monterey that marked his 50th saltwater species.

CDFW’s Elkhorn Slough Designated ‘Wetland of International Importance’

MOSS LANDING, CA — Congressman Jimmy Panetta, California State Senator Bill Monning, State Assemblymember Mark Stone, and representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and Elkhorn Slough Foundation gathered on October 5 at Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve’s Hester Marsh to celebrate the designation of Elkhorn Slough as a Wetland of International Importance by the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

With this recognition, the Elkhorn Slough joins 38 other wetland sites in the United States — including the San Francisco Bay estuary — and more than 2,330 sites worldwide, in a network of globally important wetlands designated under the world’s oldest international environmental treaty. The Convention was signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971, and almost 90 percent of U.N. member states have since adopted the treaty.

“I am proud that Elkhorn Slough is being recognized internationally for what we on the central coast of California have long known, that this wetland is an environmental crown jewel.  This designation is a reminder of the importance of protecting the diverse wildlife and conserving these waters for future generations to enjoy,” said Congressman Panetta.

The Elkhorn Slough, which enters Monterey Bay at Moss Landing and is partially located in NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, has long been recognized by local, state, and federal organizations as exceptional for its biologically rich diversity and unique scientific research studies, as well as the estuary’s recreation, tourism, and education opportunities.

“Elkhorn Slough is a spectacular wetland on the central California coast, hosting a rich diversity of plants and animals and beloved by the local community,” said Mark Silberstein, executive director of the Elkhorn Slough Foundation. “Every day, hundreds of people from kayakers to birdwatchers and other visitors enjoy the sea otters, seals, fish, shorebirds, eelgrass beds, and marshes of the Elkhorn Slough. We’re pleased these wetlands have now earned international recognition.”

To be designated as part of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, a wetland site must fulfill at least one of nine criteria, including hosting more than 20,000 shorebirds at a time, serving as fish nursery habitat, and supporting threatened species. Elkhorn Slough met all nine criteria. The designation was approved by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this year.

The Elkhorn Slough is a seasonal estuary rich with intertidal marshes, mudflats, eelgrass beds and oyster communities that nourish wildlife. More than 340 species of birds, 100 species of fish, including bat rays and leopard sharks, and more than 500 species of invertebrates have been documented in the watershed. Its distinctive estuarine communities are among the rarest and most threatened habitats in California, and are home to more than 140 Southern sea otters that feed, rest, and raise their pups in these wetlands.

“Healthy wetlands help support healthy economies,” said Paul Souza, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Southwest Region. “The rich and diverse ecosystems of Elkhorn Slough help both our wildlife and our local communities thrive. Visitors from across the globe come to the slough to immerse themselves in its serene beauty and observe the wildlife that call the area home, including the southern sea otter, a species that once thrived but faced near extinction in the last century.”

Wetlands like Elkhorn Slough serve key functions in pollution control and food provision, offering green, sustainable, low cost and efficient ways to clean wastewater of impurities and recycle nutrients, and also serve as cradles of biodiversity by hosting young fish and other marine species as well as rice paddies – all of which are critical to the food chain for humans and wildlife worldwide.

The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and Elkhorn Slough Foundation hosted the designation ceremony at the Hester Marsh Restoration site, a $6.5 million, 61-acre wetland restoration project nearing completion. Like many of the marshes of the Elkhorn Slough, Hester Marsh was diked and drained for farming during the last century, resulting in a marsh plain elevation too low to support salt marsh. The restoration project provides the elevation needed to support tidal marsh habitat that will withstand changes in sea level over the next century and continue to provide important habitat for fish, plants and wildlife.

“This project is an example of the intensive investment required to restore estuarine functions once lost, while incorporating a design that enhances resilience for future challenges,” said Dave Feliz, manager of Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve for CDFW, which owns the property.

More than 90 percent of California’s wetlands have been lost over the past century. Though today the Elkhorn Slough features the most extensive salt marshes in California south of San Francisco Bay, without restoration its remaining marshes are projected to drown within 50 years due to sea level rise. The current project at Hester Marsh is reviving one of these drowning marshes.

The Hester Marsh restoration project illustrates why the Elkhorn Slough is receiving this prestigious designation as a Wetland of International Importance. Once complete, the project will double salt marsh habitat in a part of the slough frequented by Southern sea otters and their pups — underscoring the Ramsar Convention’s mission for the conservation and sustainable use of wetland ecosystems.

“Few places embody NOAA’s mission of ‘science, service and stewardship’ more fully than Elkhorn Slough,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “As part of our system of 29 National Estuarine Research Reserves, it offers opportunities for scientific research, community recreation and tourism, and provides habitat for many species. Today’s Ramsar designation shows how we have all joined forces to protect this extraordinary place. Along with our many partners here today, we will continue to protect it and the communities that depend on it.”

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