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Invasive New Zealand Mudsnails Found in Carmel River – Residents and Visitors Urged to Help Prevent Further Spread

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed the presence of New Zealand mudsnails in Monterey County’s Carmel River.

The highly invasive, nonnative snails have been detected by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District at multiple locations in the lower river, including near the Highway 1 crossing, the Valley Greens Drive bridge, and Mid Valley nearly 8 miles upstream from the mouth of the river at the Carmel River State Beach along the Pacific Ocean. No mudsnails were found in locations upriver from Red Rock to the base of Los Padres Dam.

CDFW urges visitors and those in the community to “clean, drain and dry” all recreational and fishing gear in order to prevent the further spread of the snails. It is illegal to import, possess or transport the mudsnails without a permit and offenders can be cited.

Despite their small size, New Zealand mudsnails are a problematic aquatic species. Only 4 to 6 millimeters long on average, dense populations of New Zealand mudsnails can displace and out-compete native species, sometimes by consuming up to half the food resources in a waterway. The snails have been linked to reduced populations of aquatic insects, including mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, chironomids and other insect groups upon which trout and steelhead populations depend.

The Carmel River is home to a fragile population of threatened steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Boaters, anglers and others who may visit the Carmel River, within or outside infested areas, are asked to decontaminate their equipment and follow the “clean, drain and dry” best practices with all equipment used in the river:

  • If you wade, freeze waders and other gear overnight (at least six hours).
  • After leaving the water, inspect waders, boots, float tubes, paddleboards, kayaks or any gear used in the water. Remove any visible snails with a stiff brush and follow with rinsing. If possible, freeze or completely dry out any wet gear.
  • Never transport live fish or other aquatic plants or animals from one body of water to another.

An informational flier on the “clean, drain and dry” directive is available for download at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=3866&inline.

To date, low numbers of New Zealand mudsnails have been identified in two other locations in Monterey County (the Salinas and San Antonio rivers).

In the coming weeks, CDFW will launch a public outreach and education effort, including distribution of information cards, brochures and signage posted at the Carmel River State Beach and at other access points along the Carmel River.

For more information on the New Zealand mudsnail, please visit CDFW’s Invasive Species website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives/Species/NZmudsnail.

The current distribution of mudsnails in California and throughout the United States can be viewed at the U.S. Geological Survey’s interactive map, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/viewer/omap.aspx?SpeciesID=1008.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Florida Artist Wins 2017 California Duck Stamp Art Contest

A painting by John Nelson Harris of Groveland, Fla., has been chosen as the winner of the 2017 California Duck Stamp Art Contest. The painting, which depicts a ruddy duck, will be the official design for the 2017-2018 stamp.

The veteran wildlife artist is a repeat champion, having previously claimed the first-place honor in the 2014 California Duck Stamp Art Contest.

“I am proud to have my art once again represent the great state of California and its waterfowl program,” said Harris.

Following the contest Tuesday in Davis, the judges praised the anatomical accuracy of his victorious painting, in particular the “impressive attention to feather detail” that produced a lush, “layered” feel.

“What you strive for when you are creating something is to capture the nuances of the species,” Harris said. “I try to get a balance between the soft areas that can be muted to the eye and also the hard areas where you can see everything. In this case I went back and softened it up when I had a bit too much detail.”

Artists from around the country submitted entries for the contest, sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Mark Kness of

Albert Lea, Minn., placed second, Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Ind., placed third and Roberta “Roby” Baer of Redding received honorable mention.

The top four paintings will be displayed at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s 47th Annual Classic Wildlife Art Festival, which is scheduled July 22-23 in Sacramento.

Since 1971, the California Duck Stamp Program’s annual contest has attracted top wildlife artists from around the country. The contest is traditionally open to artists from all 50 states in order to ensure a wide pool of submissions. All proceeds generated from stamp sales go directly to waterfowl conservation projects throughout California.

In the past, hunters were required to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting licenses. Today, hunters are no longer required to carry the stamps because California’s modern licensing system prints proof of additional fees paid directly onto the license. However, CDFW still produces the stamps, which can be requested on CDFW’s website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps.

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Media Contacts:
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717

 

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Streamflow Enhancement Projects

At its March 9 Streamflow Enhancement meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $20 million of Proposition 1 Funds in grants through the Streamflow Enhancement Program. The program awards grant funding on a competitive basis to projects that represent the mission of the WCB and address the three goals of the California Water Action Plan: reliability, restoration and resilience.

Of the 24 funded projects, 10 are implementation projects, 13 are planning projects and one is an acquisition. All are predicted to result in significant enhancement to the amount, timing and/or quality of water available for anadromous fish and special status, threatened, endangered or at risk species, or bolster resilience to climate change. Some of the funded projects are:

  • A $2.2 million grant to California Trout (CalTrout) for a cooperative project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Natural Resources Conservation Service, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences to dedicate, through a California Water Code section 1707 transfer, 1.5 cubic feet per second (cfs) of cold water to the Little Shasta River through a combination of on-farm efficiency savings and voluntary flow contributions, located on privately owned land six miles east of Montague in Siskiyou County.
  • An $800,000 grant to the Plumas Corporation for a cooperative project with the California Department of Water Resources, California State University, Sacramento and the U.S. Forest Service to implement a long term monitoring program that accurately quantifies the flow of water from mountain meadow landscapes, to document the effectiveness of restoration efforts within Tulare, Fresno, Calaveras, El Dorado, Sierra, Plumas and Lassen counties.
  • A $4.5 million grant to Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), California State Coastal Conservancy, California Natural Resources Agency, Trust for Public Land and California American Water Company, to acquire approximately 185 acres of private land and its associated water rights along the Carmel River, approximately one mile east of Carmel-by-the-Sea in Monterey County.
  • A $3.4 million grant to the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians for a cooperative project with the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USFWS and Bureau of Indian Affairs to implement 16 restoration actions. These actions, designed to enhance flows and improve ecological conditions and geomorphic processes, span a project area of approximately 91 acres within the Dry Creek Rancheria, and will improve and restore habitat for endangered steelhead and Coho salmon in Rancheria Creek.
  • A $132,000 grant to TNC for a cooperative planning project between Trout Unlimited and CalTrout. The objectives of this project are to develop an efficient process and model for water rights holders to dedicate water for instream flows in the Shasta River watershed, to provide information to practitioners via outreach and to develop straightforward processes for analyzing consumptive use.
  • A $941,000 grant to the Immaculate Heart Community/La Casa de Maria (LCDM) Retreat and Conference Center for a cooperative project with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, American Tanks & Loomis Tanks and the California Conservation Corps to offset existing agricultural irrigation, landscaping and non-potable domestic water use. The capture and reuse of up to 800,000 gallons of water through onsite rainwater reuse, storm water management and irrigation conservation will allow LCDM to abstain from seasonal diversion and use of a riparian water right, and dedicate approximately 7 million gallons of water annually to instream flow, thereby enhancing creek base flows and steelhead trout habitat on San Ysidro Creek.
  • A $2.3 million grant to the Mission Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with the La Pata Mitigation Project, Integrated Regional Water Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local agencies to control 98 acres of the invasive plant, Arundo donax on 17.8 river miles in the San Juan, Santa Margarita, San Luis Rey and San Diego watersheds in Orange and San Diego Counties. This WCB project will fund activities that are part of existing watershed programs, so will have benefits in terms of long-term success/follow-up, outreach and a large-scale watershed-based approach.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-2420

Featured photo: Riparian habitat on the Cosumnes River in El Dorado County. Courtesy of American River Conservancy

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Feb. 23 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $10 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California, including the Salton Sea. Some of the 16 funded projects will benefit fish and wildlife – including some endangered species – while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community. The state funds for all these projects come from bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Funded projects include:

  • A $900,000 grant to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to construct a boat launch facility on Trout Lake, renovate the entrance road and replace a bridge over the Little Shasta River on CDFW’s Shasta Valley Wildlife Area, approximately eight miles east of the City of Yreka in Siskiyou County.
  • A $1.4 million grant to the County of Yolo to re-construct the boat launch facility on the CDFW Knights Landing Public Access property, in Knights Landing in Yolo County.
  • A $2.4 million grant to the California Rangeland Trust for a cooperative project with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to acquire conservation easements over approximately 12,710 acres of land to protect open space and a natural landscape consisting of native oak woodlands, chaparral, annual grasslands and watersheds that are beneficial to Tule elk and other wildlife, and promote the preservation of habitat linkages and corridors between existing protected lands near the community of Pozo, in San Luis Obispo County.
  • A $1 million grant to the City of Santa Clarita to acquire fee title to approximately 200 acres of land to protect upland coastal scrub, oak woodland, coastal watersheds and important habitat linkages, south of Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County.
  • A $426,000 grant to Lakeside’s River Park Conservancy for a cooperative project with Department of Water Resources to restore approximately 97 acres of riparian habitat for threatened and endangered species. The property is on Endangered Habitats Conservancy property along the San Diego River in the El Monte Valley, two miles east of Lakeside in San Diego County.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-2420

More of Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery to Open; One Area Will Remain Closed

On Dec. 24 and Dec. 26, more of the California coastline will open to the commercial Dungeness crab fishery. Some previously closed areas will open at the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today.

The regions that will open include the area between Salt Point in Sonoma County north to the Sonoma/Mendocino County line near Gualala, the area between the Sonoma/Mendocino County line north to Point Arena in Mendocino County, and the area between Humboldt Bay in Humboldt County south to near Shelter Cove in Humboldt County.

However, due to persisting conditions of elevated domoic acid levels, the fishery will remain closed between Point Arena and Shelter Cove. The closed portions of the coast may open once testing by state agencies shows that domoic acid in crabs from the area no longer poses a significant risk to public health.

  • On Dec. 24 at 2:01 a.m. the commercial Dungeness crab season will open from near Salt Point, Sonoma County (38° 34.5’N. Lat.) north to the Sonoma/Mendocino County line (38° 46.1’ N. Lat.). The opener in this area will be preceded by an 18-hour pre-soak period (in which commercial crabbers may begin setting gear in place) commencing at 8 a.m. on Dec. 23.
  • On Dec. 26 at 12:01 a.m., the commercial Dungeness crab season will open from the Sonoma/Mendocino County line (38° 46.1’ N. Lat.) north to 38° 57.5′ N. Lat. (near Point Arena) and from 40° 01′ N. Lat. (near Shelter Cove) to the north jetty of the Humboldt Bay entrance. The opener in this area will be preceded by a 64-hour pre-soak period commencing at 8 a.m. on Dec. 23.

The area between Point Arena and Shelter Cove will remain closed until the CDFW Director receives a recommendation from the state health agencies that levels of domoic acid – a naturally occurring toxin – do not pose a public health risk. Last fall and winter, domoic acid along the West Coast interrupted Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line.

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 keep the commercial Dungeness crab fishery closed north of Point Reyes and 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 in the viscera. Because of this, on Nov. 8, OEHHA, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), recommended to CDFW to close or delay the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season north of Point Reyes and close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point.  On Nov. 23, OEHHA, in consultation with CDPH, recommended that CDFW proceed with its normal commercial fishery opening date of Dec. 1 for the region from the north jetty at the Humboldt Bay entrance to the California/Oregon border. On Dec. 1, OEHHA recommended the commercial fishery be opened from Point Reyes, Marin County to near Salt Point, Sonoma County.

The recreational season for Dungeness crab opened on Nov. 5 and remains open with a warning from CDPH to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of Dungeness crab caught between Point Arena and Shelter Cove.

Closure of the above-referenced commercial fisheries 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 fisheries be open, and the Director of CDFW provides notification to the commercial fisheries. Recreational fisheries will remain open under a warning to anglers not to eat the viscera of crab caught in the affected areas.

CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened. CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that select crabs from the closed areas had elevated levels of domoic acid 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 (12/20/2016)

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

www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Invertebrates/Crabs#315201115-links-to-the-latest-information

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

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