Little North Fork of the Navarro River, Mendocino County.

CDFW Awards $10.1 Million for Fisheries Habitat Restoration and Forest Legacy Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 31 projects that will receive funding for the restoration, enhancement and protection of anadromous salmonid habitat in California watersheds, as well as forest legacy restoration.

The grants, which total $10.1 million, are distributed through CDFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). They include $256,440 allocated for timber legacy restoration projects and approximately $9.8 million for anadromous salmonid restoration projects. FRGP monies come from a combination of state sources and the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.

“We are excited to further the restoration of river ecosystems critical to California’s salmon and steelhead,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Several of this year’s projects incorporate process-based restoration to address the root of ecological degradation and benefits all species using the waterway, including salmonids.”

In response to the 2019 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Grant Solicitation, CDFW received 70 proposals requesting more than $38 million in funding. All proposals underwent an initial administrative review. Those that passed were then evaluated through a technical review process that included reviews by CDFW and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists.

The 31 approved projects will further the objectives of state and federal fisheries recovery plans, including removing barriers to fish migration, restoring riparian habitat, monitoring of listed populations and creating a more resilient and sustainably managed water resources system (e.g., water supply, water quality and habitat) that can better withstand drought conditions. These projects further the goals of California’s Water Action Plan and CDFW’s State Wildlife Action Plan, as well as addressing limiting factors specified in state and federal recovery plans.

The list of approved projects is available on the FRGP webpage.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 445-1285
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

Landscape photo of Childs Meadow.

CDFW Awards $11.35 Million for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of seven projects to restore wetlands that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and provide other ecological co-benefits.

The awards, totaling $11.35 million, were made under CDFW’s 2019 Wetlands Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program Proposal Solicitation Notice. The seven projects will restore or enhance approximately 1,700 acres of wetlands and mountain meadows and sequester an estimated 67,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide (MTC02e).

The Wetlands Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program focuses on projects with measurable objectives that will lead to GHG reductions in wetlands and watersheds while providing co-benefits such as enhancing fish and wildlife habitat, protecting and improving water quality and quantity and helping California adapt to climate change. Wetlands have high carbon sequestration rates that can store carbon for decades.

“These projects will significantly benefit climate science and ecosystems representing the coast, the Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “We are excited to continue the momentum to restore California’s wetlands while making a demonstrable impact to greenhouse gases.”

To improve efficiency and alignment with program priorities, a new two-phase application process involving a pre-application and final application was implemented for 2019 solicitation.

The following projects are approved for funding:

  • The Light-handed Meadow Restoration in Faith Valley and Log Meadow ($475,675 to American Rivers) will restore and protect 138 acres of mountain meadow at two high-priority sites, Faith Valley in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Log Meadow in Sequoia National Park. The project will have an estimated GHG benefit of 7,644 MTCO2e.
  • The Hill Slough Restoration Project ($5,577,413 to Ducks Unlimited, Inc.) will restore 603 acres of managed seasonal wetland to tidal wetland and restore 46 acres of existing upland to tidal wetland in the Suisun Marsh. The project will have an estimated GHG benefit of 25,242 MTCO2e.
  • The City of Newman Inland Wetland Restoration Project ($610,000 to the City of Newman) will restore a 10-acre parcel of land owned by the City of Newman, Merced County. The project will provide multiple environmental, economic and public benefits and will have an estimated GHG benefit of 78 MTCO2e.
  • The White Slough Tidal Wetlands Restoration Project ($852,113 to the California State Coastal Conservancy) will restore 40 acres of coastal tidal wetlands on diked historic tidelands in the White Slough Unit of Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Humboldt County. The project will have an estimated GHG benefit of 17,073 MTCO2e.
  • The Upper Truckee River and Marsh Restoration Project ($895,000 to the California Tahoe Conservancy) will restore 13 acres of wetlands in the Upper Truckee River in El Dorado County by grading back to historic topography, removing invasive species and revegetation. The project will have an estimated GHG benefit of 6,545 MTCO2e.
  • The Lower Walnut Creek Restoration Project ($950,000 to Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District) will restore and enhance approximately 183 acres of tidal wetlands and tidal channel, 17 acres of non-tidal pickleweed marsh and 36 acres of adjacent lowland terrestrial ecotones, and create and enhance approximately 60 acres of uplands. The project will have an estimated GHG benefit of 5,690 MTCO2e.
  • The Ocean Ranch Restoration Project ($1,998,282 to the California State Coastal Conservancy) will restore the natural tidal prism and improve connectivity of tidal and freshwater habitats within 571 acres of Ocean Ranch in Humboldt County. The ORRP will have an estimated GHG benefit of 5,223 MTCO2e.

CDFW’s Wetlands Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program is part of California Climate Investments (CCI), a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities. The cap-and-trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. CCI projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling, and much more. More information about the CDFW program can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/watersheds/greenhouse-gas-reduction.

For more information about cap-and-trade funding and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, please visit the CCI website at www.caclimateinvestments.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 445-1285
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Harmon Oak Creek

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Nov. 21 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $28.7 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 27 approved 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.

Funding for these projects comes from a combination of sources including the Habitat Conservation Fund and bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources.

Funded projects include:

  • A $675,000 grant to the Lake County Land Trust to acquire approximately 200 acres of land for the protection of shoreline freshwater wetland, riparian woodland and wet meadow habitats that support the state threatened Clear Lake hitch along with the western pond turtle, a state species of special concern, and also provide future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities. The land is located on the southwestern shore of Clear Lake in an area known as Big Valley in Lake County.
  • A $329,400 grant to Pollinator Partnership for a cooperative project with Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bowles Farming, Inc., Monarch Joint Venture, Gabel Farm Land Co., Inc. and Namakan West Fisheries to enhance and monitor pollinator habitat located on three privately owned project sites within 10 miles of Los Banos in Merced County.
  • A $562,210 grant to San Bernardino County Transportation Authority for a cooperative project with San Bernardino Council of Governments to develop and complete a final draft of the San Bernardino County Regional Conservation Investment Strategy covering two subareas, the Valley subarea and West Desert subarea, and the Mountain region located in San Bernardino County.
  • Approval of $775,000 for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to acquire approximately 87 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, to preserve biological communities supporting sensitive species, to enhance wildlife linkages and provide future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities as an expansion of CDFW’s McGinty Mountain Ecological Reserve located near the community of Jamul in San Diego County.
  • A $2.57 million grant to Trout Unlimited for a cooperative project with the Mendocino Railway, the Mendocino Land Trust and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to restore access to 1.15 miles of steelhead and salmon habitat and reduce in-stream sediment upstream of where the California Western Railway crosses the upper Noyo River in Mendocino County.
  • A $1.4 million grant to Truckee Donner Land Trust to acquire, in fee, approximately 633 acres located near Truckee in Nevada County to help preserve alpine forests, wildlife corridors and habitat linkages, and to provide wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities.
  • A $2.98 million grant to the California Tahoe Conservancy for a cooperative project with CDFW, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Forest Service to restore 261 acres of wetland habitat owned by the California Tahoe Conservancy in South Lake Tahoe in El Dorado County.
  • An $885,500 grant to Save the Redwoods League for a cooperative project with Peninsula Open Space Trust and Sempervirens Fund to restore 552 acres of redwood and upland hardwood forests in the Deadman Gulch Restoration Reserve portion of the San Vicente Redwoods property situated in Santa Cruz County.
  • A $719,000 grant to Ducks Unlimited, Inc. for a cooperative project with the landowners and Audubon California to enhance wetlands that provide Tricolored Blackbird nesting habitat and waterfowl breeding habitat, located on privately owned land in Kern County.
  • A $3 million grant to Ventura Land Trust to acquire, in fee, approximately 2,118 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, and provide future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities, located five miles east of the city of Ventura in Ventura County.
  • A $4.9 million grant to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority to acquire, in fee, approximately 257 acres of land for the preservation of oak woodland and grassland habitat, wildlife corridors and habitat linkages, and to provide future wildlife-oriented, public use opportunities, located in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County.
  • A $1.4 million grant to the Council for Watershed Health for a cooperative project with the city of Los Angeles, the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, the Friends of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco Foundation for a planning project to provide designs, permits and environmental review for addressing impaired mobility for southern steelhead trout and other native fish along 4.4 miles of the Los Angeles River in downtown Los Angeles.

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
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

 

Paiute Cutthroat Trout Reintroduced to Native Habitat in High Sierra Wilderness

California’s native Paiute cutthroat trout, the rarest trout in North America, swims once again in its high Sierra home waters for the first time in more than 100 years.

California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham and representatives from the USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Golden Gate Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Little Antelope Pack Station joined biologists to release 30 Paiute cutthroat trout of varying sizes into Silver King Creek in Alpine County, Calif., Sept. 18, 2019.

“You’ve got to celebrate good times. That’s what we’re doing here today,” said CDFW’s Bonham from the banks of Silver King Creek within the remote Carson-Iceberg Wilderness area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. “If you forget to celebrate, you’re overlooking a remarkable success story – bringing these fish back home and celebrating a better California.”

Not since the early 1900s have genetically pure Paiute cutthroat trout occupied the 11-mile stretch of Silver King Creek between Llewellyn Falls and Snodgrass Creek that represents almost the entirety of the fish’s historic range.

“This is a lifetime achievement for those working to recover the rarest trout in North America,” said Lee Ann Carranza, acting field supervisor for the USFWS Reno office. “This remarkable partnership has allowed Paiute cutthroat trout to be returned to their entire native range without threat from non-natives.”

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The Paiute cutthroat trout was one of the first animals in the nation listed as endangered in 1967 under the federal Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, now known as the Endangered Species Act. In 1975, the species was downlisted to federally threatened to allow for a special rule that would facilitate management of the species by the State of California.

A small native range, habitat degraded by historic sheep and cattle grazing, and competition from and hybridization with non-native trout introduced into Silver King Creek threatened the species with extinction.

Only a fortuitous turn of events saved the species from disappearing altogether. In the early 1900s, Basque sheepherders moved some of the fish outside of their native range, upstream of Llewellyn Falls. The waterfalls served as a barrier to the non-native trout below and safeguarded a genetically pure population of Paiute cutthroat trout above the falls, providing government agencies and advocates the chance to recover the species in the future.

Efforts to save and restore the species have spanned several decades and involved removing non-native fish and restocking Paiute cutthroat trout from source populations.  Recreational fishing was closed within the Silver King Creek drainage in 1934. Later, grazing allotments were administratively closed so habitat could be restored.

At one time, only two small tributaries above Llewellyn Falls held genetically pure Paiute cutthroat trout. CDFW, the Forest Service and USFWS transferred some of these fish to other fishless, protected streams within the Silver King Creek watershed as well as four watersheds outside of the basin to create additional refuge populations to stave off extinction.

The effort to reintroduce Paiute cutthroat trout back into their historic home – the 11-mile main reach of Silver King Creek – began in 1994 when CDFW biologists explored Silver King Canyon and identified a series of waterfalls that served as historic barriers to upstream fish migration, isolating the Paiute cutthroat trout. The barriers could once again insulate Paiute cutthroat trout from encroachment from non-native trout if the non-native trout in Silver King Creek could be removed.

Wildlife officials prevailed over a decade of legal challenges to treat Silver King Creek and its tributaries with rotenone, a natural fish poison, to eliminate non-native trout and prepare Silver King Creek for the eventual return of Paiute cutthroats.

Silver King Creek and its tributaries were chemically treated from 2013 to 2015. State and federal partners monitored the creek for three years following the treatment to make sure all non-native fish were removed. Wildfires, floods and drought over the decades further complicated recovery efforts.

“The commitment of Forest Service, CDFW, USFWS, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, Trout Unlimited Golden Gate Chapter and Little Antelope Pack Station to move this project forward in the face of numerous challenges has been incredible,” said Bill Dunkelberger, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest supervisor. “A project of this magnitude that took over several decades could not have been completed without state, federal and other partners working tirelessly together.”

The fish reintroduced into Silver King Creek on the afternoon of Sept. 18 were collected that morning from a source population in Coyote Valley Creek about 2 miles away and transported by mules to the banks of Silver King Creek. The fish were deposited into buckets filled with water from Silver King Creek to acclimate for several minutes before being released among cheers and applause – and a few tears – by biologists and others, some of whom have spent decades working toward the historic homecoming.

Restoring Paiute cutthroat trout to their native Silver King Creek nearly doubles the amount of habitat available to the fish and is considered key to their long-term survival and potential delisting.

Monitoring of the reintroduced fish and additional restocking of Paiute cutthroat trout into Silver King Creek from other refuge populations is planned in future years to aid genetic diversity and introduce different age classes into the creek to help natural reproduction.

Photos and video of the Sept. 18 reintroduction are available here: ftp://ftp.wildlife.ca.gov/OCEO/Paiute%20Cutthroat%20Trout/

CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham, CDFW Warden Anastasia Norris and CDFW Chief David Bess.

CDFW Honors Wildlife Officer of the Year

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Division has selected Warden Anastasia Norris as the 2019 Wildlife Officer of the Year.

“Warden Norris has spent plenty of time doing traditional wildlife law enforcement work, but her expertise in oil spill investigations and response is where she has shined over the course of her career,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Investigations involving habitat damage from oil and hazardous materials spills are integral to the Law Enforcement Division’s mission. Warden Norris is one of the finest in this regard.”

Warden Norris received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Sciences from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1998 and a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma in 2001. She graduated as part of Academy Class 53 at Butte College in 2009 and began her career as a wildlife officer in Long Beach, where she gained expertise in marine enforcement and commercial fishing.

She soon transferred to the CDFW Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), where she has excelled as the State On-Scene Coordinator and/or lead investigator for 20 complicated oil and hazardous materials spills. In 2015, Norris was designated the lead investigator on the Plains All-American/Refugio spill in Santa Barbara County, one of the largest and most detrimental oil spills to hit California’s coast in the last 50 years.

The Refugio oil spill began on May 19, 2015. Norris managed and coordinated the evidence and documentation efforts throughout the investigation, including embarking upon a cross-country drive to ensure chain-of-custody and security of a seized section of pipeline in Ohio. She interviewed dozens of witnesses during the investigation. The final 118-page report included support documentation that was an additional 13 inches thick. Norris also provided support for the prosecution and was in court every day of the almost four-month duration of the trial. On Sept. 7, 2018, guilty verdicts were reached on nine counts, including eight misdemeanors and one felony. Even while the Refugio investigation was dominating her workload, Norris continued to respond to numerous other petroleum spills.

“Warden Norris is the force behind major investigations involving water pollution and numerous environmental statutes and regulations affecting our great state’s waterways and ocean environment,” said Brett Morris, Supervising Deputy Attorney General of the California Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted the Refugio case. “While away from her assigned beat and her family for over three months, Warden Norris successfully guided to conviction the largest criminal prosecution of corporate water polluters in Santa Barbara County’s history.”

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Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692