Category Archives: Water

Water Bird Die-off at Salton Sea

Thousands of water birds died of an avian cholera outbreak at the south end of the Salton Sea between Jan. 8-17. Outbreaks like this one occur annually as a result of birds flocking closely together during migration.

On Jan. 8, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) began receiving reports of hundreds of dead birds at the south end of the Salton Sea from local waterfowl hunters and staff at the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge (SBNWR). CDFW investigated the event and discovered over a thousand bird carcasses concentrated around Bruchard Bay west of the New River. Over the next week, staff from CDFW and SBNWR collected more than 1,200 carcasses consisting of mainly Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Black-necked Stilts and Gulls. Most carcasses were incinerated at SBNWR to reduce the spread of disease; however, several samples were shipped to the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab in Rancho Cordova to determine the cause of death. The samples tested positive for avian cholera.

avian chol 2

Avian cholera is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida. Outbreaks occur annually during the winter in California and may result in the deaths of thousands of birds. Waterfowl and coots are the most commonly affected. Pasteurella multocida is released into the environment by dead and dying birds or asymptomatic carriers, and is transmitted through direct bird-to-bird contact or through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. Predatory and scavenging birds may acquire avian cholera by feeding on infected birds. Avian cholera is transmitted easily between birds when they flock together in high densities. Birds are most susceptible to the disease during stressful periods, especially during the winter months when birds congregate at key water sources during migration, and the weather is cold and damp.

Avian cholera can affect rabbits and mice but not other mammals. It is not considered a high risk disease for humans. However, hunters should always cook their game thoroughly. For more information, please refer to the full Field Guide to Wildlife Diseases.

CDFW staff will continue monitoring and collecting carcasses around the Salton Sea over the next few weeks. CDFW’s Bermuda Dunes Field Office, Wildlife Investigations Lab and local game wardens will continue to coordinate with partners, including staff at SBNWR and the Imperial Wildlife Area – Wister Unit to share information and prepare to respond should the die off increase.

CDFW is also asking club owners and habitat managers to make a report if multiple dead birds are found on their property. Reports can be made to CDFW’s Dead Bird Hotline at 1 (877) 968-2473.

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

 

CDFW Releases Guidance Document for Delta Conservation Planning

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today released the Delta Conservation Framework as a comprehensive resource and guide for conservation planning in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through 2050.

The framework provides a template for regional and stakeholder-led approaches to restoring ecosystem functions to the Delta landscape. It incorporates feedback from a series of public workshops initiated in 2016, prior planning efforts and the best available science on Delta ecosystem processes.

“The history, culture, politics and ecosystems of the Delta are complex. The Delta is also connected in many ways to the lands, watersheds and communities that surround it,” said CDFW Delta Policy Advisor Carl Wilcox. “If the Delta Conservation Framework is used as a guide toward future conservation project planning and implementation, it is possible to achieve the vision of a Delta composed of resilient natural and managed ecosystems situated within a mosaic of towns and agricultural landscapes, where people prosper and healthy wildlife communities thrive.”

The Delta Conservation Framework includes broad goals that acknowledge the importance of effective communication, community engagement and education, making decisions based on science, and working collectively on conservation permitting and funding. The framework suggests multiple strategies that could be used by all Delta stakeholders to move conservation forward.

CDFW initiated the process to develop the Delta Conservation Framework to maintain and increase conservation momentum in the Delta.

 More information about the process used to develop the framework, materials presented in the public workshop series, and electronic copies of the Delta Conservation Framework, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Watersheds/DCF

Media Contacts:
Carl Wilcox, CDFW Delta Policy Advisor, (707) 944-5584
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

CDFW Awards $4.2 Million for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant Projects

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

The awards, totaling $4.2 million, were made under CDFW’s 2017 Wetlands Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program Proposal Solicitation Notice.

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.

“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to fund wetland restoration projects while directly addressing climate resiliency and furthering the science of carbon sequestration,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Wetlands play a vital role in our state’s water storage and as natural carbon sinks, provide significant other benefits.”

Projects approved for funding are:

  • Van Norden Meadow Restoration Project ($1,948,803 to the South Yuba River Citizens League). The Van Norden Meadow Restoration Project is a unique opportunity to advance the understanding of multiple benefits that meadow restoration projects provide through a collaborative monitoring and restoration program. The project proposes to restore 485 acres of meadow habitat and conduct monitoring to address specific uncertainties about how meadow restoration benefits meadow hydrology, ecology, biology, carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas cycling, and increase our understanding of the vulnerability of meadows to climate change.
  • Elkhorn Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration: Hester Phase II ($1,596,779 to Elkhorn Slough Foundation). Elkhorn Slough, one of the largest estuaries in California, contains the state’s largest salt marshes south of San Francisco Bay. The slough provides important habitat for a broad range of resident and migratory birds, invertebrates, fish, marine mammals and other wildlife, and plays a crucial role in the local estuarine and nearshore food web. The project includes restoration of an entire cross section of coastal ecosystem from carbon sequestering native oyster beds, 30 acres of historically diked and drained coastal wetlands, and five acres adjacent vegetated buffer. Building upon the success of Hester Phase I, the project will enhance sophisticated GHG science and monitoring as well as investigating the novel GHG mitigation strategy of converting plant waste to biochar as a soil amendment.
  • Ecosystem and Community Resiliency in the Sierra Nevada: Restoration of the Clover Valley Ranch ($680,974 to The Sierra Fund). The overarching goal of this project is to improve climate resilience at the ecosystem and community level in Red Clover Valley. Ecosystem resiliency is defined as the reestablishment of hydrologic function and mesic vegetation, while community resiliency is defined as long-term engagement and capacity building of residents of the region, including the Mountain Maidu Tribe. This project leverages Natural Resources Conservation Service implementation including construction of grade control structures, beaver dam analogues and revegetation, and proposes to evaluate the effectiveness of restoration for improving climate resilience. The on-the-ground activities will result in GHG sequestration benefits and environmental and economic co-benefits for people and species of the region, while monitoring will ensure that benefits are quantified, contributing to climate-based understanding of Sierra Nevada meadows.

CDFW’s Wetlands Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program is part of California Climate Investments, 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. California Climate Investments 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 wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/watersheds/greenhouse-gas-reduction.

For more information, please visit the California Climate Investments 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

 

CDFW Awards $13.2 Million for Fisheries Habitat Restoration and Forest Legacy Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 41 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 $13.2 million, are distributed through CDFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). They include $994,421 allocated for timber legacy restoration projects and approximately $12.2 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 fund this round of projects, and to support the restoration and protection of habitat critical to our salmon and steelhead.” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “This year’s devastating wildfires and looming drought continue to put our fisheries at risk, making the work of our stakeholders that much more important.”

In response to the 2018 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Grant Solicitation, CDFW received 89 proposals requesting more than $37 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 41 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 website.

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

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