DFG to Hold Public Meetings on Suction Dredge Permitting Program

Media Contacts:
Mark Stopher, Environmental Program Manager, (530) 225-2275
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8988

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has completed the first round of environmental review documents related to California’s currently suspended Suction Dredge Permitting Program. The Draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) is now available for public review and comment.

The Draft SEIR addresses the potential environmental effects of the permitting program, which was suspended in 2009 pending completion of this review, and proposes amendments to the regulations that existed prior to the current moratorium.

In addition to proposing the revised program, the document also evaluates the potential impacts of four alternatives: a No Program Alternative (continuation of the existing moratorium), a 1994 Regulations Alternative (continuation of previous regulations in effect prior to the 2008 moratorium), a Water Quality Alternative (which would include additional program restrictions for water bodies listed as impaired for sediment and mercury pursuant to the Clean Water Act, section 303(d)), and a Reduced Intensity Alternative (which would include greater restrictions on permit issuance and methods of operation to reduce the intensity of environmental effects).

The Draft SEIR and supporting documents are now available on the DFG website at www.dfg.ca.gov/suctiondredge, and can be provided upon request by calling (530) 225-2275. Copies of the Draft SEIR are also available for review at DFG regional offices including:

Region 1 601 Locust St., Redding
Region 2 1701 Nimbus Road, Suite A, Rancho Cordova
Region 3 7329 Silverado Trail, Napa
Region 4 1234 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno
Region 5 4949 Viewridge Ave., San Diego
Region 6 3602 Inland Empire Blvd., Suite C-220, Ontario
Region 6 4665 Lampson Avenue, Suite J, Los Alamitos (second location)
Region 7  20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Suite 100, Monterey
HQ          1807 13th St., Suite 104, Sacramento

Five public meetings will be held in late March. All interested persons are encouraged to attend to present written and/or verbal comments. The meetings will be held at the following locations and times:

Santa Clarita:
Wednesday, March 23 at 5 p.m.
Residence Inn by Marriott
25320 The Old Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91381

Thursday, March 24 at 5 p.m.
California Retired Teachers Association
3930 East Saginaw Way
Fresno, CA 93726

Tuesday, March 29 at 5 p.m.
Cal EPA Headquarters Building
Byron Sher Auditorium
1001 I St.

Wednesday, March 30 at 5 p.m.
Yreka Community Center
810 N. Oregon St.
Yreka, CA 96097

Thursday, March 31 at 5 p.m.
Shasta Senior Nutrition Program
100 Mercy Oaks Drive
Redding, CA 96003

Written comments will also be accepted from Feb. 28 through April 29, 2011 at 5 p.m. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to dfgsuctiondredge@dfg.ca.gov or by regular mail to:

Mark Stopher
California Department of Fish and Game
601 Locust St.
Redding, CA 96001

Comments received by the due date will be included in the final SEIR that will be prepared for the Director of DFG.

For more information about the public meetings or the suction dredge program, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/suctiondredge/. If you require reasonable accommodation to attend a meeting or require this notice or the Draft SEIR in an alternate format, please contact the Suction Dredge Program at (530) 225-2275, or the California Relay (Telephone) Service for the deaf or hearing-impaired from TDD phones at 1-800-735-2929 or 711.

Drawings Planned for 2011 Lake Sonoma Spring Turkey Hunts

Stacy Martinelli, DFG Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5537
Eric Larson, DFG Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5528
Kyle Orr, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8958

The permit drawing application deadline is approaching for two spring turkey hunts planned for the Lake Sonoma Turkey Hunt Program. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is providing this special hunting opportunity in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG). The hunts will be held on USACE property surrounding Lake Sonoma in Sonoma County.California Wild Turkey

The hunts include an Apprentice Spring Turkey Hunt and a General Spring Turkey Hunt. The Apprentice Spring Turkey Hunt is scheduled for March 26-27 and the General Spring Turkey Hunt is scheduled for April 2-3. DFG will accept online applications for both hunts through March 7.

A total of 15 apprentice hunters will be drawn for the Apprentice Spring Turkey Hunt and 15 general public hunters will be drawn for the General Spring Turkey Hunt. Each successfully drawn applicant may be accompanied by one other hunter. Please note that both hunters in the hunt party must be listed on the hunt application.

Apprentice hunters must possess a valid California junior hunting license. Apprentice hunt parties may also include either another licensed apprentice hunter or a licensed adult hunter as the second party member. Two apprentice hunters must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult. For the General Hunt each hunt party may consist of up to two licensed hunters.

The application, along with further details, can be found on the DFG Web site at www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/hunts/turkey/.

The Lake Sonoma Turkey Hunt Program consists of non-fee, limited-permit hunts that are open only to successful applicants on specific dates during the appropriate spring and fall turkey hunt seasons. The Lake Sonoma turkey hunt area is not open to the public for turkey hunting except for these special hunting opportunities.

The 2011 spring turkey hunting regulations summary can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/.

San Francisco Abalone Poacher Busted Three Times in Three Weeks

Media Contact:
Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095

A San Francisco man was recently caught poaching abalone during the closed season – for the third time in three weeks. The last arrest came on Feb. 19, 2011, when game wardens from the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) arrested Qiong Wang, 31, for felony conspiracy and take of abalone for commercial purposes, among other charges. Wardens also arrested Wang’s companion, Michael Trevors, 28, of San Francisco, on similar charges.

On Feb. 2, an officer from the Petaluma Police Department contacted Wang in Petaluma during an investigation of another crime. He found him in possession of five abalone. The officer was aware that abalone season was closed. He cited and released Wang for four poaching misdemeanors (unlawful take, take of abalone out of season, possession of an overlimit and failure to tag).

On Feb. 12, a Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputy stopped Wang for speeding on Highway 28 near Boonville. The deputy found two wet duffel bags containing fresh abalone in the back seat and contacted his dispatch to request assistance from a DFG warden. Warden Don Powers responded and discovered 36 red abalone, five of which were undersize. Powers also found five SCUBA tanks and associated SCUBA diving gear in the trunk of Wang’s car. Wang was booked into Mendocino County Jail for possession of abalone for commercial sale. His Toyota sedan and all dive gear were seized as evidence.

On Feb. 19, five days after being released from jail for the last poaching incident, Wang and Trevors were spotted using SCUBA gear to poach abalone from a rented kayak in Van Damme State Park. For approximately two hours, wardens watched as the partners kayaked into the ocean and collected 55 abalone. The men returned to shore, stashed the abalone near the beach and drove to the Sub-Surface Progression dive shop in Fort Bragg to return the rented kayak. Wardens contacted the pair at the dive shop. Both men were arrested and booked into Mendocino County Jail. Wardens recovered the hidden abalone and Trevors’ vehicle and all related dive gear were seized.

Despite aggressive enforcement and prosecution, wardens have noticed an increase in abalone poaching over the last few years, on the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts in particular. “For many abalone poachers, the profit from the illegal sale of abalone clearly outweighs the risks of getting caught,” said DFG Assistant Chief Tony Warrington.
Abalone season closed Dec. 1, and does not reopen until April 1.

For more information, please see www.dfg.ca.gov/news/news10/2010062401-Poaching-Sonoma-Mendocino.html.

Applications Now Being Accepted for Special Turkey Hunts at Lake Mendocino

Media Contacts:
Scott Koller, DFG Northern Region, (707) 456-0329
Wayne Shull, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, (707) 467-4239

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is accepting applications for spring wild turkey hunts, including several for youth hunters and mobility impaired hunters. Three such weekends of hunting are being offered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) at Lake Mendocino, in cooperation with DFG’s Northern Region and Game Bird Heritage Program. Several hunting opportunities are designed for a hunter to share his or her hunting experience with a guest.

Adult hunters must have a valid 2010-2011 California hunting license and a valid Upland Game Bird Stamp. Youth hunt applicants must be age 16 years or younger as of July 1 and have a valid junior hunting license, and must be accompanied in the field by a non-hunting adult 18 years or older. The applicant’s license number must be written on the application.

At this time, applications for the mobility impaired hunts cannot be submitted online.

Applicants can download the form at www.dfg.ca.gov/hunting/docs/2011SpringTurkeyHuntsApp.pdf, complete, print, and fax it to (916) 445-4048 or mail it to:

Department of Fish and Game

GBH Special Hunts

1812 Ninth St.

Sacramento, CA 95811-7012

For other hunts, applicants can complete the registration process online at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/GameBirdHeritageHunts/Default.aspx.

All applications must be received by 5 p.m. on the date of the corresponding hunt deadline, as indicated below.

Junior mobility impaired/disabled only weekend hunt:

March 19-20, individual hunter, mailed application due by March 1.

Mobility impaired/disabled only weekend hunts:

March 26-27, individual hunter, mailed application due by March 8.

April 9-10, individual hunter, mailed application due by March 22.

Junior Spring weekend hunts:

March 19-20, junior hunter plus one junior guest, application due March 1.

April 23-24, junior hunter plus one junior guest, application due April 5.

May 7-8, individual junior hunter, application due April 19.

May 14-15, individual junior hunter, application due April 19.

General Spring weekend hunts:

April 2-3, hunter plus one guest, application due March 15.

April 16-17, hunter plus one guest, application due March 22.

April 30-May 1, hunter plus one guest, application due April 5.

All random drawings will take place immediately following the deadline. Successful applicants will be notified by mail approximately one week after the drawing.

Successful applicants must RSVP to the Lake Mendocino USACE Office at least eight days prior to their drawn hunt date, and must check in at the USACE Park Office, 1160 Lake Mendocino Dr., Ukiah, 95482-9404, either the day prior to the event (between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.) or the day of the event (between 7:45 and 9 a.m. only).

Additional information about the check-in process, park rules, parking, boat launching, accessing the designated hunt area and maps of Lake Mendocino Park are available at www.spn.usace.army.mil/mendocino/hunting.htm, or you may call the USACE Park Office at (707) 467-4239.

Fort Bragg Warden Honored by National Wild Turkey Federation

Media Contacts:
Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8988

Warden Don Powers
Warden Don Powers

Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Warden Don Powers of Fort Bragg has been named 2010 Officer of the Year by the California Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).

“Since joining DFG in 2007, Warden Powers has proven to be a tenacious enforcer of laws that protect California’s fish, wildlife and habitat,” said Nancy Foley, Chief of DFG’s Law Enforcement Division.

Due to his coastal location, Warden Powers spends a high percentage of his time pursuing abalone poachers. However, he also enjoys heading east into the rural Mendocino County mountains to patrol for habitat and streambed violations, and deer and turkey poaching. Powers is known to hike for many miles to track down wildlife law violators. When off duty, he always makes time to maintain his physical fitness, which also aids him in pursuing his favorite pastime of turkey hunting.

Turkeys factored into one of Powers’ larger cases last year, when DFG discovered an illegal 15,000 plant marijuana cultivation site with significant pollution and habitat destruction violations. Throughout the grow site, which was in an area known for wild turkeys, Powers found piles of turkey feathers. In the middle of the camp, he found a bucket with a freshly killed turkey alongside another bucket with a freshly killed deer fawn. The carcasses were proof of two poaching violations to add to a very long list of environmental crimes committed at the cultivation site.

In addition to being skilled at handling complex cases involving multiple violators, Warden Powers is known for his ability to effectively communicate with law-abiding hunters, sharing tips on how to catch the most egregious offenders and engaging the public in his efforts to ensure that violators are found and brought to justice. He has a reputation for being fair and treating all those he encounters with courtesy and respect.

The NWTF is a national nonprofit conservation and hunting organization that, along with its volunteers, partners and sponsors, has worked for the conservation of the wild turkey and preservation of the hunting heritage for nearly 40 years. When the NWTF was established in 1973, there were only 1.3 million wild turkeys. Today that number stands at more than seven million birds throughout North America and hunting seasons have been established in 49 states, Canada and Mexico. Every year, NWTF honors a California game warden who serves as an outstanding example of their mission on behalf of wild turkeys, turkey hunting and wildlife conservation.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News