Tag Archives: California Fish and Game Commission

Colusa County Chief Deputy District Attorney Named 2015 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year

The California Fish and Game Commission yesterday recognized Colusa County Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Beauchamp as the 2015 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year.

Beauchamp was selected from the ranks of California’s 58 counties to receive this notable distinction because of his unwavering commitment to protecting California’s natural resources. The award was presented last night amongst a congregation of Beauchamp’s peers at the California District Attorneys Association annual summer conference in San Diego.

“The Fish and Game Commission has a wide range of regulatory responsibilities related to protecting and conserving California’s fish, wildlife and the habitat they depend on for future generations,” said Commissioner Peter Silva, who presented the award. “State wildlife officers go to great lengths to build solid cases, but taking the steps to bring cases to convictions requires immeasurable dedication, exceptional knowledge of fish and game laws and superior skill in prosecuting crimes against wildlife, natural resources and the environment.”

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division, over the last few years Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Beauchamp has been instrumental in handling fish and game prosecutions for Colusa County. He is always available and approachable for questions and advice in case handling. He readily assists with, and reviews, search warrants for CDFW Wildlife Officers.

As a prosecutor, Beauchamp goes above and beyond to assure thorough case filings, which he handles with seriousness and diligence. Beauchamp pays special attention and gives focused interest in cases involving blatant and intentional poaching and steadfastly prosecutes those cases as felonies where applicable.

Beauchamp prosecuted several cases over the last few years involving Sacramento area poachers who traveled to Colusa County to poach deer and wild pigs. He also prosecuted a case dubbed “Operation High Hog” involving four subjects taking deer, elk and wild pigs to sell for personal profit. Beauchamp fought for unprecedented convictions and sentences, which resulted in multiple felony charges and prison sentences. These higher sentences resulted from a three-day felony jury trial that took extensive time and resources on behalf of Beauchamp and the Colusa County District Attorney’s office, but was done so without hesitation.

“It’s funny to be awarded for something that seems like part of my nature,” Beauchamp said. “As an outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman, I care deeply about conservation of the state’s public resources. I can’t thank the department and commission enough for the work they do to protect those resources. I am proud to continue working with them to support their important mission.”

At its meeting last week in Bakersfield, the Commission formalized the process of selecting a Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year, making it an annual award. In an effort to address wildlife crime and to recognize leaders in the District Attorneys’ offices throughout the state, the new policy states that the Commission will honor a courtroom champion who tirelessly prosecutes crimes against fish, wildlife, natural resources and the environment in California courts.

The award recognizes one attorney who exhibits one or more of the following:

  • exceptional skill and an outstanding commitment to protecting California’s fish, wildlife and natural resources;
  • superior performance in prosecuting crimes against wildlife, natural resources and the environment;
  • relentless pursuit of justice for the most egregious violators and keen ability to prosecute complex, controversial or landmark cases; or
  • exemplary work promoting and maintaining a collaborative working relationship with wildlife officers in pursuit of conserving our natural resources.

The selection process is based upon recommendations from the CDFW Law Enforcement Division, who regularly work with the various District Attorneys’ offices.

CDFW and the Commission recognize and appreciate the efforts of all 58 counties’ District Attorneys’ offices when it comes to protection of the environment, fish and wildlife. There are many prosecutors within those offices who take poaching crimes seriously. CDFW remains committed to working with each of those offices to provide as much information as needed to assist in bringing these crimes to convictions.

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

Commission Hires New Executive Director

The California Fish and Game Commission announced today the hiring of Valerie Termini to serve as its Executive Director.

Ms. Termini comes from California Ocean Protection Council staff where she has served as the fisheries policy advisor and as interim Executive Director.

“We look forward to Ms. Termini’s guidance at the dais,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham. “We’ve heard from a number of stakeholders that the Executive Director should be up to speed with the Commission’s vast authorities and have specific knowledge of marine policy issues. Ms. Termini’s background brings precisely this expertise.”

“We’re very pleased that Ms. Termini has stepped up to serve this historic Commission,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “She has shown real vision in addressing challenges and has demonstrated expertise in facilitating resolution to complex issues working with diverse groups of stakeholders. We are thrilled that she will be bringing this skill from her previous experience to the Commission’s work to the great benefit of the state.”

Ms. Termini will be the first female Executive Director in the Commission’s history. She begins on May 16.

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

CDFW Awards $31.4 Million to Fund Ecosystem and Watershed Restoration Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 24 projects that will receive funding from its Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1) Restoration Grant Programs

The grants, which total $31.4 million, are CDFW’s first distribution of funds through these programs. They include approximately $24.6 million awarded through the Watershed Restoration Grant Program to projects of statewide importance outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; and approximately $6.8 million awarded through the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program for projects that benefit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta specifically.

In response to this first solicitation, announced last August, CDFW received 190 proposals requesting a total of $218 million in funding. All proposals underwent an initial administrative review, and those that passed were evaluated through a technical review process that included reviews by CDFW scientists, as well as experts from other agencies and academia.

The 24 approved projects will further the objectives of the California Water Action Plan, including establishing more reliable water supplies, restoring important species and habitat, and creating a more resilient and sustainably managed water resources system (e.g., water supply, water quality, flood protection and habitat) that can better withstand inevitable and unforeseen pressures in the coming decades.

“These projects achieve the spirit and intent of Proposition 1 to protect and restore important ecosystems around the state,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Investing in these projects is exciting. These projects prove we can conserve California’s natural resources, while also contributing to other critical statewide needs, such as enhancing water supply reliability.”

Californians overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1 in November 2014. CDFW received its first appropriation of funds for allocation July 2015. In a little over one year from voter approval, and just more than six months from legislative appropriations, CDFW is awarding these first grants with Proposition 1 funds.

Projects approved for funding through the Watershed Restoration Grant Program include:

  • Reclamation District 2035/Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency Joint Intake and Fish Screen ($8,128,621 to Reclamation District 2035);
  • South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project Phase 2: Ravenswood and Mt. View Ponds ($5,000,000 to California State Coastal Conservancy);
  • San Joaquin River – Invasive Species Management and Job Creation Project ($1,497,843 to River Partners);
  • San Joaquin River – Native Habitat Restoration and Species Enhancement at Dos Rios Ranch ($798,978 to River Partners);
  • North Campus Open Space Coastal Wetland Restoration Project ($997,095 to Regents of University California, Santa Barbara);
  • San Francisco Estuary Invasive Spartina Removal and Tidal Marsh Restoration Project ($3,000,000 to California State Coastal Conservancy);
  • Tuolumne River Bobcat Flat Salmonid Habitat Restoration-Duck Slough Side Channel Restoration for Off-Channel Rearing Habitat ($453,618 to Tuolumne River Conservancy);
  • Native Trout Preservation in the Santa Ana Watershed in Southern California ($44,093 to Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District);
  • Restoring Fish Migration Connectivity to the Salt River Coastal Watershed ($1,995,438 to Humboldt County Resource Conservation District);
  • Grasslands Floodplain Restoration Project ($576,351 to American Rivers);
  • Perazzo Meadows Restoration ($607,889 to Truckee River Watershed Council);
  • San Gabriel Watershed Restoration Program ($65,000 to Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District);
  • Sequoia National Forest Prioritized Meadows Restoration Project ($486,173 to Trout Unlimited); and
  • Lower Putah Creek Watershed Restoration ($990,312 to Solano County Water Agency).

Projects approved for funding through the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program include:

  • Reconstructing juvenile salmon growth, condition and Delta habitat use in the 2014-15 drought and beyond ($800,484 to Regents of the University of California, Davis, Center for Watershed Sciences);
  • Drought-related high water temperature impacts survival of California salmonids through disease, increasing predation risk ($625,740 to Regents of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine);
  • Hydrodynamic influences on the food webs of restoring tidal wetlands ($867,235 to Regents of the University of California, Davis, Center for Watershed Sciences);
  • Rush Ranch Lower Spring Branch Creek and Suisun Hill Hollow Tidal Connections Project ($839,449 to Solano Land Trust);
  • Mechanisms underlying the flow relationship of longfin smelt: I. Movement and feeding ($1,263,991 to San Francisco State University);
  • The Effect of Drought on Delta Smelt Vital Rates ($678,275 to Regents of the University of California, Davis, Office of Research, Sponsored Programs);
  • Yolo Bypass Westside Tributaries Flow Monitoring Project ($331,148 to Yolo County);
  • Problems and Promise of Restoring Tidal Marsh to Benefit Native Fishes in the North Delta during Drought and Flood ($969,238 to Regents of the University of California, Davis, Center for Watershed Sciences);
  • Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Habitat and Drainage Improvement Project Permitting ($145,944 to Ducks Unlimited); and
  • Knightsen Wetland Restoration and Flood Protection Project ($240,000 to East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy).

More information about CDFW’s Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/grants. Funding for these projects comes from the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act 2014 (Proposition 1) bond funds, a portion of which are allocated annually through the California State Budget Act. More information about Proposition 1 can be found here.

Emergency Crab Closure Recommended, Commission to Meet Thursday

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a health advisory warning individuals to avoid eating rock and Dungeness crab due to the detection of high levels of domoic acid. The advisory was followed by a recommendation from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to the California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to delay the start of the Dungeness crab season and close the rock crab fishery. These actions would apply to each fishery from the Oregon border to the southern Santa Barbara County line.

The OEHHA recommendation has prompted an emergency meeting of the Commission, which will take place at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5 (agenda and meeting information). At that time, the Commission will consider voting to delay the opening of the recreational Dungeness crab fishery. The recreational Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to start Saturday, Nov. 7.

Also based on the recommendation from OEHHA, CDFW will act on its authority to delay the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season. The commercial Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to start Sunday, Nov. 15 in most of the state.

Similar action will be considered by the Commission and CDFW to close the recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries in the affected area. Both recreational and commercial rock crab seasons are open all year.

“These are incredibly important fisheries to our coastal economies and fresh crab is highly anticipated and widely enjoyed this time of year. Of course, delaying or closing the season is disappointing,” said CDFW Marine Regional Manager Craig Shuman. “But public health and safety is our top priority.”

CDFW, along with the OEHHA and CDPH, has been actively testing crabs since early September. OEHHA announced today that consumption of Dungeness and rock crabs is likely to pose a significant human health risk as a result of high levels of domoic acid. CDFW will continue to coordinate with OEHHA and CDPH to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened.

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.

Domoic acid is produced from some species of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. Currently, a massive toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia has developed, significantly impacting marine life along California’s coast. State scientists have been testing crab from eight fishing ports from Morro Bay to Crescent City, and have determined that the neurotoxin has spread throughout the fishery grounds.

Algal blooms are common, but this one is particularly large and persistent. Warmer ocean water temperatures associated with the El Niño event California is experiencing is likely a major contributing factor to the size and persistence of this bloom.

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

Public Comment Sought for Review of Newly Protected Tarplant

The Livermore tarplant (Deinandra bacigalupii), known to exist only at a few locations in Alameda County, has been designated a candidate species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) requests comments from the public for its review of the status of the Livermore tarplant.

Livermore tarplant is in the sunflower family and it has yellow flower heads that bloom in summer and early fall. Livermore tarplant also has sticky glands that give plants a strong odor. Only four populations of Livermore tarplant are known to exist, all in the eastern portion of Livermore Valley within the city of Livermore and unincorporated Alameda County. Livermore tarplant is found in alkaline meadows where salts form whitish or grayish crusts on the soil and few plants can grow.

The California Fish and Game Commission received a petition to list Livermore tarplant under CESA in August 2014. At a publicly noticed meeting on April 9, 2015 the commission considered the petition, a petition evaluation report prepared by CDFW and comments received by the public. The commission concluded the petition provided sufficient scientific information to indicate listing Livermore tarplant under CESA may be warranted, and therefore designated Livermore tarplant as a candidate species for listing. The petition to list Livermore tarplant and CDFW’s petition evaluation report can be found on the commission website at www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/2014/index.aspx#lt.

CDFW is in the process of preparing a review of Livermore tarplant’s status as required by CESA. The review must be based upon the best scientific information available to CDFW, and must include a recommendation to the commission on whether or not listing Livermore tarplant is warranted. As such, CDFW invites anyone interested to submit data and comments during preparation of the status review to nativeplants@wildlife.ca.gov no later than December 31, 2015. After CDFW completes the status review, it will be posted on CDFW’s website for at least 30 days and sent to the commission.

The commission will decide whether or not to list Livermore tarplant as a threatened or endangered species at a public meeting after public comments are received.

The provisions of CESA apply to Livermore tarplant while it is a candidate species. CESA prohibits the import, export, take, possession, purchase or sale of listed and candidate species except in limited circumstances, such as through a permit issued by CDFW under the authority of the Fish and Game Code. CDFW may issue permits that allow the incidental take of listed and candidate species if the take is minimized and fully mitigated and the activity will not jeopardize the continued existence of the species. Information on CESA permitting for plants is available on the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Plants/Permits.

Media Contacts:
Jeb Bjerke, CDFW Native Plant Program, (916) 651-6594
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420