Tag Archives: California Fish and Game Commission

Sage-Grouse Hunting Suspended for 2017 Season

On June 21, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) voted unanimously to reduce sage-grouse hunting permits to zero for the 2017 season. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommended this action to the Commission based on spring lek (breeding ground) surveys that showed significantly fewer sage-grouse in all four hunting zones.

Although managed hunting, in and of itself, is not considered a risk to the species, five years of drought conditions, the large-scale Rush Fire of 2012 and heavy storms in winter 2016-17 have all contributed to habit loss and degradation of the sagebrush ecosystem. Scientists found that sage-grouse population counts have decreased between 47 percent and 62 percent in the four hunt zones over the last five years.

CDFW bases its population estimates on extensive scientific data collected in the field. However, heavy winter snow hampered biologists’ access to sage-grouse leks this spring, and some sage-grouse that were present in the survey area may not have been accounted for in the survey. CDFW thus took a precautionary approach in making its recommendation to the Commission.

Sage-grouse populations fluctuate naturally based on weather and habitat conditions. By this fall, California’s sage-grouse population is projected to be 1,341 on the low end and 2,145 on the high end.

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies coordinates conservation efforts across the 11 western states and two Canadian provinces where sage-grouse live. Leaders from dozens of participating state and federal agencies meet quarterly to work toward achieving shared conservation goals.

In 2015, a proposal to list the sage-grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act was determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be not warranted, following review of stakeholder-developed conservation plans and amendments to federal land use plans throughout the species range, including California.

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Media Contact:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 591-0140

 

2016 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Announced

(Photo, left to right: California Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar, Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Sabrina Ashjian, CDFW Chief of Enforcement David Bess.)

The California Fish and Game Commission has honored Fresno County Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Sabrina Ashjian as the Commission’s 2016 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year. The selection process was based upon nominations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division, whose wildlife officers regularly work with all 58 District Attorneys’ offices.

The award was presented to DDA Ashjian amongst her peers last night at the California District Attorneys Association annual summer conference in South Lake Tahoe.

“We recognize prosecuting attorneys as an integral partner in the effort to conserve California’s fish and wildlife resources for its intrinsic value and for future generations,” said Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar. President Sklar was in South Lake Tahoe to present the award.

CDFW and the Commission recognize many prosecuting attorneys who go above and beyond to prosecute the state’s poachers and polluters, but this year, DDA Ashjian stood out among the rest.

Ashjian was always willing to meet with wildlife officers in Fresno County on moment’s notice, after hours, and on weekends to review details of investigations. During many investigations of the most egregious poaching cases, Ashjian remained available and supportive every step of the way. She even took the initiative to ride-along on patrol with wildlife officers to better understand the challenging investigations and unique nature of a wildlife officer’s work.

Ashjian has gone out of her way to be a liaison between CDFW and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office. During her tenure, she has taken time to educate and share insight about CDFW and resource crimes to her co-workers and in turn has educated wildlife officers about the challenges of prosecutions and how to overcome them.

“As passionate as our wildlife officers are at bringing suspected poachers to justice, DDA Ashjian is at prosecuting them,” said David Bess, Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division. Chief Bess was also on hand to present the award last night.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Cpt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

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.