California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Sacramento

California Fish and Game Commission logo

At its February meeting in Sacramento, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from the one-day meeting.

The Commission reelected Commissioner Eric Sklar as President and elected Commissioner Samantha Murray as Vice President. Current co-chair assignments were retained for the three committees: commissioners Peter Silva and Murray for the Marine Resources Committee, commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Silva for the Tribal Committee, and commissioners Sklar and Russell Burns for the Wildlife Resources Committee.

Commission Executive Director Melissa Miller-Henson announced plans to celebrate the Commission’s and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) joint 150th anniversary on April 2, 2020 at the State Capitol.

The Commission received a petition evaluation in which CDFW recommended that listing an evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) of mountain lion (southern and central coastal) as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act may be warranted. The Commission will decide whether or not listing may be warranted in April. Preceding this receipt, CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham made a presentation about recent events related to mountain lions and a new significant change to CDFW mountain lion policy. The change expands the geographic range of sensitive populations of mountain lion from strictly the Santa Ana and Santa Monica mountain ranges to the entire range covered under the ESU in the listing petition.

The Commission adopted emergency regulations for recreational take of purple sea urchin at Caspar Cove in Mendocino County as part of a broader study to support recovery of kelp and species that depend on kelp.

The Commission determined that there is sufficient information to indicate that a change in the status of Clara Hunt’s milkvetch from threatened to endangered may be warranted and that it is now a candidate for change of species’ status from threatened to endangered. Clara Hunt’s milkvetch is a plant species in the legume family only found along the border between Napa and Sonoma counties.

After hearing impassioned arguments from stakeholders, the Commission voted unanimously to adopt its first Delta Fisheries Management Policy and an amended Striped Bass Policy.

“I’m proud of the work of our stakeholders, staff of the Commission and CDFW, and Commissioners in reaching this point, recognizing that this is just the beginning of a long effort to effect the changes in the policies to restore the health of the Delta,” said President Sklar.

President Sklar requested that the Commission add language to the Striped Bass Policy to support the “vitality” of the fishery. The newly adopted Delta Fisheries Management Policy calls out explicit support for all game fish fisheries, committing to the striped bass fishery as well as recovery of native species.

Commission President Sklar, Vice President Hostler-Carmesin and Commissioners Burns and Silva were present. Commissioner Murray was absent.

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for April 15 and 16 in Sacramento.

###

The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.

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

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Sacramento

At its December 2019 meeting in Sacramento, the California Fish and Game Commission  took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from the two-day meeting.

The Commission made a listing decision under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) regarding the foothill yellow-legged frog. Due to the level of genetic divergence, geographic isolation, and differing levels of imperilment between populations and threats within these populations, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommended separating the listing into different clades for the foothill yellow-legged frog. The Commission’s decision was consistent with that recommendation. The Commission listed the Southern Sierra, Central Coast and South Coast clades as endangered under CESA, and the Feather River and Northern Sierra clades as threatened under CESA. The Commission also decided that listing the North Coast clade is not warranted at this time. The Commission is scheduled to adopt findings for the decision at its February 2020 meeting.

The Commission recognized five newly inducted members of the California Waterfowler’s Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees are L. Ryan Broddrick, Dean A. Cortopassi, John M. Eadie, Richard Janson and Mickey W. Saso. The California Waterfowler’s Hall of Fame was established in 2006 to recognize those individuals who have made significant contributions to enhancing waterfowl and their habitats in California.

After hearing from numerous Delta anglers, the Commission voted to postpone adoption of a Delta Fisheries Management Policy and potential amendments to the Commission’s Striped Bass Policy to a future meeting.

Successful and sound management of game populations has allowed for the Commission to authorize publication of notice to amend hunting regulations for big game mammals and waterfowl. Amendments to be considered include additional hunting opportunities in some elk and desert bighorn sheep zones where populations continue to thrive, and new hunting opportunities for veterans and active military personnel for waterfowl hunting.

The Commission authorized publication of notice to amend the regulations for CDFW lands to add properties to the lists of wildlife areas and ecological reserves, and to remove properties from those lists for which CDFW no longer has management authority. This focused regulatory package also proposes authorization of new site-specific public uses, as well as other amendments to address operational or public safety concerns.

The Commission received an annual report from CDFW on management activities of the Statewide Marine Protected Area Program and heard other marine-related items.

The Commission also elected to move the dates of the next meeting to Feb. 20-21, 2020 with marine items being heard on the first day and wildlife items on the second day.

Commission President Eric Sklar, Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Commissioner Samantha Murray were present. Commissioners Russell Burns and Peter Silva were absent.

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days.

###

The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in San Diego

At its October 9-10, 2019 meeting in San Diego County, the California Fish and Game Commission discussed and took action on several items that relate to California’s natural resources.

The Commissioners unanimously adopted regulations to issue experimental fishing permits to support sustainable fisheries and promote innovation in California. The new regulations allow experimental fishing permits to be issued to those fishermen who participated in the 2018 box crab experimental gear permit program. Next year, the Commission will consider adopting regulations to establish an experimental fishing permit program.

The Herring Fishery Management Plan (FMP), and accompanying Pacific Herring regulations, were also unanimously adopted. The FMP formalizes Pacific Herring management strategies that are responsive to environmental and socioeconomic changes while also preserving the sustainability of the fishery within the context of the entire ecosystem. Among other changes, the regulations establish a recreational bag limit for Herring and allow for the regulation of the commercial Herring fishery under the Herring FMP.

The Commission also evaluated and discussed a state water bottom lease application from the Malibu Oyster Company, which is proposing to locate a shellfish aquaculture operation in Santa Monica Bay, approximately a mile offshore in Malibu. Preliminary considerations for the Commission included previous leases or uses of the site granted by State Lands Commission (of which there were none) and whether there were any known water quality issues (there were none at this time). Additional assessment of environmental impacts and public concerns still lie ahead. The Commission unanimously voted to allow the proposal to move forward for environmental review, tribal notification and public noticing. The proposal is still in the early stages of review and must gain many additional levels of approval, including from the Coastal Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies, before the project comes to fruition.

All members of the Commission were present at the meeting, including President Eric Sklar, Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Commissioners Russell Burns, Samantha Murray and Peter Silva.

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days.

###

Media Contact:
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

San Bernardino kangaroo rat

CDFW Seeks Information Related to San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking information relevant to a proposal to list the San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus) as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act.

In March 2019, the Endangered Habitats League submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission to formally list the San Bernardino kangaroo rat as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The listing petition and CDFW’s petition evaluation described a variety of threats to the survival of the species in California. These include direct and indirect impacts associated with habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, habitat degradation, small and fragmented subpopulations, loss of ecological processes maintaining habitat suitability, low genetic diversity and climate change. CDFW recommended and the Commission voted to advance the species to candidacy on Aug. 7, 2019. The Commission published findings of this decision on Aug. 23, 2019, triggering a 12-month period during which CDFW will conduct a status review to inform the Commission’s decision on whether to list the species.

As part of the status review process, CDFW is soliciting information from the public regarding the San Bernardino kangaroo rat’s ecology, genetics, life history, distribution, abundance, habitat, the degree and immediacy of threats to reproduction or survival, adequacy of existing management and recommendations for management of the species. Comments, data and other information can be submitted in writing to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Attn: Scott Osborn
1812 Ninth St.
Sacramento, CA 95811

Comments may also be submitted by email to wildlifemgt@wildlife.ca.gov. If submitting comments by email, please include “SBKR” in the subject heading.

All comments received by Sept. 27, 2019 will be evaluated prior to submittal of the CDFW status review report to the Commission. Receipt of the report will be placed on the agenda for the next available meeting of the Commission after delivery and the report will be made available to the public at that time. Following the receipt of the CDFW report, the Commission will allow a 30-day public comment period prior to taking any action on CDFW’s recommendation.

The listing petition and CDFW’s petition evaluation for the kangaroo rat is available at
https://fgc.ca.gov/cesa#sbkr.

###

Media Contacts:
Scott Osborn, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 324-3564
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Sacramento

At its August 2019 meeting in Sacramento, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from the two-day meeting.

The Commission and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division David Bess presented an award to Jessica Brown, who earned the title of 2018 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year. Brown is Supervising City Attorney for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Environmental Justice Unit. As she accepted the award, Brown acknowledged her team of superb prosecutors, all of whom are highly dedicated to the successful prosecution of fish and wildlife cases. Brown, along with her team, has shown steadfast dedication to CDFW’s cases and to protecting and conserving California’s natural resources.

At the Commission meeting Chief Bess also presented the Wildlife Officer of the Year Award to Warden Anastasia Norris for her exceptional efforts to investigate highly technical petroleum pollution cases and guide them to conviction. She took the initiative to become a pipeline and corrosion expert and this has benefitted CDFW in many oil spill cases. Her work on the May 2015 Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara kept her stationed away from her family for three months. Norris accepted the award with her family present.

The Commission honored Valerie Termini for her service as Executive Director from 2016-2018. Termini was the first ever female Executive Director of the Commission and brought integrity and professionalism to the position. President Eric Sklar presented Termini with a Commission resolution and gift from the commissioners. Termini served as Executive Director until CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham requested she serve in an acting role as CDFW Chief Deputy Director in November, a position to which she was officially appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom in June.

The Commission began the regulatory process to ban possession of live nutria, a large, brown, fur-bearing, aquatic rodent native to South America. CDFW is seeking a regulatory change from the Commission in order to prevent further spread of this persistent invasive species. In California, nutria pose a significant threat as an agricultural pest, a destroyer of critical wetlands needed by native wildlife, and a public safety risk as their destructive burrowing jeopardizes the state’s water delivery and flood control infrastructure. CDFW has a robust detection and eradication effort underway in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in order to limit the invasive rodents’ spread and impact on California’s most important water resource and the heart of the state’s water delivery and infrastructure.

The Commission also determined that listing San Bernardino kangaroo rat as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review of the species and the Commission will make a final decision at a future meeting. During the status review, the San Bernardino kangaroo rat is protected under CESA as a candidate species.

The Commission also directed staff to continue working with CDFW and stakeholders to revise a draft Delta fisheries management policy, including potential revisions to the existing striped bass policy.

President Sklar and Commissioners Russell Burns, Samantha Murray and Peter Silva were present. Commission Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin was absent.

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days.

###

The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.

 

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