Tag Archives: conservation

Responsible Angling Practices Help Conserve Sturgeon Populations

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is asking anglers to use caution and extra vigilance to help conserve California’s white sturgeon and green sturgeon populations, both of which are being impacted by the drought. Sturgeon are caught by anglers year-round in a popular sport fishery centered in the San Francisco Estuary, but anglers — especially those fishing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers — need to be aware of special regulations in place to protect and grow the populations.

man on boat deck writes data about a white sturgeon laying in front of him
Fisheries Biologist Mike Harris keeps careful records while conducting the annual CDFW sturgeon survey

White sturgeon is a substantial management concern and green sturgeon is a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. Green sturgeon may not be fished for, removed from the water if caught, or kept. White sturgeon may only be kept if between 40 and 60 inches and caught by anglers in possession of Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards (including single-use tags) while using single barbless hooks in areas that are not closed.

Strict fishing regulations are designed primarily to conserve older white sturgeon and ensure that all sturgeon survive catch-and-release. The effectiveness of catch-and-release depends in large part on angler technique. CDFW encourages anglers to use high-strength fishing line to reduce duration of the fight and in-water techniques for measuring the size of white sturgeon. Anglers should leave oversize white sturgeon in the water at all times and know how to quickly identify green sturgeon.

In 2014, California anglers reported keeping 2,286 white sturgeon while releasing 4,565 white sturgeon (most were undersized) and 183 green sturgeon. Other data on the white sturgeon fishery and population is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/data/sturgeon/bibliography.asp.

A flyer on identifying green sturgeon can be found at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentId=105326.

The complete fishing regulations are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

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Media Contacts:
Marty Gingras, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (209) 234-3486
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Now Accepting Applications for Fisheries Restoration Grants

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting grant applications for anadromous salmonid restoration projects that address impacts of the ongoing drought. Drought restoration funds will be granted to projects located in anadromous waters within coastal watersheds and the Central Valley.

Eligible applicants include public agencies, recognized tribes and qualified nonprofit organizations. Funding for drought restoration will total approximately $1.5 million and will be focused on habitat restoration, water conservation, education and drought planning.

The 2015 Summer Proposal Solicitation Notice for Drought Restoration Grants and the application is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Administration/Grants/FRGP/Solicitation.asp.

Completed applications should be sent to the CDFW Fisheries Restoration Grant Program, 830 S Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. Applications must be received by July 24, 2015 (postmarks will not be accepted).

Approved projects will start no later than June 1, 2016, and end no later than March 1, 2018. Proposal timeframes must occur within this period. For information or questions about the solicitation or application process, please contact Patty Forbes, Grant Program Coordinator, at (916) 327-8842, or Kevin Shaffer, Anadromous Program Manager, at (916) 327-8841.

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Media Contacts:
Patty Forbes, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8842

Kevin Shaffer, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8841
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its May 21 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $17.8 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 19 funded projects will benefit fish and wildlife – including some endangered species – while others will provide the public with access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, land owners and the local community. The funds for all these projects come from initiatives approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:

  • A $360,000 grant to American Rivers, Inc., for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), US Forest Service (USFS), Wildlife Conservation Society, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Alpine Watershed Group, for ecological restoration of the West Fork Carson River in CDFW’s Hope Valley Wildlife Area and the USFS’s Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, 12 miles south of South Lake Tahoe in Alpine County.
  • A $450,000 grant to the Redwood Community Action Agency for a cooperative project with Humboldt and Del Norte County Agriculture Departments, California Department of Transportation, California Department of Parks and Recreation and the Yurok Tribe, to eradicate non-native knotweeds and other invasive species at more than 100 locations in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
  • A $1.6 million grant to Pacific Forest Trust to acquire a conservation easement over approximately 3,468 acres of land to protect of a mixed conifer working forest and habitat linkages located near the community of Montague in Siskiyou County.
  • A $2.1 million grant for the acquisition of a conservation easement over approximately 1,447 acres of land by CDFW for a cooperative project with The Trust for Public Land, to protect native oak woodlands habitat near Penn Valley in Nevada County.
  • A $465,000 grant to the Santa Cruz Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, California Conservation Corps, State Coastal Conservancy, State Water Resources Control Board, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and a private landowner, to restore riparian habitat in areas critical to special status amphibian and fish species, located on two coastal watersheds in Santa Cruz County.
  • A $568,000 grant to The Nature Conservancy for a cooperative project with the National Park Service to eliminate Argentine ants from Santa Cruz Island, approximately 20 miles west of Ventura Harbor in Santa Barbara County.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

small river with pebble bottom running through a dry Alpine wilderness
West Fork Carson River in CDFW’s Hope Valley Wildlife Area and the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, in Alpine County. WCB photo
Green, leafy groundcover blankets floor of deciduous forest
Non-native knotweeds and other invasive species found in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Photo by Monica Walker
narrow creek runs through green meadow with a few tall conifer trees
Butte Creek in Siskiyou County
Black, red and white sign warning of Argentine ants, posted on rural wood fence
Invasive Argentine ants warning on Santa Cruz Island, in the Santa Barbara Channel.
Creek runs through green and brown forest brush
Riparian habitat in areas critical to special status amphibian and fish species, in a coastal watershed in Santa Cruz County. WCB photo
Oak trees on a hill surrounded by dry, yellow grasses
Native oak woodlands habitat near Penn Valley in Nevada County. WCB photo

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Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-2420

CDFW to Hold Public Meeting on Proposed Emergency Fishing Closure of Part of Sacramento River

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is holding a public meeting to solicit comments on a proposed closure of 5.5 miles of the Sacramento River above the Highway 44 Bridge in Redding to Keswick Dam. CDFW has determined this closure is necessary to protect endangered winter-run chinook salmon. The anticipated dates of closure are April 27-July 31.

“At the department, it pains us to propose this action for the state,” said Stafford Lehr, CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief. “But we are in unchartered territory here, and we believe this is the right thing to do if we want to help winter run and be able to fish for big rainbows in the long-run.”

The meeting will be held Tuesday, April 7, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Redding Public Library,1100 Parkview Ave. in Redding (96001).

CDFW is proposing a complete fishing closure in this critical holding and spawning area to ensure added protection for the federal and state endangered winter-run chinook, which face high risk of extinction. Given the gravity of the current situation, it is imperative that each and every adult fish be given maximum protection. Current regulations do not allow fishing for chinook salmon, but incidental catch by anglers targeting trout could occur.

An estimated 98 percent of the in-river spawning is occurring in the 5.5 mile stretch under consideration for closure. This reach is the principle spawning area in these extraordinary drought year conditions. This section represents only 10 percent of the waters currently open to fishing upstream of the Red Bluff Diversion Dam.

In 2014, approximately 95 percent of eggs and young winter-run chinook were lost due to elevated river temperatures. Given current drought conditions, it is likely the 2015-year eggs and young salmon will again be subject to extremely trying conditions.

CDFW is tasked by the Governor to work with the California Fish and Game Commission to determine whether fishing restrictions in certain areas are necessary and prudent as drought conditions persist. The proposed closure is also in accordance with the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 25 percent. Visit  saveourwater.com to find out how everyone can do their part, and visit drought.ca.gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.

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Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-3777

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478 or (208) 220-1169

CDFW Scientists Publish Groundbreaking Work on Marijuana’s Effect on the Environment

Northern California marijuana grow
Northern California marijuana grow

Environmental scientists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently published a first-of-its-kind study that clearly shows that water used for growing marijuana has a devastating effect on fish in the state.

The study showed that during drought conditions, water demand for marijuana cultivation exceeded stream flow in three of four study watersheds. The resulting paper, entitled “Impacts of Surface Water Diversions for Marijuana Cultivation on Aquatic Habitat in Four Northwestern California Watersheds,” concludes that diminished stream flow from this water-intensive activity is likely to have lethal to sub-lethal effects on state and federally listed salmon and steelhead trout and will cause further decline of sensitive amphibian species.

The study was published online in the scientific journal PLOS One and can be found here.

By using online tools to count marijuana plants and measure greenhouses, and conducting inspections of marijuana cultivation sites with state wildlife officers and local law enforcement, CDFW scientists quantified plant numbers and water use. Utilizing stream flow data provided by staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), CDFW determined water demand for cultivation could use more than 100 percent of stream flow during the summer dry season in three of four study watersheds. Stream flow monitoring conducted by CDFW in the summer of 2014 appeared to verify these results.

“All the streams we monitored in watersheds with large scale marijuana cultivation went dry,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Bauer, lead author of the research paper. “The only stream we monitored that didn’t go dry contained no observed marijuana cultivation.”

CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division works closely with dozens of other state and federal agencies to eradicate illegal marijuana grows on public, tribal and private lands as well as protect the state’s natural resources.

“This research paper demonstrates the importance of greater regulatory efforts by state agencies to prevent the extinction of imperiled fisheries resources,” said CDFW Assistant Chief Brian Naslund. “CDFW’s new Watershed Enforcement Team (WET) was created with just that in mind.”

The WET program works with agency partners to protect public trust resources from the negative effects of marijuana cultivation, which include both excessive water use and pollution.

CDFW will continue to monitor the effects of water diversion for marijuana cultivation on stream flow through the summer of 2015.

Some medical marijuana cultivation is legal in California on private lands. Growers must submit a CDFW lake and streambed alteration notification and comply with other applicable laws and regulations. Responsible growers help conserve the state’s natural resources and are less likely to be subject to enforcement action.

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Media Contact:
Scott Bauer, CDFW Watershed Enforcement Team, (707) 441-2011
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its November 20 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $26 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 16 funded projects will provide benefits to fish and wildlife – including some endangered species – while others will provide the public with access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, land owners and the local community. The funds for all these projects come from bond initiatives approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:

  • A $5 million grant to Western Rivers Conservancy for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy, Wyss Foundation, the Yurok Tribe and the New Market Tax Credit Program to acquire approximately 6,479 acres of land for the protection of a mixed conifer forest property that includes riparian corridors, salmonid streams, coastal watershed and habitat linkages near the town of Klamath, traversing both Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.
  • A $450,000 grant to Ducks Unlimited, Inc. for a cooperative project with the State Water Quality Control Board, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Caltrans to restore and enhance salt marsh, riparian forest and tidal sloughs on approximately 356 acres of formal tidal habitat on 2.5 miles of the Salt River channel, three miles northwest of Ferndale and one mile from the mouth of the Eel River in Humboldt County.
  • A $9 million grant to the Pacific Forest Trust for a cooperative project with the California Department of Transportation to acquire a forest conservation easement over approximately 12,644 acres of land to protect working forest lands, forest reserve areas, watersheds, fisheries and habitat linkages covering a significant portion of the upper watershed of the McCloud River, near the town of McCloud, traversing both Siskiyou and Shasta Counties. The upper McCloud River is considered by the Regional Water Quality Control Board as one of the most pristine rivers in northern California, providing important fisheries habitat and quality drinking water for much of California.
  • A $2 million grant to Reclamation District 2035 (RD 2035) for a cooperative project with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Water Resources and the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency to construct a new screened water intake for RD 2035, the largest remaining unscreened intake on the Sacramento River north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This proposed project is located five miles east of Woodland on privately owned land on the west bank of the Sacramento River levee, approximately one-half mile north of Interstate 5, in Yolo County.
  • A $1.2 million grant to the National Forest Foundation for a cooperative project with the U.S. Forest Service, Alcoa, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens, Oakwood School and Los Angeles Conservation Corp to restore and enhance riparian and chaparral habitats within the Big Tujunga Canyon in Angeles National Forest, immediately east of the City of Los Angeles in Los Angeles County.
  • A $650,000 grant to the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains for a cooperative project with Caltrans, Los Angeles County, a private landowner, and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority to enhance an existing undercrossing to allow wildlife to cross Highway 101, approximately nine miles east of Thousand Oaks in Los Angeles County.
  • A $3.3 million grant to the Imperial Irrigation District for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Water Resources to construct approximately 640 acres of shallow saline water habitat identified as part of the Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat Project, at the mouth of the New River approximately ten miles west of Calipatria in Imperial County.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

CDFW Asks Trout Anglers to be Mindful During Drought

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is asking trout anglers to be mindful about fishing in the state’s waters and the effects their catch can have on the populations. As the summer progresses, the effects of the current drought on California’s wildlife continue to mount. Aquatic wildlife are especially vulnerable as streamflows decrease and instream water temperatures increase, exposing cold water species such as trout to exceptionally hostile habitat conditions.

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Because of the lower water levels and accompanying higher water temperatures in many California streams, many trout populations are experiencing added stress, which can affect their growth and survival. Many of California’s wild trout anglers have adopted catch-and-release fishing as their preferred fishing practice. Careful handling of a trout after being caught with artificial lures or flies allows for the possibility of trout being caught additional times.

However, catch-and-release fishing during afternoon and early evening in streams and lakes that have elevated water temperatures may increase stress, hinder survival and increase hooking mortality for released trout.

“Please be mindful of the conditions when you are fishing,” said California’s Wild Trout Program Leader, Roger Bloom. “Afternoon and evening water temperatures may be too warm to ensure the trout being released will survive the added stress of hooking, fighting and sustained exposure to the warmer water that builds up during hot days in summer and fall.”

Some of the state’s finest trout streams have special angling regulations that encourage or require catch-and-release fishing. In waters that may experience elevated daytime water temperatures (greater than 70 degrees Fahrenheit) the best opportunity for anglers to fish would be during the early morning hours after the warm water has cooled overnight and before the heat of the day increases water temperatures.

These low water conditions and warmer water temperatures are happening across the state—from Central Valley rivers flowing below the large foothill reservoirs to mountain streams in Southern California and in both east and west slope Sierra Nevada streams.

“Enjoy California’s outstanding trout fishing and help us to keep wild trout thriving by using good judgment,” said CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief, Stafford Lehr. “Fish earlier and stop earlier in the day during these hot summer days ahead.”

Protective measures for catch-and-release fishing during the drought include:

  • Avoiding fishing during periods when water temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit (likely afternoon to late evening)
  • Playing hooked trout quickly and avoiding extensive handling of fish
  • Keeping fish fully submerged in water during the release
  • Utilizing a thermometer and checking water temperatures every 15 minutes when temperatures exceed 65 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Stopping angling when captured fish show signs of labored recovery or mortality
  • Utilizing barbless hooks to help facilitate a quick release

Although other states have used temperature triggers to close recreational fisheries, California does not currently have a legal mechanism in place to accomplish that. Historically, CDFW has requested voluntary actions by anglers to avoid catch-and-release fishing in waters like Eagle Lake and the East Walker River during periods of elevated water temperatures. At present there are local angling groups in Truckee encouraging anglers to participate in a volunteer effort to avoid fishing in the afternoon and evening.

As we move through these extreme conditions, CDFW is asking anglers to help protect our state’s native and wild trout resources. Anglers interested in researching local conditions prior to a trip should contact local tackle shops, check online fishing reports or contact a local CDFW regional office. Anglers should also consider using a hand-held or boat-mounted thermometer to assess water temperatures while fishing.

Media Contact:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Heritage and Wild Trout Program, (916) 464-6355
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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Joint Release of Federal Recovery Plan for Salmon and Steelhead and Conservation Strategy for California’s Ecosystem Restoration Program

noaa cdfw logos

SACRAMENO, Calif. – NOAA Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today jointly released two plans to restore populations of salmon and steelhead in California’s Central Valley: NOAA Fisheries’ Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan and CDFW’s Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) Conservation Strategy.

The two plans are complementary in that CDFW’s conservation strategy presents a broader framework for restoring aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems throughout the Central Valley, while the federal recovery plan focuses on the recovery of endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, and threatened Central Valley steelhead.

A shared goal of both plans is to remove these species from federal and state lists of endangered and threatened species. The recovery plan provides a detailed road map for how to reach that goal. It lays out a science-based strategy for recovery and identifies the actions necessary to restore healthy salmon and steelhead populations to the Central Valley.

“Establishing clear priority watersheds, fish populations and actions is essential to achieve recovery,” said Maria Rea, NOAA Fisheries Assistant Regional Administrator for California’s Central Valley Office. “Implementation of this plan will depend on many parties working collaboratively to pool resources, expertise and programs to recover Chinook salmon and steelhead populations that are part of California’s natural heritage.“

Recovery plans required by the Endangered Species Act are guidance documents, not regulatory requirements, and their implementation depends on the voluntary cooperation of multiple stakeholders at the local, regional, state and national levels.

“The Sacramento Valley joins together a world-renowned mosaic of natural abundance: productive farmlands, meandering rivers that provide habitat and feed salmon and steelhead, wildlife refuges and managed wetlands, and cities and rural communities,” said David Guy, President of the Northern California Water Association. “The recovery plan is a positive step forward–through efficient management of the region’s water resources, water suppliers throughout the Sacramento Valley will continue to work with our conservation partners to help implement the recovery plan and improve ecological conditions in the Sacramento River for multiple species and habitat values.”

The ERP conservation strategy was developed by CDFW collaboratively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries to help guide environmental restoration and establish adaptive management to improve restoration success in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watershed. The approach of conservation strategy is to restore or mimic ecological processes and to improve aquatic and terrestrial habitats to support stable, self-sustaining populations of diverse and valuable species.

“It is critical we make strategic investments in our natural resources,” said Charlton H. Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The funding of these high-priority restoration projects is not only an example of the coordinated effort between state and federal governments, but an example of California’s continued efforts to minimize the effects of drought on fish and wildlife. Central Valley salmon and steelhead deserve nothing less.

California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.’s 2014-15 budget provided CDFW with $38 million to implement enhanced salmon monitoring, restore sensitive habitat, improve water infrastructure for wildlife refuges, expand the fisheries restoration grant program, and remove barriers for fish passage. Some of that money will be used on projects recommended by the federal recovery plan.

Dick Pool of the Golden Gate Salmon Association said, “We thank and congratulate the scientists of NOAA Fisheries for their outstanding work in developing the Central Valley Recovery Plan. GGSA and the salmon industry particularly appreciate the fact that the plan includes both short range and long range actions that can reverse the serious salmon and steelhead population declines. GGSA has identified a number of the same projects as needing priority action. We also commend the agency for its diligent efforts to engage the other fishery agencies, the water agencies and the salmon stakeholders in the process. We look forward to assisting in finding ways to get the critical projects implemented.”

The federal recovery plan and state conservation strategy work together as a blueprint of how at-risk species can be restored to sustainable levels.Restoring healthy, viable salmon and steelhead runs will preserve and enhance the commercial, recreational and cultural opportunities for future generations. As the fish populations grow and recover, so too will the economic benefits and long-term fishing opportunities for everyone.

“The Recovery Plan provides a clear framework to better coordinate and align restoration projects in the Delta, the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries to achieve greater conservation outcomes,” said Jay Ziegler, Director of External Affairs and Policy for The Nature Conservancy. “We are pleased to see the integration of multiple habitat values in the Plan including the importance of expanding lateral river movements to enhance floodplain habitat and recognition of the importance of variable flow regimes to benefit multiple species.”

The development of a recovery plan is an important part in the successful rebuilding of a species because it incorporates information from a multitude of interested parties including scientific researchers, stakeholders and the general public. Since 2007, NOAA Fisheries has held 14 public workshops, produced a draft for public comment, and met with strategic stakeholders to guide the plan’s development and ensure a comprehensive and useful document.

CDFW will be investing considerable resources in improving water conservation on public wildlife refuges in the Central Valley and protecting important salmon stocks that contribute to the state’s fishery. The department has also recently released a restoration grant solicitation which includes salmon and steelhead watersheds in the Central Valley. The solicitation can be found here. Applications are being accepted until August 12, 2014.

More on the NOAA Fisheries Recovery Plan and the CDFW Ecosystem Restoration Program

Contact:
Jim Milbury, NOAA Fisheries Communications, (562) 980-4006
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824

CDFW Completes 2014 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey

A mallard drake takes flight from calm waters
Mallard drake. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its 2014 waterfowl breeding population survey. The resulting data indicate the total number of breeding ducks (all species combined) remains similar to last year. The number of breeding mallards, however, has declined 20 percent compared to 2013.

The total number of breeding ducks is estimated at 448,750 compared to 451,300 last year. This estimate is 23 percent below the long-term average. The estimated breeding population of mallards is 238,700, a decrease from 298,600 in 2013, which is below the long-term average. CDFW attributes the decline to very low precipitation and poor habitat conditions. However, many other species increased in number this year.

“Habitat conditions were poor the last two years in both northeastern California and the Central Valley and the production of young ducks was reduced as a result, so a lower breeding population was expected in 2014,” said CDFW’s Waterfowl Program Biologist Melanie Weaver. “We would expect another low year of duck production from these two important areas in California in 2014. However, habitat conditions in northern breeding areas are reported to be better than average.”

CDFW has conducted this survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1955. The California Waterfowl Association, under contract with CDFW, assists CDFW by surveying a portion of the transects using a helicopter. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, although surveyed areas include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. These areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, the Central Valley from Red Bluff to Bakersfield, and the Suisun Marsh.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Alaska and Canada, and these results should be available in July. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.

The federal regulation frameworks specify the outside dates, maximum season lengths and maximum bag limits. Once CDFW receives the USFWS estimates and the frameworks for waterfowl hunting regulations from the USFWS, CDFW will make a recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission regarding this year’s waterfowl hunting regulations.

Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW and NOAA Fisheries Introduce Voluntary Drought Initiative to Protect Salmon and Steelhead

nooaa cdfw logosd

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries announced a Voluntary Drought Initiative today designed to protect populations of salmon and steelhead from the effects of the current unprecedented drought.

“This is one of many measures we’re attempting to get us through this extreme drought and keep enough water in the state’s rivers and streams to protect our fish resources,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “I am thankful that water users and landowners came to our agencies with ideas about working together in northern California, which allowed us to take this immediate, voluntary action during this important spawning time and improve regulatory certainty for rural communities.”

The initiative provides a framework for water users to enter into individual agreements with the two agencies in an effort to maintain enough water for fish spawning in specific high priority streams, and implement other collaborative actions like fish rescue, relocation, monitoring and habitat restoration. The geographic focus includes some Sacramento River tributaries (Antelope, Deer and Mill creeks) and the Russian, Shasta and Scott rivers. In return, landowners and water users will benefit from greater regulatory certainty under the federal and state endangered species laws, and may receive incidental take authorizations for California Endangered Species Act (CESA)-listed fish in case a participant unintentionally takes listed fish species while withdrawing water.

Archie “Red” Emmerson, owner of Sierra Pacific Industries and the largest private landowner in California, was among the first to participate in the voluntary program. “This is one of the toughest water years in recent memory for people, cattle and fish,” Emmerson said. “We have learned a great deal about salmon spawning and rearing on our properties. This year we are volunteering to keep additional cold water in the creek to help salmon. We hope working with the fish agencies will give the salmon a better chance to survive this difficult drought.”

This is a temporary, voluntary initiative that is only being implemented during federal and state drought declarations or designations, with the goal of supporting agricultural activities while protecting the survival and recovery of federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and CESA-listed salmon and steelhead during this crucial time in their life cycle.

“This initiative is a great example of how to we can respond, in a meaningful way, to the ill effects of a drought” said NOAA Fisheries West Coast Regional Administrator William Stelle, Jr. “Instead of fighting over scarce water supplies and possible regulatory violations, we are building partnerships with landowners and water users who value the salmon resources of California. The voluntary salmon protections coming out of these partnerships are significant.”

NOAA Fisheries and CDFW are aware that the State Water Resources Control Board is currently considering curtailing water rights to respond to current drought conditions. This Voluntary Drought Initiative, under the ESA and CESA, is limited to those authorities and responsibilities of NOAA Fisheries and CDFW. However NOAA Fisheries and CDFW are coordinating closely with the State Water Board. While this initiative is separate from the Board’s authorities and independent actions that it may pursue related to the drought, including emergency curtailments, NOAA Fisheries and CDFW intend to support any local cooperative solution formalized through an executed voluntary agreement before the State Water Board as an alternative to mandatory curtailments.

A description of the fish agencies’ Voluntary Drought Initiative can be found at www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/protected_species/salmon_steelhead/voluntary_drought_initiative.html.

Today, NOAA Fisheries and CDFW are also announcing the execution of the first set of voluntary agreements with key landowners in the Scott and Shasta river watersheds covering land access for fish rescue and providing critical flows to maintain suitable habitat. For copies of those agreements, please continue to check www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/protected_species/salmon_steelhead/voluntary_drought_initiative.html which will be updated as agreements are available.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste – visit saveourwater.com to find out how everyone can do their part, and visit drought.ca.gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.

MOUs:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Searsville Dam MOU (Stanford University)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Shasta River and Parks Creek MOU (Emmerson)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Antelope Creek MOU (Edwards Ranch)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Antelope Creek MOU (Los Molinos Mutual Water Company)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Mill Creek MOU (Los Molinos Mutual Water Company)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Mill Creek MOU (Nobmann Cattle LLC)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Mill Creek MOU (Peyton Pacific Properties)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Mill Creek MOU (The Nature Conservancy)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Scott River MOU (Murphy Family Trust)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Scott River MOU (Michigan Cal)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Scott River MOU (Barnes)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Scott River MOU (Gazzarino)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Scott River MOU (J. Fowle)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Scott River MOU (J. Spencer)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Scott River MOU (Morris)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Scott River MOU (Scott River Ranch)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Scott River MOU (Tobias Ranch)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Scott River MOU (K. Whipple)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Scott River MOU (Stapleton)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Deer Creek MOU (Deer Creek Irrigation District)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Deer Creek MOU (Grant Leininger)
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Porter Creek MOU (Gallo Vineyards)

Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937
Jim Milbury, NOAA Fisheries Communications, (562) 980-4006