Tag Archives: conservation

Nebraska Artist Wins 2019 California Duck Stamp Art Contest

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A painting of northern pintails by Frank Dolphens, Jr. of Omaha, Neb. has been chosen as the winner of the 2019 California Duck Stamp Art Contest. The image will be the official design for the 2019-2020 stamp.

The contest judges praised the anatomical accuracy of Dolphens’s painting, as well as the accuracy of the habitat. They complimented the excellent body shape and the contrast between the subjects and the background, which seems to make the pintails “pop” off the canvas. The judges also appreciated the three-bird composition and the fact that both sexes were represented.

“I have always admired the northern pintail,” said Dolphens. “I am inspired by their mysticism and their colors and was anxious to enter this year’s contest to portray these characteristics in the painting. I wanted to present the pintails in a grouping to show the strength of their colors in a background setting that enhanced their features.”

Artists from around the country submitted entries for the contest, sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). John Nelson Harris of Groveland, Fla., placed second, Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Ind., placed third and Roberta Baer of Redding received honorable mention.

The top four paintings will be displayed at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s 49th Annual Classic Wildlife Art Festival, which is scheduled July 20-21 in Sacramento.

Since 1971, the California Duck Stamp Program’s annual contest has attracted top wildlife artists from around the country. The contest is traditionally open to artists from all 50 states in order to ensure a wide pool of submissions. All proceeds generated from stamp sales go directly to waterfowl conservation projects throughout California.

In the past, hunters were required to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting licenses. Today, hunters are no longer required to carry the stamps because California’s modern licensing system prints proof of additional fees paid directly onto the license. However, CDFW still produces the stamps, which can be requested on CDFW’s website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps.

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Media Contacts:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717

CDFW Celebrates Earth Day

Monday, April 22 is the 49th annual Earth Day and the 2019 theme is “Protect Our Species.” The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) works to protect our state’s native species every day of every year.

CDFW performs and oversees wildlife habitat conservation and restoration to maintain healthy ecosystems throughout the state. No matter where a native plant, fish or animal lives—in a marine, brackish or fresh water environment, on land, in trees or underground—all living things need clean, healthy habitats.

Some people see a wetland, grassland, desert or any undeveloped landscape and think, “There’s nothing there.” But there are numerous plant, animal and fish species living there, hidden underwater, underground, under rocks and in rock crevices. Those “unused” spaces are home to many species that are part of the elaborate web of life on which all living things depend.

In the past, people thought natural resources—like fresh, potable water—were unlimited. We know better now, yet still produce millions of tons of garbage each year and often dispose of it in ways that harm wildlife. With more than seven billion people on the planet, such a careless lifestyle causes irreparable damage to the very ecosystems all forms of life need to live.

It’s easy to reduce, reuse and recycle the products we use each day. And when we do, our behavior benefits wildlife as much as it does ourselves.

Californians have been celebrating Earth Day with festivals, learning opportunities, and activities such as trail and habitat clean-up and restoration since 1970. It’s a day to think about how each of us affects our world’s limited natural resources, and what we can do as individuals or as groups to tread lightly on the Earth, make up for past damage and restore what we can.

For links to environmentally healthy living suggestions, Earth Day festivals and other activities throughout California, please visit CalRecycle’s Earth Day webpage.

CDFW staff will participate in Earth Day activities around the state, and would be pleased to discuss ways we can conserve wildlife with you at any of these events.

Saturday, April 20
Newport Beach: Upper Newport Bay Earth Day event, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center. CDFW ecological reserve Science Discovery booth.

Fresno: Earth Day festival in Radio Park. Booth with animal mounts and information about CDFW and volunteering. Live music, green vendors, EV test drives, food, kids’ activities.

April 22 and 23
Rancho Cordova: The Nimbus Hatchery preschool story time program, Tot Time, will feature an Earth Day theme.

Sunday, April 28
Sacramento: Earth Day Festival at Southside Park. CDFW will have hands-on children’s activities and the Salmon Wheel of Fortune.

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Media Contact:
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Stream Flow Enhancement Projects

The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) has approved approximately $13 million in grants to help enhance flows in streams throughout California. A total of 11 stream flow enhancement projects were approved at an April 4 meeting of the Stream Flow Enhancement Program Board. The approved projects will provide or lead to a direct and measurable enhancement of the amount, timing and/or quality of water in streams for anadromous fish; special status, threatened, endangered or at-risk species; or to provide resilience to climate change.

Funding for these projects comes from the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1). The Act authorized the Legislature to appropriate funds to address the objectives identified in the California Water Action Plan, including more reliable water supplies, the restoration of important species and habitat, and a more resilient and sustainably managed water infrastructure.

Funded projects include:

      • A $499,955 grant to the University of California, Davis for a cooperative project with the University of California, Berkeley that will apply the newly developing California Environmental Flows Framework to inform decisions regarding instream flow enhancements in the Little Shasta River in Siskiyou County and San Juan Creek in Orange County, by defining target hydrologic regimes that meet ecological and geomorphic objectives.
      • A $1.5 million grant to the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in the Oroville Wildlife Area in Butte County. The project will reconnect the Feather River to approximately 400 acres of its historic floodplain, increasing the frequency and duration of floodplain inundation, and enhancing habitat for anadromous salmonids.
      • A $1.98 million grant to the Truckee River Watershed Council for a cooperative project with the CDFW, U.S. Forest Service, Tahoe National Forest and Bella Vista Foundation to enhance hydrologic and ecological function and improve base flows during the low flow period within Lower Perazzo Meadow in Sierra County.
      • A $621,754 grant to the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with DWR and State Coastal Conservancy to construct an off-channel storage pond on Klingman-Moty Farm. Combined with irrigation efficiency upgrades and a commitment from the landowner to forbear diversions during the low flow period, the project will improve instream flow conditions in San Gregorio Creek in San Mateo County.
      • A $1.78 million grant to the Ventura Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with Ojai Valley Inn, the city of Ojai, the Thacher School, and a diverse array of other partners. They will develop an Integrated Water Management Framework for Instream Flow Enhancement and Water Security and complete planning, permitting and outreach to advance 25 stream flow enhancement projects to an implementation ready stage.

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

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

There’s Still Time to Help Wildlife With Your State Income Tax Return

With tax returns due April 18, time is running out, but you can still help California’s rare, threatened and endangered species when you file your state return. In the Voluntary Contributions section you can donate any dollar amount to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 and the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403. These special funds help support California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) endangered species research and conservation programs.

California’s sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) were driven nearly to extinction, then given legal protection that has allowed the population to grow. In recent years, that growth stagnated, and is just starting to grow again, to a few more than 3,000 sea otters in California waters. This small population is vulnerable to oil spills, chemicals and other pollutants in road and agricultural run-off, predation by white sharks and other threats.

Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund (line 410) are split between CDFW and the State Coastal Conservancy. Those contributions have funded studies that link many sea otter deaths to polluted runoff, including fecal parasites, bacterial toxins and chemicals related to coastal land use.

The Southern sea otter is fully protected by the State of California, and take is not allowed except for scientific research and recovery purposes. Additionally, the sea otter is federally listed, and it is illegal to harass, pursue, hunt, catch, capture or kill, or attempt any of those actions on such listed species. Yet, just last year, four were shot and many others were intentionally harassed by people. The California Sea Otter Fund also supports a growing program to reduce human disturbance to sea otters.

Another 83 species of animals and 219 plants are listed by the state as rare, threatened or endangered. Donations to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program (line 403) pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts for these plants and animals, and critical efforts to restore and conserve their habitat.

Past donations to this program have enabled biologists to study the Livermore tarplant (Deinandra bacigalupii) and the critically endangered Slender-petaled mustard (Thelypodium stenopetalum), and implement conservation efforts for the Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis), California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas),Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) and Desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius).

“There is no upper limit to voluntary contributions; any dollar amount is welcome. But, with so many species in need of conservation efforts and given the size of the Golden State, we’d like to encourage higher donations,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Esther Burkett. “Can Californians beat last year’s average of $15 per household? These plants and animals are part of our heritage and need your support to survive and thrive.”

If someone else prepares your state tax return, please let him or her know you want to donate to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 or the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403. If you use Turbo Tax, when you’re near the end of your tax return it should ask if you want to make a voluntary contribution to a special fund. Click “Yes” and go to lines 403 and 410.

CDFW biologists have achieved important recovery milestones and protected vulnerable species, thanks to California taxpayers. More information about how CDFW uses funds in the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program and Sea Otter program is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/tax-donation and at www.facebook.com/seaotterfundcdfw.

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Media Contact:
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Sportsmen’s Dollars Support Research on Desert Bighorn Sheep

Thanks to California’s big game hunters, wildlife biologists studying Desert Bighorn Sheep will have new technology and tools to help them study deadly diseases that affect these icons of the desert.

In 2013, Desert Bighorn sheep populations in the Mojave Desert near Old Dad Peak suffered a die-off. In an effort to learn more about the spread of disease and survival, scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Mojave National Preserve and Oregon State University launched an ongoing joint study of adult sheep. They have captured and radio-collared about 150 adults to date, but important data about lamb mortality is still missing.

Now, in the third year of the study, a grant will enable researchers to collect the data that will unlock the mystery. Beginning this winter, scientists will capture and radio collar bighorn ewes. As they are captured, ultrasounds will be conducted, and ewes that are found to be pregnant will be implanted with special vaginal implant transmitters, the purchase of which will be funded by the $190,000 grant. When the lamb is subsequently born, the transmitter will be pushed out and send an alert signal. Project researchers can then go to the birth site and put a miniature radio transmitter on the lamb.

If the lamb subsequently dies, a mortality signal will be transmitted and the body will be recovered by researchers quickly enough to pinpoint the cause of death. This real-time information gathering technique will hopefully provide answers to the mystery behind unexplained bighorn mortality — why the 2013 disease outbreak was so widespread, what factors contributed to the spread of the disease and what management efforts can be instituted to help prevent future outbreaks.

Spearheaded by the nonprofit California Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation and Oregon State University, the study will greatly benefit from the addition of the new technology, made possible by the purchase of big game tags by California hunters.  It is one of many project funded by the Big Game Grants Program, which allots about $800,000 each year to support studies such as this one.

Joint projects are particularly critical to fund, because they help target wildlife management issues which are often beyond the normal scope of CDFW manpower, expertise or financing.

“Funds in the Big Game Grants Program support a wide range of wildlife studies and projects,” said Craig Stowers, CDFW Big Game Program Manager. “We have a responsibility to see that the funding generated by hunters goes toward preserving wildlife populations. This sheep study is a great example of how hunters play a role in solving complicated and challenging research needs.”

This new phase of study is hoped to produce critical information unavailable until now.

“The desert environment is harsh and expansive. Until now, it’s been almost impossible to find and collect dead lambs in a timely manner, which is necessary in order to determine the cause of mortality,” said Daniella Dekelaita, a doctoral student and researcher at Oregon State University. “We know there have been significant lamb losses in some herds and this will give us accurate and timely information on what was the cause.”

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Media Contacts:
Regina Abella, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3728

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169