Tag Archives: Elkhorn Slough

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Sept. 3 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $31 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 27 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, landowners 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 $375,000 grant to the Solano Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with landowners, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Center for Land-based Learning, to enhance approximately 21 acres of riparian habitat on two privately owned properties – one located approximately five miles north of Rio Vista and the second approximately four miles southeast of Winters, in Solano County.
  • A $510,000 grant to Anza-Borrego Foundation for a cooperative project with the San Diego Association of Governments, the Nature Conservancy, and the Resources Legacy Fund to acquire in fee approximately 1,129 acres of land for the protection of habitat that supports endangered species, habitat linkages and corridors between existing protected lands, and potential wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Cuyamaca in San Diego County.
  • A $3.4 million grant to the Nature Conservancy for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy to acquire a conservation easement on approximately 2,554 acres of native forest habitats, including redwood, Douglas fir and Grand fir forest in the upland zones, and mature red alder forest within the riparian zone along the Ten Mile River, near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.
  • A $1.4 million grant to the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District to acquire approximately 443 acres of land for the protection and preservation of deer, mountain lion and oak woodland habitat, and existing regional wildlife linkages west of Lake Berryessa in Napa County.
  • Authorized a tax credit on behalf of United Technologies Corporation in the amount of $8,607,500, consistent with the Natural Heritage Preservation Tax Credit Act Program and awarded $2.7 million to reimburse the state general fund. This is part of a larger cooperative project with Santa Clara Open Space Authority, USFWS, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California State Parks, California Coastal Conservancy, the Resources Legacy Fund and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to acquire approximately 1,831 acres of land. Purchasing this land will protect threatened and endangered species, provide movement corridors and connectivity, and provide wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Morgan Hill in Santa Clara County.
  • A $980,000 grant to the Elkhorn Slough Foundation for a cooperative project with CDFW, the California State Coastal Conservancy, DWR, USFWS and Santa Cruz County Public Works, to restore approximately 46 acres of tidal marsh and five acres of perennial grasses on CDFW’s Elkhorn Slough National Marine Estuarine Research Reserve, two miles east of Moss Landing in Monterey County.
  • A $7.5 million acquisition in fee of approximately 282 acres of land by CDFW and to accept settlement funds from the U.S. Department of the Interior Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Fund for the protection of threatened and endangered species, and riparian and floodplain habitat along the Santa Clara River, and to provide wildlife-oriented public use opportunities associated with CDFW’s Fillmore Fish Hatchery in Ventura 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 Education and Outreach, (916) 322-2420

Flat, green and gold pasture in Solano County, California
Cronin Ranch pasture, north of Rio Vista. Solano Resource Conservation District photo
weedy stream bank and channel
Weedy stream bank and channel where habitat restoration will occur on Cronin Ranch. Solano Resource Conservation District photo
dirt-covered ridge looks like moonscape under blue sky
Coyote Ridge near Morgan Hill. Santa Clara Open Space Authority photo
pawprint of California black bear in soil
Fresh bear track west of Lake Berryessa in Napa County. Photo used with permission.
a small spring in oak woodland
Partially developed spring in deer, mountain lion, and oak woodland habitat west of Lake Berryessa. Photo used with permission.
view of conifer forest and hills from above the fog
Native forest habitats near Ten Mile River in Mendocino County. Nature Conservancy photo
a fallen log lays across a small stream runs through red alder forest
Mature red alder forest in the riparian zone along the Ten Mile River in Mendocino County. Nature Conservancy photo

Elkhorn Slough OtterCam Goes High Definition

The Elkhorn Slough OtterCam has been upgraded from standard to high-definition, and there is now a second HD video camera focused on sea otters, thanks to the generous support of the Acacia Foundation and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Now anyone can watch California’s adorable sea otters in HD by going to www.elkhornslough.org/ottercam.

Located in areas of the Elkhorn Slough Reserve’s salt marshes where sea otters often congregate, the two new cameras offer great image clarity and fine detail for viewing this iconic Monterey Bay marine mammal and a teeming cast of other Elkhorn Slough wildlife. Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve is managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The Elkhorn Slough OtterCam HD video streams will be featured as part of the PBS/BBC Big Blue Live television and online event, Aug. 31 through Sept. 2 (at www.pbs.org/big-blue-live/live-cams/elkhorn-slough-otter-cam). Anchored from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the three-day, live televised event will highlight the amazing marine life that converges off California’s central coast. The Big Blue Live website links to live cameras, including the Elkhorn Slough OtterCam.

Elkhorn Slough is home to the largest concentration of endangered southern sea otters (enhydra lutris nereis) on the California coast, and the first webcam dedicated to streaming live video of wild southern sea otters in their natural habitat. The Elkhorn Slough OtterCam has been streaming live video online from the tidal salt marshes of the Elkhorn Slough Reserve since 2012. The upgrade to high-definition enhances the OtterCam for both researchers and visitors.

For almost two years, researchers have used the Elkhorn Slough OtterCam to observe sea otter behavior such as foraging, grooming and raising pups. Stationed on the edge of the slough, the camera looks across pickleweed marsh and tidal channels of the slough. These channels are frequented largely by female otters and appear to be used as a nursery, as sea otters with pups are regularly seen in the meandering channels. During the past three years, the camera has provided video and still photographs documenting the growth of otter pups, interactions with harbor seals and other wildlife, and the movement of otters throughout the slough.

“The OtterCam has opened a unique window on the lives of sea otters. There are times we are seeing 25 or more otters in the protected channels of the slough’s marsh,” Elkhorn Slough Foundation (ESF) Executive Director Mark Silberstein said. “This suggests there may be more otters residing in the slough than previously thought. We’ve witnessed some unique behaviors, such as hauling out of the water, resting and grooming in the pickleweed marshes.”

Research is underway to better understand how sea otters are using the estuary, with the hope of helping southern sea otters recover in other parts of their historic range. In turn, recent evidence suggests that sea otters may yield important ecological benefits to the estuaries they inhabit. A study published by reserve researcher Brent Hughes in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that sea otters enhance the health of subtidal seagrass beds, as they do in kelp forests.

“We are pleased to present these remarkable images from the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, and shine a light on sea otter use of the estuary,” Reserve Manager Dave Feliz said. “The behavior of these animals in a salt marsh is little understood, yet the story is unfolding before the eyes of the world on ElkhornSlough.org. CDFW is happy to be a part of this new chapter in sea otter life history.”

Elkhorn Slough, in the central Monterey Bay area, encompasses a wide variety of habitats – oak woodlands, maritime chaparral, coastal prairie and the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California south of San Francisco Bay – that support an incredible abundance and diversity of life. Elkhorn Slough hosts 550 species of marine invertebrates and 100 species of fish, as well as resident sea lions, harbor seals and the highest concentration of southern sea otters on the West Coast. On the Pacific flyway, Elkhorn Slough bird numbers can soar during migration seasons, nearly doubling the resident bird counts. The slough is designated a Globally Important Bird area, with more than 340 species identified in and around the slough.

ESF is a community-supported non-profit land trust whose mission is to conserve and restore the Elkhorn Slough and its watershed. ESF protects 4,000 acres of rare habitat including oak woodlands, maritime chaparral and wetlands. Since 1982, ESF has been the non-profit partner of the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (ESNERR).

ESNERR is managed by CDFW with administrative assistance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ESNERR is one of 28 reserves established nationwide to support long-term research, water-quality monitoring, environmental education and coastal stewardship.

For information about ESF and ESNERR, and to support the conservation of Elkhorn Slough, please visit ElkhornSlough.org and CDFW Elkhorn Slough.

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Media Contacts:
Dave Feliz, CDFW Elkhorn Slough Reserve, (831) 728-2822
Scott Nichols, Elkhorn Slough Foundation, (831) 728-5939
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Elkhorn Slough Reserve Offers Spanish Speaking Nature Tours in August

Media Contact: Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Who: California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)

When: 11 a.m. every Saturday in August (10, 17, 24 and 31)

Where: Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Visitor Center – 1700 Elkhorn Road, Royal Oaks 95076

What: Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, the second largest estuary in California, is offering Spanish speaking tours for the month of August.

Explore five miles of trails and the opportunity to view a wide variety of birds and marine life. No reservation is needed. There is a $4 entrance fee for anyone over the age of 16.

The tours provided are a result of the partnership with “Environment for the Americas” which is funded through the President Barack Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors“ initiative that promotes conservation and outdoor recreation.

The Reserve is managed by CDFW in cooperation with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and the Elkhorn Slough Foundation, and is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, please contact the Elkhorn Slough Reserve Visitor Center or go to elkhornslough.org.