Initiative Aims to Speed Coho Salmon Recovery in California Coastal Watersheds from Santa Cruz to Mendocino Counties

Coho salmon are getting a boost from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) strategic plan to prioritize salmon restoration and habitat improvement projects in coastal watersheds from Santa Cruz to Mendocino counties. In most of these watersheds, coho salmon are in severe decline or locally extinct due to human alterations to land and water resources.

The Priority Action Coho Team (PACT) is designed to focus much needed restoration to help maintain, stabilize and increase localized coho salmon populations. The approach of the PACT initiative is to identify and implement specific short-term actions, drawing from existing state and federal coho salmon recovery plans, to bring immediate benefits.

“PACT employs six strategies emphasizing planning actions and collaboration to accelerate coho salmon recovery from Santa Cruz to Mendocino counties,” said Kevin Shaffer, CDFW Branch Chief. “We look forward to working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and our many partners on collaborating to recover this amazing fish.”

Watersheds where PACT restoration projects are being implemented include Scott Creek in Santa Cruz County and the Russian River in Sonoma County, where a range of projects to restore and improve stream and estuarine habitat have been carried out. These initiatives include recovery actions such as stream habitat restoration, water conservation, captive rearing and fish rescue, together with improvements to permitting, regulatory and enforcement processes.

PACT was developed jointly by CDFW and NOAA Fisheries, and is part of several initiatives to accelerate the implementation of ecological restoration and stewardship projects in California. Complimentary efforts include the Cutting the Green Tape initiative recently launched by the California Natural Resources Agency, other state agencies and the North Coast Salmon Project.

More information about the PACT process, as well as the link to the report, can be found on the CDFW website.

###

Media Contacts:
Stephen Swales, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 376-1746
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

Drawings Available for Nearly 100 Spring Wild Turkey Hunts on Public, Private Land

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering nearly 100 special hunts on both public and private land for the upcoming spring wild turkey season, which opens statewide March 28 and extends through May 3.

Young hunters have additional opportunities to bag a tom turkey. Junior hunting license holders 17 and younger can hunt March 21-22, the weekend before the general opener, and two weeks after the general season closes, May 4-17, using shotguns or any other legal method of take. CDFW is offering 27 special turkey hunts reserved just for junior hunting license holders.

California’s archery-only spring turkey season runs from May 4-17. CDFW is once again offering a drawing for seven, archery-only hunts throughout the general and archery seasons near Millerton Lake in Madera County.

CDFW’s SHARE Program, which provides public hunting access to private properties, is offering drawings for spring turkey hunts on two private ranches in Tulare County, the 722-acre River Ridge Ranch and the 975-acre Hart Ranch, including one hunt reserved for junior hunting license holders March 22 at the River Ridge Ranch.

With growing populations of wild turkeys in almost every part of the state, the spring turkey season has become one of the most anticipated events on the upland game bird hunting calendar.

Shooting hours for spring turkeys are from one half-hour before sunrise to 5 p.m. Both a hunting license and an upland game bird stamp validation are required to hunt wild turkeys, although an upland validation is not required of junior hunting license holders.

Hunters are limited to one bearded turkey per day with a season limit of three birds.

Nonlead shot is required when taking wildlife with a firearm anywhere in the state. These regulations apply to both public and private land, including all national forests, Bureau of Land Management and CDFW properties. For more information on hunting with nonlead ammunition, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.

Applications for CDFW’s special spring turkey hunting opportunities must be made through CDFW’s Automated License Data System (ALDS). Hunts are grouped into four separate drawings: Junior Hunts, General Opening Weekend Hunts, Archery-Only Hunts and Balance of Season Hunts. There is a $2.42 application fee and only one application per hunter is allowed for each drawing. Applications allow hunters to select their top three hunt choices in order of preference. Hunters may only be drawn once per application. The application deadline for these hunts is as follows:

  • Junior Hunts: Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020
  • Opening Weekend General Season Hunts: Saturday, March 7, 2020
  • Archery-Only Hunts: Sunday, March 8, 2020
  • Balance of the Season Hunts: Wednesday, March 11, 2020

To apply, visit CDFW’s online sales site, sign into your account, select the “Purchase Licenses” link and select “2019 – Hunting” from the menu on the left side of the page. The spring turkey hunt application items will be available under the “Drawings” section on the right side of the page. After submitting your application, checking out and completing payment, you will be able to download a receipt confirming your entries into the drawings.

For more details and descriptions of these hunts, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/turkey-hunts.

Hunters will also find the “SHARE Hunts Multi Choice Application” available in the same location online after signing into their accounts. The application fee for the Tulare County private ranch turkey hunts is $11.88 per hunt with all proceeds returned to participating landowners to pay for these hunts and additional opportunities.

For more details and descriptions of these SHARE hunts, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share#51518483-general-hunts and select the links for the River Ridge Ranch and the Hart Ranch.

Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Upland/Small Game Program, (916) 373-8816
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

No-Fee Public Hunting Opportunities Abound During Youth Waterfowl Weekend

Many of California’s most popular and productive public waterfowl hunting areas will reopen the Feb. 8-9 weekend to welcome hunters 17 and younger during the Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days – a special, post-season waterfowl hunt reserved just for kids.

“We encourage folks to come out even if they don’t have a reservation or are not able to get into our lottery the night before the hunt,” said Sean Allen, area manager for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Los Banos Wildlife Area in Merced County. “We always have plenty of room in all these public areas up and down the Grasslands. All the national wildlife refuges and all the state areas here in the Grasslands will be open.”

The Los Banos Wildlife Area, in partnership with CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division, will host a youth waterfowl festival Saturday, Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for all the hunters, their families and mentors who turn out, offering food, prizes, waterfowl education and a bird cleaning station, among other activities.

There is no fee to hunt at any Type A wildlife area during the Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days as hunters 17 and younger are exempt from the Type A wildlife area passes required of adult hunters during the regular season. Accompanying adults are likewise exempt from any fees and passes.

Even the Sacramento Valley’s high-demand public waterfowl hunting destinations rarely fill to capacity during the youth waterfowl weekend, offering a high-quality hunting experience without the wait, crowds and competition typical during the regular season. Unlike prior years, the Sunday, Feb. 9 hunt day does not fall on Super Bowl Sunday. Hunter turnout the second day of the weekend is expected to improve as a result.

Those interested in hunting a state or federal waterfowl area during the youth weekend should call ahead about any changes in entry procedures or hunt areas.

At the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area in Butte and Glenn counties, for example, only the Little Dry Creek Unit will be open during the youth waterfowl weekend. Howard Slough and Llano Seco will remain closed. The lottery for Little Dry Creek will take place at 4 a.m. the morning of each hunt day – as opposed to the evening before as occurred during the regular waterfowl season.

At the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in Yolo County, no lottery will take place the evenings before the Saturday and Sunday hunt days. Once reservations have been processed in the morning, hunters will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Sutter National Wildlife Refuge in Sutter County will be open only for a one-day, post-season youth hunt on Sunday, Feb. 9.

California’s Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days are available to those 17 and younger possessing a valid Junior Hunting License and Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation. To participate in these Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days, hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. A Federal Duck Stamp or e-stamp is required of hunters 16 years of age and older. Daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2019-20 waterfowl season. The regulations are available at CDFW’s Waterfowl Hunting webpage.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

Northern Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Will Open Dec. 31

The commercial Dungeness crab season in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties is scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2019.

Delays due to quality only affect the Dungeness crab fishery in this area (Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9). Dungeness crab quality test results from Dec. 17, 2019 met the minimum guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee. Director Charlton H. Bonham had announced a delay to Dec. 31 based on the last round of tests conducted on Dec. 3, 2019, but with these new results no additional delay is warranted. Tri-State managers met this morning to determine that their respective Dungeness crab fisheries would open coastwide within the Tri-State region on Dec. 31, 2019.

No vessel may take or land crab in an area closed for a meat quality delay (i.e., Fish and Game districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 through Dec. 30). In addition, any vessel that takes, possesses onboard or lands crab from ocean waters outside of a delayed area is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in any delayed area for 30 days following the opening of those areas. Permitted vessels that have already participated in the Dec. 15 opener south of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line would not be able to set gear in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties until 12:01 am Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. This applies to any delayed areas in Oregon and Washington as well. For more information, please see CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 2019-2020 Dungeness crab commercial season.

To help minimize the risk of whale and sea turtle entanglement in trap gear, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends implementation of Best Fishing Practices developed by the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group. This includes following guidance on surface-gear set-up, reducing excess line, using neutral buoyancy line and minimizing knots and lead.

For more information on Dungeness crab, please visit:
www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Whale-Safe-Fisheries and www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

 

Invasive Snails Found in Santa Ana River and Bear Creek

Anglers, Residents and Visitors Urged to Help Prevent Further Spread

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed the presence of New Zealand mudsnail (NZMS) within San Bernardino County. The invasive snails were found in both the Santa Ana River and designated wild trout stream of Bear Creek within the greater Santa Ana River Watershed.

Despite their small size, NZMS is a highly problematic aquatic species. At only 4 to 6 millimeters in length on average, dense populations of NZMS can displace and outcompete native species, sometimes by consuming up to half the food resources in a waterway that native insects and fishes would eat. The snails have been linked to reducing populations of aquatic insects, including mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, chironomids and other insect groups upon which trout and other organisms depend.

CDFW urges anglers, boaters, visitors and locals to “clean, drain and dry” all recreational items and fishing gear, which generally means anything that has gotten wet. It is important to leave any stream water, debris and organic plant matter at a recreational site in order to prevent the further spread of the snails. Once NZMS is established in a new habitat, it is impossible to eradicate it without damaging other components of the ecosystem. Boaters, anglers and others who may visit any body of water, within or outside of infested areas, are asked to decontaminate their equipment and follow the “clean, drain and dry” best practices for all equipment and clothing used in a waterway:

  • If you wade, freeze waders, wading boots and other gear overnight (at least six hours, though 24 hours is recommended).
  • After leaving the water, inspect waders, boots, float tubes, paddleboards, kayaks or any gear used in the water. Leave all water and debris at the site that you exited.
  • Additionally, remove any visible snails with a stiff brush, clean off soils and organic material, and follow this by rinsing at the site, preferably with high-pressure hot water.
  • It is critical to completely dry out gear for a minimum of 24 hours.
  • Never transport live fish or other aquatic plants or animals from one body of water to another.
  • An informational flier on the “clean, drain and dry” directive is available for download on CDFW’s website.

The Santa Ana River is the largest river completely in Southern California. Its flow begins in the San Bernardino mountains and concludes at the ocean in Huntington Beach. Bear Creek begins at Big Bear Lake and connects with the Santa Ana River in the mountains. The Santa Ana River watershed has a drainage basin size of 2,650 square miles, is home to 4.5 million people, and is popular among recreationalists and fishermen.

To date, NZMS has been identified in over 17 bodies of waters in the coastal Southern California counties of Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange, including Lower Santa Ana River. NZMS-positive lakes and streams in the Eastern Sierra are in Inyo and Mono counties – Diaz Lake (Inyo), Pleasant Valley Reservoir (Inyo), Tinnemaha Reservoir (Inyo), Lone Pine Creek (Inyo), Lower Bishop Creek (Inyo), Bishop Creek (Inyo), Bishop Creek Canal (Inyo) and Los Angeles Aqueduct (Inyo); Owens River (Mono and Inyo); Upper Owens River (Mono), Hot Creek (Mono), Rush Creek below Grant Lake Dam (Mono) and Crowley Lake (Mono).

CDFW has launched public outreach and education efforts to discuss NZMS in San Bernardino County with local water districts, federal and state agencies, non-profit fisheries partners and fly fishing clubs. Greater outreach efforts will occur in the next few months and into the spring, including posting NZMS signage at Bear Creek angler survey boxes and at other water access points along the Santa Ana River.

For more information on NZMS , please visit the Invasive Species page on CDFW’s website. The U.S. Geological Survey’s website also features an interactive map showing the current distribution of NZMS  in California and throughout the U.S.

Media Contacts:
Jennifer E. Hemmert, CDFW Inland Deserts Region, (951) 634-8793
Tim Daly, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

###