Gray Lodge Auto Tour Loop to Close for Summer Repairs; New Fishing Pier to Be Built

Improvements are coming to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Butte County.

Hosting some 80,000 visitors each year, Gray Lodge is one of the most heavily visited and used wildlife areas in the state, and construction work will restrict some public access over the next several months.

Work is scheduled to begin the week of June 15, 2020, on the auto tour loop on the west side of the wildlife area near Parking Lot 14. The auto tour loop and some nearby hiking trails will be closed during this construction period, which is expected to conclude around the first week in October, reopening in time for bird watching during peak fall and winter migrations.

Crews will regrade the steep slopes on the auto tour roadway to improve safety and add additional turnouts for wildlife viewing and passing. The pond bottoms along the auto tour loop will be reshaped to improve water movement and habitat management. The work is being funded through a $1.4 million grant from the state Wildlife Conservation Board.

Over this same period, crews will also construct a mobility impaired fishing pier on the pond adjacent to Parking Lot 14 thanks to another $310,000 Wildlife Conservation Board grant. The pier will provide fishing access to the public throughout the spring and summer months when the wildlife area is open to fishing. For questions or additional information, please contact Gray Lodge directly at (530) 846-7500.

CDFW reminds Californians to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing.

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Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858

Dave VanBaren, CDFW North Central Region, (530) 846-7500

CDFW Photo: The view from the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area auto tour loop.

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

 

Good News for Duck Hunters: Season Extends to Jan. 31, 2020, in Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin and Southern California Zones

California’s 2019-20 duck season will be extended five additional days this season, closing on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, at the end of legal shooting hours in the Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin and Southern California zones that cover most of the state.

The California Fish and Game Commission last April unanimously approved Jan. 31, 2020, as the duck season end date for the three zones as opposed to the traditional closure the last Sunday in January. The five additional days are intended to provide more hunter opportunity at the end of the season when waterfowl hunting is often at its best.

The extended season maximizes duck hunting opportunity while staying within the federal waterfowl management regulatory framework. It also provides incentive to keep managed wetlands flooded for just a bit longer to the benefit of waterfowl and a host of other wetland species.

State-operated wildlife areas will be open for hunting on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, to accommodate the extended season.

The extension does not include goose hunting in the Balance of State Zone, which means the regular season for dark and white geese will close Sunday, Jan. 26, at the end of legal shooting hours. The waterfowl season in the Southern San Joaquin and Southern California zones will extend to Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, for both ducks and geese. A map of California’s waterfowl zones is available on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website.

A late season goose hunt for white-fronted and white geese will open Saturday, Feb. 8 in the Balance of State Zone and extend for five days, ending Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, except in the Sacramento Valley Special Management Area where the white-fronted goose season will remain closed.

California’s Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days, open to those possessing a valid Junior Hunting License and Harvest Information Program validation, will take place Saturday, Feb. 8 and Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in the Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones.

Several – but not all – state-operated wildlife areas will be open to accommodate youth hunters that weekend. Federal regulations require that hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. A Federal Duck Stamp or E-Stamp is required for 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 on CDFW’s Waterfowl Hunting web page.

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

End of Drought Brings Stocked Trout Back to Crystal Lake

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has once again stocked Crystal Lake in Los Angeles County with rainbow trout, restoring angling opportunities after several years. CDFW stopped stocking this popular fishing area because years of drought led to low lake levels and poor water quality.

“It’s exciting to be able to bring back this opportunity for anglers in the San Gabriel Mountains,” said Inland Fisheries Environmental Scientist Jennifer Pareti. “Prior to the drought, Crystal Lake was stocked by CDFW for more than 70 years. People often share with me their memories of catching fish as kids at Crystal Lake.”

Pareti said recent rainfall, along with efforts by Angeles National Forest to improve the lake’s water quality and habitat, were major factors in the decision to stock the lake again. The fish were supplied by CDFW’s Mojave River Hatchery in San Bernardino County.

“Crystal Lake is a wonderful gem for Los Angeles County. It offers a great opportunity for people to enjoy our local forest and fish this natural lake,” Pareti said.

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Pareti, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program, (562) 342-7173
Tim Daly, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958