Tag Archives: Sierra Nevada

Tax Donations Help to Prevent Wildlife Extinction

Extinction is forever, but you and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) can join forces to prevent it. Help save California’s native plant and animal species when you file your state income tax return by making a voluntary contribution to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program (RESPP) and/or the California Sea Otter Fund.

Just enter any dollar amount you wish on line 403 for rare and endangered species and on line 410 for southern sea otters. Money donated by California’s taxpayers supports programs that benefit these at-risk species.

“Taxpayers’ donations make more of a positive difference than one might think,” CDFW Wildlife Branch Chief T.O. Smith said. “Voluntary contributions also help CDFW acquire federal matching funds, increasing the actions we can take for threatened and endangered species and their habitat.”

California has 219 species of plants and 83 species of animals listed as rare, threatened or endangered. Money raised through the tax donation program helps pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts for these plants and animals, and critical efforts to restore and conserve their habitat. Endangered species face many different threats, such as the unprecedented tree die-off occurring in the Sierra Nevada mountains due to a combination of past forest management practices, warming climate, severe drought and bark beetles capitalizing on the dying trees.

Past donations to the RESPP have enabled biologists to analyze data on the Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) – North America’s most highly colonial land bird – to assess factors that may be affecting the species’ ability to survive and reproduce. Ninety-nine percent of the world’s Tricolored blackbird population lives within the State of California and statewide surveys have revealed that the species has declined by more than 60 percent in the past decade.

CDFW has been working with multiple stakeholders to study the current distribution and status of the Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas) – a highly aquatic threatened species – and to improve habitat suitability and stability in areas hardest hit by the drought.

Staff have participated in the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) Science Advisory Committee’s efforts to recover the threatened species, beginning with tackling the issue of how to reduce their hybridization with non-native tiger salamanders.

CDFW is in the final stages of completing a conservation strategy for the state-listed Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis), which will guide conservation and research projects to help ensure recovery of the species.

With the assistance of biologists from other agencies, CDFW biologists have been monitoring endangered Desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius) populations and water quality in natural and artificial habitats. Pupfish have been rescued from natural habitats that have dried during summer months and have been relocated to other areas. Recovery actions have included identification of habitat in need of restoration.

RESPP funds supported the review of Livermore tarplant (Deinandra bacigalupii), which informed the Fish and Game Commission’s decision to protect the species under the California Endangered Species Act. Funds were also used to monitor several endangered plant species, including the critically endangered Slender-petaled mustard (Thelypodium stenopetalum), found only near Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains.

The past five drought years have put endangered species at even greater risk as rivers and creeks have been impacted and seasonal and some permanent aquatic habitats dried up. CDFW has documented extremely low numbers and/or reproductive rates for winter-run Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus), Mohave ground squirrel, Giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens), Giant garter snake, Santa Cruz long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum; drought rescue story on our website), California tiger salamander and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae), among others.

There is no upper limit to voluntary contributions; any dollar amount is welcome. These plants and animals are part of our heritage and need your support to survive and thrive.

Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund are split between CDFW and the State Coastal Conservancy. CDFW’s half supports scientific research on the causes of mortality in sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis). In addition to working on a large analysis of 15 years of mortality data, CDFW scientists are conducting research on little-known viruses, parasites and biotoxins that may be harming sea otters. Through a better understanding of the causes of mortality, it may be possible to work more effectively to recover the sea otter population here. The Southern sea otter is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and “fully protected” by the State of California.

“This voluntary contribution program provides important funding for understanding sea otter health and implementing programs to help recover the Southern sea otter population,” said CDFW Sea Otter Program Manager Laird Henkel. “Our team and collaborators are currently in the final stages of summarizing 15 years of sea otter post-mortem investigations, largely supported by this tax check-off program. We’re excited that we’ll have this information to share later this year.”

CDFW is also collaborating with Friends of the Sea Otter and others on the ‘Sea Otter Savvy’ program. Also supported primarily by tax check-off contributions, this program is designed to reduce human disturbance to sea otters.

In 2016, $5,000 of the fund was offered as part of a larger reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who shot four sea otters near Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, CDFW has not yet received such information.

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 and Sea Otter programs is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/tax-donation and at www.facebook.com/seaotterfundcdfw.

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 RESPP 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.

green and brown plant with small yellow flowers in a gold field of dead grass and weeds
Livermore tarplant, of the sunflower family, only exists in a few locations in Alameda County. Jeb Bjerke/CDFW photo
A brown and yellow-striped giant garter snake in grass and dirt
Giant garter snake. Courtesy of Eric Hansen
A California tiger salamander, brown with yellow spots, standing in mud
California tiger salamander. Courtesy of Jack Goldfarb Photography
Two sea otters with head and shoulders visible ablve water
California sea otters

Media Contacts:
Jeb Bjerke, Habitat Conservation Planning Branch (plants), (916) 651-6594
Russ Bellmer, Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8850
Esther Burkett, Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 531-1594
Laird Henkel, Sea Otter Program, (831) 469-1726
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Looking for Family Activities This Summer?

Get Outdoors and Do Something Wild!

Media Contact:
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8933

11-year-old girl on riverbank holding the striped bass she caught
Kate Macintyre caught a striped bass on the Sacramento River. Kirsten Macintyre photo

School is out and parents everywhere are thinking about how to keep their kids from becoming couch potatoes this summer.  Families will also be seeking recreational activities and trying to plan a quality outing on a budget.  Those willing to venture outdoors in the Golden State will find lots of things to do – kid-friendly and pocketbook-friendly, too.  If you are looking for creative summer boredom-busters, look no further than the Youth and Families in the Outdoors Program (YO!) hosted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

“It’s amazing how many outdoor opportunities are available in every corner of the state,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “From fishing lessons to guided nature tours, each of these events serves to encourage a deeper understanding of our wildlife and natural resources and cultivates a desire to learn about them.”

YO! maintains a calendar of kid- and family-friendly summer events around the state, including those sponsored by organizations and nonprofits unaffiliated with CDFW. To find the perfect summer opportunity, please check out the calendar at www.dfg.ca.gov/yo.

Just a few of the opportunities currently listed include:

  • Humboldt County: Discovery Museum (Eureka), PAL Camp “Water Week.” Summer camp for ages 5 to 12, July 9-13. Explore all of special water features in the Humboldt area – oceans, rivers, creeks, rain and more – and learn how water is essential to life. Lots of fun by way of water games and activities. For more information, please visit www.discovery-museum.org.
  • Tehama County:  Beginning Hunting Camps are for girls and boys ages 10 to 14 who wish to obtain their hunter education certificates. Various dates in June and July. Youth will also spend time outdoors learning to become ethical, safe and skilled anglers, shooters, archers and wildlife conservationists.  For more information, please visit www.mykosc.org.
  • Butte County:  Family Preschool Workshops for parents and children ages 3 to 5. Various dates in June and July. Offered by the Chico Creek Nature Center to give young children their first introduction to nature through games, crafts, group discussion and up-close observation. Both children and adults will enjoy learning about nature.  For more information, please visit www.bidwellpark.org.
  • Alameda County:  Camp of the Wild for girls and boys ages 9 to 12, July 8-12. Kids will spend time outdoors learning survival skills, such as how to build an outdoor shelter. One of many events offered by East Bay Regional Parks. For more information, please visit www.ebparks.org.
  • Fresno County:  Fresno Chaffee Zoo, “Young Naturalist: Sierra Field Biology” field trip for kids ages 11 to 17. July 30-August 3 (Friday Field Trip.) Discover the wonder of how animals, plants and humans are intertwined in the conservation of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains.  For more information, please visit www.fresnochaffeezoo.org.
  • Orange County:  Free Kid’s Fishing Clinic. Every Sunday from noon to 12:30 p.m. Come to the dockside at Dana Wharf and ask the experts all about fishing the deep blue sea. No reservations needed and fishing gear is provided. Follow up the clinic with a fishing trip from 12:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. One free child admission with a paid adult. For more information, please visit  www.danawharf.com.

The calendar will be updated regularly so please check back throughout the summer months.

YO! is a collaborative effort between CDFW and a number of outdoors-oriented foundations and organizations around the state. Its purpose is to facilitate the conservation, enhancement and restoration of our fish and wildlife and habitats through the education and participation of our youth in California’s outdoor heritage.

If you know of a family or youth-friendly outdoor event that is not listed on the calendar, please contact YO! at (916) 322-8933.