Chinook Salmon

CDFW Awards $10.7 Million for Fisheries Habitat Restoration Program Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 27 projects that will receive funding for the restoration, enhancement and protection of anadromous salmonid habitat in California watersheds.

The grants, which total $10.7 million, were awarded through CDFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). Established in 1981, FRGP has included funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund since 2000. The federal fund was established by Congress in 2000 to reverse the declines of Pacific salmon and steelhead throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.

“The ongoing momentum to restore California’s habitat for these historic species hasn’t stopped as we face a global pandemic and devastating wildfires,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Awarding these projects highlights the resilience, passion and vision for salmon recovery by our state’s restoration community, for which we are grateful.”

In response to the 2020 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Grant Solicitation, CDFW received 80 proposals requesting more than $40.6 million in funding. As part of the competitive grant program, proposals underwent a rigorous technical review by CDFW and NOAA scientists.

The 27 approved projects will further the objectives of state and federal fisheries recovery plans, including removing barriers to fish migration, restoring riparian habitat, monitoring of listed populations, and creating a more resilient and sustainably managed water resources system (e.g., water supply, water quality and habitat) that can better withstand drought conditions. These projects further the goals of California’s Water Action Plan and CDFW’s State Wildlife Action Plan, as well as addressing limiting factors specified in state and federal recovery plans.

The list of approved projects is available on the FRGP website.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 216-7848
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

Pismo clams

CDFW Reminds the Public Not to Disturb Pismo Clams on Central Coast Beaches

With the re-opening of several State Parks beaches in San Luis Obispo County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds visitors to avoid disturbing small Pismo clams and rebury any small clams they encounter.

“We have not seen a population boom of this magnitude in decades,” said CDFW Marine Environmental Scientist Derek Stein. “We are hopeful that these young clams could increase the chances of a recreational fishery returning to the central coast.”

Pismo clams were once prolific along central coast beaches, supporting a vibrant recreational fishery. Due to overharvest, illegal removals and other environmental conditions, the fishery has not rebounded to historical levels. Although it is currently legal to harvest clams recreationally, almost no legal-sized clams have been found in recent years.

Pismo clams are frequently encountered by people walking along the beaches or digging in the sand. CDFW encourages the public to leave the clams in the sand to help the population expand. Any disturbed clams should be immediately reburied to increase the chance of survival. Beachgoers may also notice interesting round formations in clam beds. These formations are created by the clams as they expel sand from their siphons and are not caused by other human disturbances. However, the tidal flat environment is sensitive and beachgoers should do their best to avoid disturbing clam beds.

Pismo clams can be harvested with a valid fishing license. Anglers may retain 10 Pismo clams per day if the clams meet the minimum size of 5 inches in greatest diameter north of the San Luis Obispo/Monterey county line, and 4½ inches south of the county line. All undersized clams must be immediately reburied in the area they were found. In Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, the season for Pismo clams starts Sept. 1 and ends after April 30. In all other counties, the season is open year-round. No commercial harvest is permitted.

With the help of the public we can all protect this once abundant and iconic central coast species. If you witness a poaching, wildlife trafficking or pollution incident, immediately dial the toll free CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tips may also be submitted by texting to tip411 (847411). Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to tip411 by texting “CALTIP” followed by a space and the message.

Tips can also be reported through the free CalTIP smartphone app, which operates similarly to tip411 by creating an anonymous two-way conversation with wildlife officers. The CalTIP app can be downloaded via the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store.

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Media Contacts:
Derek Stein, CDFW Marine Region, (805) 242-6726
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Images of a western snowy plover, a California tiger salamander, a Coho salmon, and a San Joaquin kit fox

New Video Series and Website Help Tell the Story of California’s Vulnerable Species

According to a 2019 United Nations report on species extinction, an estimated one million animal and plant species worldwide are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. Still, there is plenty we can do to address the challenges facing listed species. Several state and federal natural resource agencies recently partnered to produce a video series and educational website highlighting successful conservation efforts to preserve some of California’s threatened and endangered species.

Saving Species Together, a joint project between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  Fisheries, illustrates how resource agencies, private landowners, non-profits and citizens have come together to help some of California’s vulnerable species. A half-hour program compiled from the videos will be airing on PBS starting in November as well.

The four listed species to be highlighted by Saving Species Together include:

  • Western snowy plover: Resource managers and volunteers help protect and restore habitat for the western snowy plover at Point Reyes National Seashore and the Mike Thompson Wildlife Area, South Spit Humboldt Bay.
  • Coho salmon: Coho specialists from a timber company, a non-profit and NOAA Fisheries help juvenile Coho salmon in the Eel River Watershed.
  • San Joaquin kit fox: Resource managers, non-profits and a solar company find ways to protect the endangered San Joaquin kit fox in urban environments and on a 26,500-acre preserve in the Central Valley.
  • California tiger salamander: Resource managers, private developers and biological consultants work together to protect the California tiger salamander in native habitat in northern California grasslands.

The SavingSpeciesTogether.org website is hosted by CDFW. It includes the videos, information about the featured species, information on what private landowners and the public can do to help listed species, campaign outreach materials and many other resources.

The videos were produced by Full Frame Productions. The program was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with community service funds paid by the defendant in a securities fraud case captioned as United States of America v. Wildlife Management, LLC (N.D. California).

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Media Contact:
Bridget Kennedy, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 502-7472

Eroded streambank at Ackerson Meadow

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Feb. 26, 2020 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $33.2 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 41 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public 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.

Funding for these projects comes from a combination of sources including the Habitat Conservation Fund and bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources.

Funded projects include:

  • A $275,000 grant to American Rivers, Inc. for a cooperative project with Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest to complete environmental compliance, planning and permitting to restore approximately 230 acres of mountain meadow at three sites: one in Yosemite National Park, one in the Stanislaus National Forest and one managed by both the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) agencies in Tuolumne County.
  • A $300,000 grant to Land Trust of Santa Cruz County for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy to plan, design and permit trails, boardwalks, and fishing and boating access at Watsonville Slough Farm located adjacent to the city of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County.
  • A $1.21 million grant to River Partners for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Kern River Corridor Endowment and Holding Company that will plant milkweed and nectar-rich plants to establish or enhance monarch butterfly habitat on approximately 600 acres of natural lands in the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley and San Diego region.
  • A $1.93 million grant to Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions for a cooperative project with the USFS and Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority to enhance forest health and reduce hazardous fuels through selective thinning, prescribed fire and replanting activities on approximately 1,915 acres of mixed conifer forest in Eldorado National Forest in Amador County.
  • A $2.5 million grant to the Monterey County Resource Management Agency for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy, California State Parks, California Department of Transportation, California Department of Water Resources and Big Sur Land Trust to restore approximately 135 acres on the lower floodplain of the Carmel River located approximately one mile south of the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea in Monterey County.
  • A $2.32 million grant to the Trust for Public Land for a cooperative project with the California Natural Resources Agency’s Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program, National Audubon Society, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Kern River Valley Heritage Foundation to acquire approximately 3,804 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, wildlife corridors, habitat linkages and watersheds, and to provide wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities near Weldon in Kern County.
  • A $1 million grant to the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority (MRCA) and the acceptance of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grant, and the approval to subgrant these federal funds to MRCA to acquire, in fee, approximately 320 acres of land for the protection of a core population of coastal California gnatcatcher, the coastal cactus wren and other sensitive species located near Chino Hills in San Bernardino County.
  • $6.33 million from the USFWS Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grant and approval to subgrant these federal funds to the Endangered Habitats Conservancy (EHC), and a WCB grant to the EHC for a cooperative project with the federal government, acting by and through the U.S. Navy to acquire, in fee, approximately 955 acres of land for the protection of grasslands, oak woodlands, coastal sage scrub and vernal pools that support threatened and endangered species and to support the preservation of wildlife corridors and linkages, located in the community of Ramona in San Diego County.

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

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Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

raccoon eating from a dog bowl

Distemper Cases Rise Among California’s Foxes, Raccoons, Skunks

Residents Reminded to Vaccinate Pets, Remove Wildlife Attractants

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reporting an unusually high number of canine distemper virus (CDV) cases in wildlife populations throughout the state. CDV can infect a wide range of domestic and wild carnivores, including some non-canids. Gray foxes, raccoons and skunks are the most commonly affected species.

Unvaccinated domestic dogs can potentially contract the disease through contact with food or water bowls that are “shared” with infected wild carnivores. Pet owners should be particularly vigilant in their efforts to keep their domestic animals from coming into contact with wildlife. CDV is not transmissible to humans.

“Keeping dogs up to date on vaccinations not only protects pets, it protects wildlife,” said CDFW Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Deana Clifford. “Wild animals can spread distemper to domestic dogs, but unvaccinated domestic dogs can also spread the disease to wild animals.”

Dr. Clifford noted that distemper is the most common disease CDFW finds as the cause of death in California’s carnivores. Large outbreaks of distemper may temporarily reduce some local carnivore populations, thus wildlife biologists and veterinarians monitor reports of sick animals and confirm disease cases when possible to track potential impacts.

Transmission of CDV typically occurs similar to the common cold, via inhalation of infected respiratory droplets or direct contact with saliva, nasal discharge and tears. Occasionally other body fluids (feces and urine) contain the virus. Environmental transmission of canine distemper is rare because the virus does not survive long in the environment. For this reason, CDV presents more of a problem for dense wild carnivore populations as close contact between animals is necessary to spread the disease. While distemper may occur at any time of year, CDV is more common in adult animals during the winter and is thought to be more common in juvenile animals in the spring and summer.

Distemper can cause respiratory, neurologic and gastrointestinal illness. Clinical signs may vary depending on the strain of the virus, the environment, the host species and the age of the infected animal. Signs include (but are not limited to) depression, fever, labored breathing, diarrhea, anorexia, incoordination, moving in small circles, yellow to clear discharge from the nose and eyes, and crusting on the nose, eyes, mouth or footpads. There is no treatment for sick animals except supportive care. Infected animals may or may not survive the illness. Animals with the virus may not show clinical signs but can still spread the virus for up to 90 days.

In addition to removing food and other attractants, CDFW urges the public to keep a safe distance from sick or injured wild animals, as animals that are ill or feel threatened may act aggressively. Please report the sick animal’s behavior and location to the closest CDFW office and/or to a local animal control agency, as soon as possible.

Any wildlife encounter that is an emergency should be reported to 9-1-1. For non-urgent questions concerning wildlife, please contact your local CDFW Regional Office or your local animal control service. Additional information about living with wildlife can be found on CDFW’s website.  If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal, please wash the wound vigorously with soap and water and consult a physician and/or contact your County Public Health Department. Neurologic signs of CDV may not be distinguishable from rabies virus infection, which is a public health risk.

Do not handle carcasses of wild animals with bare hands. CDFW’s has protocol for safe handling and disposal of carcasses on its website.

For questions regarding distemper in wildlife or concerns about sick animals, contact CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory at (916) 358-2790.

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Media Contact: 
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988