The California Fish and Game Commission approved waterfowl regulations in April for the upcoming season, including lowering the pintail daily bag limit to one – a limit set at the federal level due to lower pintail breeding population counts last year. The only other significant change was raising the limit on white geese in the Colorado River Zone to 20 per day.
CWA testified at the commission’s hearing, generally supporting the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s proposal, which provides for liberal seasons of up to 107 days and daily bag limits of 7 ducks total and up to 30 geese total in some zones.
Much of CWA’s testimony focused on the need in the Northeastern Zone to provide additional public access and opportunity for the late season goose hunts. CWA’s positions on the regulations were recommended by its volunteer Regulations and Traditions Committee and approved by its board earlier in April.
The Commission agreed to delay a proposal to shift up to 28 days from the regular Northeastern white-fronted goose season, when public-land hunting is allowed, to the late season, when hunting is mostly limited to private lands in order to minimize impacts on public hunting.
This delay will give DFW the opportunity to create a Special Management Area for the Klamath Basin – where the 28 days would remain in the regular season - and perform outreach to the landowners regarding California’s voluntary hunter access program, the SHARE Program.
In a separate letter to the Commission regarding the late season goose hunts, CWA noted “that the goose depredation issues in the NE Zone are significant, and that CWA strongly supports providing landowners with appropriate tools to address them. We also recognize the critical role that farmers and other landowners play in providing waterfowl habitat and food resources throughout California, and urge that the Commission and Department’s policies and regulations continue to support these important efforts.”
CWA also supported an early opener – Oct. 7 – for the Northeastern Zone regular season, recognizing that, with the notable exception of the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake national wildlife refuges, 2017 water conditions will generally allow for early flood fall flood-up of wetlands.
The season will open Oct. 20 in the Colorado River Zone, where regulations have to match the zone on the Arizona side of the river, and Oct. 21 in the Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones. Details of season dates and bag limits will be published in the Fall issue of this magazine.
More than 50 avid waterfowlers and biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Department of Fish and Wildlife met today at California Waterfowl headquarters in Roseville (and via telephone) to discuss what's going on with pintail regulations and learn about CWA's banding and egg salvage efforts. The occasion was a meeting of CWA's Regulations & Traditions Committee to review proposed 2017-18 waterfowl regs.
As you might imagine, there was a LOT of discussion about the reduction of the pintail daily bag limit from 2 to 1 for 2017-18. The short version is it can't be changed for 2017-18 - it's already set in stone as part of the federal frameworks (you can find more detail in the Spring issue of your California Waterfowl magazine). But it was heartening nonetheless to hear hunters speaking passionately about doing whatever it takes to improve breeding ground habitat to help pintail populations rebound.
There were, however, some matters that have not been decided yet at the state level, and the R&T Committee took two positions:
1. Recommend to delay a DFW proposal to move some white-fronted goose hunting dates in the Northeastern Zone from December to the spring season, when no hunting is allowed on the public refuges. Currently, whitefronts can be hunted only five days in the spring season.
The change was requested by farmers seeking relief from geese doing intensive and costly crop damage during the spring. But the committee voted to postpone that action to the 2018-19 season, when other beneficial changes are likely to take place, including the creation of a goose special management area for the Klamath Basin that would allow 105 consecutive days of goose hunting on public land, and possibly increased availability of public hunting opportunities during the late goose season via the SHARE Program.
2. Recommend supporting DFW's proposed season start date in the Northeastern Zone. Some wanted to delay the opener one week (from Oct. 7 to Oct. 14) to allow more water to get onto the Lower Klamath NWR before hunting begins, but others argued that good hunting dries up pretty quickly once the hard freeze comes, and hunters would not want to lose a week of hunting before that happens.
The Regulations & Traditions Committee’s recommendations were subsequently approved by the full CWA board. Now, the recommendations move on to the California F&G Commission, which will take action on the final waterfowl regulations at its April 26-27 meeting in Van Nuys. A CWA representative will speak at that meeting.
The Regulations & Traditions Committee is made of hunters from all over the state. If you're interested in joining the committee, contact CWA VP of Legislative Affairs and Public Policy Mark Hennelly at email@example.com.
Read CWA's comment letter to the CA Fish and Game Commission on the proposed 2017-18 Northeastern Zone here.
March 24, 2017
California Waterfowl is sponsoring two bills by Assembly Member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) to support private landowners who voluntarily manage their lands for waterfowl conservation purposes.
AB 472 would facilitate the establishment of additional waterfowl nesting cover on fallowed lands, including those involved with water transfers. This would particularly benefit breeding mallards in the rice growing areas of the Sacramento Valley that periodically participate in water transfers and offer beneficial mallard brood water in the spring and summer.
“We know that many landowners want to provide waterfowl and other conservation benefits on fallowed lands, but current regulations and lack of targeted state assistance limit their ability to do so,” stated Assembly Member Frazier. “AB 472 seeks to address these issues.”
The bill would strengthen a policy established in 2013 in the Water Code that requires the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to encourage non-irrigated cover crops and other natural vegetation on fallowed lands as part of water transfers. Many landowners still fear that they will be penalized by DWR if they do not remove or kill (e.g. disc or spray herbicides) the non-irrigated vegetative cover on these lands. The bill would help ensure that any requirement by DWR to remove or manipulate that cover is based on credible scientific data and it accomplished in a way the reduces impacts to waterfowl and other wildlife.
AB 472 would also create an incentive-based program for landowners who are willing to maintain wildlife cover on any fallowed lands.
AB 718 (Frazier) would reduce mosquito spraying costs for private landowners who manage wetlands under conservation easements or similar state or federal agreements and agree to implement best management practices (BMPs) to control mosquitoes.
Spraying of insecticides for mosquito abatement purposes, while often necessary to protect public health, costs many wetland owners thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars each year. These costs leave less funding for necessary wetland maintenance activities that optimize food resources and habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species. They also provide a growing disincentive for private landowners, who currently own two-thirds of California’s remaining wetlands, to conserve wetlands in perpetuity.
“CWA greatly appreciates the willingness of Assembly Member Frazier to author these important bills, and we look forward to working with him to support duck clubs, farmers and other landowners who provide waterfowl conservation benefits on their property” stated Mark Hennelly, CWA Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Public Policy.
AB 472 recently passed through the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee with bipartisan support. AB 718 is scheduled to be heard in late April.
March 6, 2017
The kids held ducks, they painted ducks, they sketched ducks, they learned to identify and call ducks. Really, it was all about the ducks.
We’re talking about Duck Days 2017, an educational festival near Davis in late February where California Waterfowl and other wildlife organizations taught families about waterfowl and wetland conservation, among other topics.
About 600 people attended the event, and CWA was on hand to teach children aspects of biology, hunting and art, while giving them something they could take home from the day – a decoy cut-out they painted, with a little guidance from our education staff.
CWA is always glad to participate in events such as Duck Days, as we believe that hands-on waterfowl and wetland education is vital to our conservation efforts. Other participants in the event included the city of Davis, the Yolo Basin Foundation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Yolo Audubon Society.
A drought-busting January has come to a close. A series of storms throughout the month have brought more than 300 percent of normal precipitation to most of the state.
The deluge increased water storage to 112 percent of its average after years of drought left a string of parched reservoirs throughout California.
It is undeniably good news for the state’s water supply, but problems linger beneath the surface. The state’s investment in new water storage infrastructure has been stalled for decades, while California’s population continues to increase.
Water demand is increasing, while the supply has stayed flat. Do the math.
This is where Sites Reservoir, a proposed water storage project in Colusa and Glenn counties, comes into play.
Sites Reservoir is an ideal project for the 21st century, where concerns about the environment and the effects of climate change exist alongside water supply needs for agriculture, cities and wildlife. It is an off-stream reservoir, meaning it will pump water from the Sacramento River during periods of high flows. It will not block rearing habitat of endangered fish, and it will provide water managers with the flexibility to better manage the water supply for the benefits of farmers and the environment.
Moreover, Sites will capture water that is currently spilling into the ocean, unused. This year, with the heavy January storms, Sites could have captured more than 585,000 acre-feet of water (almost 200 billion gallons). For reference, in normal years, the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge complex (Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa and Sutter refuges) use between 21,000 and 24,000 acre-feet of water.
California Waterfowl supports this project because of the benefit its water supply could have for waterfowl. It could provide a source of water during dry years for the Sacramento Valley wildlife refuges, and it could ease restrictions on moving water south of the Delta to the Grasslands Water District and other San Joaquin Valley refuges.
For more information on the project, visit www.sitesproject.org.