California Waterfowl’s advocacy team works on a variety of issues affecting waterfowl and waterfowl hunters at all times. Read about the issues here, and if you sign up for alerts, we’ll let you know when it’s critical for our members and supporters to contact their representatives.
We work on a lot of issues—use these links to skip to what interests you:
Proposition 3 – an $8.87 billion water bond measure on the November ballot – represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide long-term support of some of the most important aspects of waterfowl conservation in California: hunting opportunity, water deliveries to refuges, wetland creation and enhancement on private lands, and mallard breeding habitat initiatives.
Dubbed the Water Supply and Water Quality Act of 2018, Prop 3 would provide the single greatest amount of waterfowl and managed wetland-related habitat funding of any statewide initiative ever considered by the California electorate.
Specifically, the water bond would provide $280 million to the Wildlife Conservation Board for projects to protect migratory birds through habitat acquisition, easements, restoration or other projects. And it would provide water for wildlife refuges and wildlife habitat areas to support goals and objectives set by the Central Valley Joint Venture, a coalition of state and federal resource agencies and wetland conservation organizations.
Here’s how it breaks down:
• $120 million to acquire and protect migratory bird habitat and provide water for wetlands.
• $40 million for the California Waterfowl Habitat Program (aka Presley Program) and other waterfowl-related landowner incentive programs used by duck clubs and other private landowners.
• $10 million for the SHARE Program to provide public hunting opportunities on private lands via voluntary landowner agreements.
• $110 million for water and the infrastructure needed to deliver it to national wildlife refuges, state wildlife areas and private duck clubs in the Grassland Water District, pursuant to the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
Federal Farm Bill
The 2018 Farm Bill is currently being debated in the U.S. Congress. There are a number of provisions being considered that would benefit waterfowl conservation and hunters. This includes funding for the Conservation Reserve Program, which particularly benefits nesting waterfowl in the Prairie Pothole region; the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, which provides grants to states to open private lands to public hunting (such as California’s SHARE Program); and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which provides grants to states for conservation initiatives on private lands. The Farm Bill delivers over $5 billion in conservation funding annually, and provides significant benefits to farmers, landowners and sportsmen across the country. CWA is working with a host of other waterfowl conservation partners and sporting interests to help pass a Farm Bill with continued strong conservation elements. View our letter (PDF) here.
Federal Sportsmen’s Act: S.733 would make it U.S. policy to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, noncommercial fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities on federal land; conserve and enhance aquatic systems and the management of game species and the habitat of those species on federal land; and consider hunting, noncommercial fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities as part of all federal plans for land, resource, and travel management.
California Waterfowl supports this bill.
Humboldt aquaculture expansion: California Waterfowl, California Audubon and local hunters have fought an oyster farm expansion project for North Humboldt Bay because of its potential impacts on brant.
The California Coastal Commission rejected the Coast Seafood project expansion in 2017 and is working to minimize aquaculture impacts on brant and eelgrass . Additional projects are proposed by other interests, and California Waterfowl continues to monitor and comment on those proposals to ensure brant don’t lose critical habitat.
The original proposal would have affected about 600 acres of bay and tidelands, including eelgrass beds that provide food and habitat for brant and other waterfowl. These areas are also used for waterfowl hunting, particularly sculling.
Nesting habitat incentive – passed and signed by governor
We supported AB 2697 (Gallagher, R-Yuba City), a CWA-sponsored bill that would create a waterfowl and upland game bird nesting habitat incentive program for farmers who wish to fallow a portion of their land in California. View our letter (PDF) here.
Winter flooding of rice – passed and signed by governor
We supported AB 2348 (Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters) which would allow the Department of Fish and Wildlife to enter into contracts with private landowners and help offset the costs of winter flooding of rice. View our letter (PDF) here.
Proposition 68 – passed 56.5% to 43.5%
Prop 68, a $4 billion park bond on the June 5, 2018, ballot, contains important benefits for waterfowl, wetlands and hunting, secured in no small part due to the efforts of California Waterfowl and other Central Valley Joint Venture partners. It passed 56.5% to 43.5%.
The bond includes $188 million that can be used on conservation project including:
• Incentives for private duck clubs to undertake habitat work, such as summer brood ponds.
• Restoring and improving meadows, wetlands and riparian habitat in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains.
• Improving conditions for fish and wildlife in streams, rivers, wildlife refuges, wetland habitat areas and estuaries.
• Incentives for private landowners to provide hunting and other recreational opportunities for the public—such as CWA’s Hunt Program hunts—on their land.
• Completing deferred maintenance on DFW lands and facilities.
Bullet train through the Grasslands: The California High-Speed Rail Authority wants to run a 225 mph bullet train through the heart of the Grasslands Ecological Area – the largest intact freshwater wetlands remaining in California. California Waterfowl supports the Grassland Water District’s proposal to put the railroad be put underground. There has been no response from the state.
Development on San Jacinto’s doorstep: The Riverside County Board of Supervisors have approved a massive development next to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area despite the objections of California Waterfowl, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and numerous advocates for the area. California Waterfowl will work with the county and the developer to reduce the impacts of this development on wildlife.
Water for the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge: One of California’s critical waterfowl migration staging areas and breeding grounds is being starved of essential water supplies. But it’s because of policy choices, not drought.
The issue is complex because there are many competing demands for available water in the region: farms, tribes, agriculture, endangered fish species and waterfowl. One potential solution that would have given Lower Klamath adequate water in nine out of every ten years was scuttled due to an impasse over whether dams on the Klamath River should be removed.
The latest: The Klamath Tribes are suing to hold more water in Upper Klamath Lake, a move that could severely harm the Lower Klamath NWR as well as the farms that migratory birds depend on for food during the migration. A judge denied a preliminary injunction on July 20 – read more here. You can read a letter from California Waterfowl and other conservation organizations and agricultural interests to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke here (PDF).
Sites Reservoir: California’s water system is designed to push water out to sea during periods of heavy rainfall, squandering a valuable resource. The Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley would capture and store this water, then make it available to managed wetlands throughout the valley in times of need.
Twin Tunnels: The Twin Tunnels project (formerly known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, now called WaterFix), is a controversial proposal to build two large tunnels under the Delta that would move water from the Sacramento River to south of the Delta. California Waterfowl is generally neutral on the WaterFix project, because while members north of the Delta generally oppose the Twin Tunnels, members south of the Delta would benefit from improved water supply and reliability. However, we have taken positions on any aspects that would affect waterfowl, wetlands and waterfowl hunters.
In addition, in May 2018, a “rider” was attached to the federal Department of Interior appropriations bill that would exempt the environmental documents for WaterFix from legal challenges at either the federal or the state level. The environmental documents list the identified impacts of the project and describe the ways the project will avoid or mitigate these impacts. If this information is faulty, it could affect waterfowl and also California Waterfowl’s own properties. We believe exempting these documents from legal challenges is bad policy, sets a bad precedent and violates due process and state rights. Action Alert: Click here to contact your representatives in Congress about this.
Bay-Delta Plan: The State Water Resources Control Board, which regulates water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is updating its Bay-Delta Plan. The update proposes to set “unimpaired flow” objectives for the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and tributaries including the Feather, Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers. These flow requirements would last from February through June on the San Joaquin River and its tributaries, and would require the release of water from reservoirs to increase flows in the Delta. These releases would decrease the water supply for existing users on those rivers for the benefit of salmon and other endangered fish species.
California Waterfowl believes that the State Board’s goals for recovering fish populations would be better met through voluntary agreements that would provide functional flows that benefit salmon without harming other water uses. Science is increasingly showing that salmon gain the greatest benefit from time spent in the floodplain, including managed wetlands and rice fields, which you can read about here (PDF). A focus on the floodplain could benefit fish, waterfowl, other endangered species, and farmers, and would protect cities from flooding. Merely providing greater flows to the Delta has already been shown to not benefit fish and to waste water for other users.
2018-19 waterfowl regulations in California: California Waterfowl supports changes to California’s waterfowl regulations in 2018-19, including a return to a daily pintail bag limit of two, and changes to goose hunting regulations in the Northeastern Zone. Read the latest news here.
Pintail seasons and limits: A growing body of research tells us that the current restrictive limits on northern pintail are not helping to restore the species to its 1970s abundance – it may be that the pintail population is as good as it can get given the impact of agricultural practices on its breeding grounds.
Recent pintail news:
Letter to CDFG Commission seeking modified closing date (Nov. 30, 2018)
Chair’s Message: Pushing for pintail progress (Nov. 26, 2018)
Pintail daily limit expected to return to 1 in 2019-20 season (Aug. 24, 2018)
Plan to explore 3-pintail option moves forward (March 28, 2018)
CWA seeks 3-pintail limit (Feb. 25, 2018)
White goose conservation season: White goose (lesser snow and Ross’s) populations in the Pacific Flyway are far above population objectives and run the risk of doing habitat and agricultural damage if the populations aren’t brought under control. In 2016, at California Waterfowl’s request, the Pacific Flyway Council asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider a conservation order for white geese, which would allow hunting past March 10 each year. In March 2018, the Department of the Interior asked for more documentation of agricultural damage being caused by white geese. The process continues.
Hunting season closing date: Regular waterfowl seasons currently end the last Sunday in January. California Waterfowl has joined with other organizations representing hunters in California asking the Pacific Flyway Council to recommend allowing states to end their regular seasons on Jan. 31 each year, regardless of the day of the week.
Combo hunting-fishing license – did not pass
We supported SB 1311 (Berryhill, R-Modesto), a CWA-sponsored bill that would create a discounted annual combination hunting and fishing license in California. View our letter (PDF) here.
12-month fishing license – did not pass
We supporedt SB518 (Berryhill-R-Modesto), a bill to make fishing licenses valid for 12 months from the date of purchase, instead of for the calendar year. View our letter (PDF) here.
Importing African animal parts – passed but vetoed by governor
We opposed SB1487 (Stern, D-Canoga Park), a bill to prohibit importing parts of the following animals from Africa, even when legally hunted: African elephant, African lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros, giraffe, Jentink’s duiker, plains zebra, mountain zebra, hippopotamus and striped hyena. It would have created fines of $5,000 to $40,000 for the first offense. View our letter (PDF) here. View the governor’s veto message (PDF) here.
Veteran hunting licenses and 12-month fishing licenses – did not pass
We supported AB 986 (Gallagher, R-Yuba City), which would reduce the cost of hunting and fishing licenses for honorably discharged California veterans. The bill also gives anglers a license option that is valid for 12 consecutive months from date of purchase. View our letter (PDF) here.
Apprentice hunter tags – passed and signed by governor
We supported AB 2151 (Gray, D-Merced), which would reduce the price of resident antelope, elk, bear and bighorn sheep tags for apprentice hunters in California to $20. View our letter (PDF) here.
Free hunting days – did not pass
We supported AB 2670 (Kiley, R-Roseville), which would require the state to offer two free hunting days each year, once in fall and once in winter. No hunting license would be required to hunt on those days, but the unlicensed hunter would have to be accompanied by a licensed hunter. View our letter (PDF) here.
Non-lead ammunition – failed in committee
We supported AB 3117 (Mathis, R-Visalia), which would temporarily suspend the non-lead ammunition mandate for hunting in California if the Fish and Game Commission finds that a specific caliber of non-lead ammunition is not available to the public. View our letter (PDF) here.
Firearms as raffle prizes – did not pass
We opposed AB 3199 (Holden, D-Pasadena), which would allow charitable organizations to hold no more than three events per here where firearms could be offered as raffle prizes. View our letter (PDF) here. Read our statement here.
Dealer inspection requirements – did not pass
We opposed SB 459 (Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge), which would increase inspection requirements for licensed firearms dealers in California.
Suppressors for long guns and hunting – failed in committee
We supported SB 1092 (Anderson, R-Alpine), which would legalize suppressors for long guns and allow their use in hunting. View our letter (PDF) here.
Dog transportation restrictions – passed but vetoed by governor
As introduced AB 2362 (Rubio, D-West Covina), would place temperature, ventilation and lighting restrictions on the transportation of dogs by breeders and other for-profit entities, which includes dog breeders and hunting guides who use dogs, in California. View our letter (PDF) here. Note: This bill was amended to our satisfaction to omit for-profit entities. View the amendment here. View the governor’s veto message (PDF) here.