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:
Federal Farm Bill
The 2018 Farm Bill has passed, and it provides significant funding for a number of conservation programs that will benefit waterfowl and sportsmen, including:
- The Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), which provides grants to state agencies to increase public access on private lands, particularly for hunting purposes. This program could provide significant funding for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s SHARE Program.
- The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides farmers financial assistance to implement a variety of conservation practices. This program could help support the Nesting Bird Habitat Incentive Program, which was created in 2018 through a CWA-sponsored bill (AB 2697 by James Gallagher, R-Yuba City) to create and enhance nesting habitat for mallards and pheasants on fallowed lands.
- The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which fosters partnerships with farmers, state agencies and nonprofit groups to implement conservation initiatives. RCPP could also help support California’s Nesting Bird Habitat Incentive Program.
- The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) supports the former Wetlands Reserve Program, which is used by many duck clubs that choose to protect their wetlands in perpetuity.
Over the last three years, CWA met with members of California’s delegation on numerous occasions to point out the waterfowl and wetland benefits of Farm Bill programs. But we especially applaud the significant efforts by our national waterfowl partners, Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl. Those efforts ensured a strong Farm Bill conservation title and significant funding for waterfowl interests across the U.S.
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.
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.
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.
Junior license age extension
We are sponsoring AB 284 (Jim Frazier, D-Oakley), which would make permanent the 2014 law extending junior hunting license eligibility to youth ages 16 and 17 at the beginning of the license year (July 1).
Fur product manufacturing and sales ban
We oppose AB 44 (Friedman, D-Burbank), which would ban the sale and manufacture of fur products.
We oppose AB 273 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego), which would “prohibit the trapping of any fur-bearing mammal or nongame mammal for purposes of recreation or commerce in fur and would prohibit the sale of the raw fur of any fur-bearing mammal or nongame mammal.”