Drought related actions to preserve and protect the state’s fish and wildlife resources

The state of California is facing another episode of drought. CDFW is taking imperative actions to preserve and protect the state's fish and wildlife resources. 

See also: Actions taken during 2012-2017 drought.

Partner and Multi-Agency Efforts

Fish Rescue and Stressor Monitoring

With climate change threatening the survival of at-risk native fish and aquatic species, the ecology of lake and river ecosystems, and the potential to eliminate many of the state’s salmon and freshwater fisheries, CDFW is putting additional resources to focus on monitoring and potential rescue efforts on watersheds and species identified in the previous drought, as well as expand into additional watersheds, especially those that provide habitat to special status species (e.g. state and/or federal Endangered Species Acts or listed as Species of Special Concern), or those that are expected to face the greatest risks from drought. Below are some of the actions CDFW have done to minimize the adverse impacts of drought on fish:

Hatcheries

CDFW is updating incubation and rearing enclosures, and water treatment and monitoring systems to many of the state’s over 80-year-old hatcheries to be resilient to climate-change, warming temperatures, and drier conditions for recreational and conservation hatchery production programs. In addition, specialized rearing enclosures are also needed to provide temporary safe havens for a growing number of native fish species in danger of losing their habitat to drought. CDFW has also implemented additional contingencies and mitigation measures to minimize the adverse impacts of drought on hatchery fish:

Water Operations, Permitting, and Legal

Lands and Lessen Wildlife Impacts

California’s natural lands support an incredible diversity of wildlife, but many state-owned wetlands and other vegetation communities are in poor condition. CDFW is taking action to manage and improve conveyance, wetland capacity and efficiency, surface water and groundwater use efficiencies, and provide water to lessen the impact of drought to wildlife on CDFW and partnership lands. This effort will amplify the “30 by 30” goal to conserve natural working lands for biodiversity in addition to acting as buffers for climate resilience.

Terrestrial Species Monitoring

California is home to a remarkably diverse array of wildlife and contains the highest number of native species in the United States, many of which can be found nowhere else on Earth. While many of these species are adapted to tolerate occasional droughts, extreme and prolonged drought conditions are likely to impact even the toughest organisms. CDFW is conducting terrestrial species and ecosystems monitoring to inform management actions that instill resilience to drought and climate change and preserve California’s incredible biodiversity. Using the methodologies, results, and lessons learned during its response to California’s last historic drought, CDFW carrying out statewide terrestrial species and ecosystem monitoring and vulnerability assessments that guide timely conservation and management actions. These essential data will inform habitat conservation, restoration, and management; human wildlife conflict response; emergency wildlife rescues; and captive rearing and propagation efforts for sensitive drought affected wildlife, including threatened and endangered species.

Law Enforcement

CDFW law enforcement is working overtime to address drought effects impacting increased poaching, streambed alteration violations, natural disaster response, increased homeless encampment, human / wildlife conflict, forensic analysis, and data collection.

CEQA Suspension List for Drought Activities or Approvals

On April 21, May 10, July 8, and October 19, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom issued drought-related Proclamations of State of Emergency for California. The Proclamations stated that for purposes of carrying out or approving actions contemplated by specified directives within the Proclamation, the environmental review by state agencies required by the California Environmental Quality Act and its regulations are suspended to the extent necessary to address the impacts of the drought statewide. Below is a list of CDFW activities or approvals issued under this suspension:

  • Department of Water Resources Emergency Drought Salinity Barriers Project: Incidental Take Permit No. 2081-2021-041-03, Streambed Alteration Agreement No. EPIMS-CCA-19852-R3, and as amended on November 30, 2021
  • Department of Water Resources Water Year 2021 June - August Temporary Urgency Change Petition: Minor Amendment to Incidental Take Permit No. 2081-2019-066-00 on June 2, 2021
  • Department of Water Resources Meet and Confer Process for Barker Slough Pumping Plant: Minor Amendment to Incidental Take Permit No. 2081-2019-066-00 on April 1, 2022
  • Department of Water Resources Water Year 2022 April - June Temporary Urgency Change Petition: Minor Amendment to Incidental Take Permit No. 2081-2019-066-00 on April 5, 2022
  • Camp Meeker Recreation and Park District Flow Release Notice of Exemption SCH No. 2022050426 on May 19, 2022