Since 2014, CDFW has taken many actions to protect native fish species and recreational and commercial fisheries impacted by the severe drought. These actions include aquatic stressor monitoring, fish rescues, hatchery improvements, and drought-related restoration projects.
We have monitored aquatic habitats in creeks and rivers throughout the State (coastal watersheds, the Central Valley, Sierra Nevada and interior desert creeks) for dangerous conditions caused by the drought (low flow, high water temperature, fragmented pools and channels) and stressed fish populations. Monitoring continued until the heavy rains in the late fall of 2016 and may continue in 2017 in still-stressed waters in southern California.
For the past 3 years, CDFW has deployed staff to rescue threatened and endangered fish species on many rivers across the State. Fish rescues peaked in 2015 and continued in 2016. Rescues have focused on the most threatened native fish such as salmon and trout species, and inland freshwater species including species of special concern, such as Unarmored Three-spine Stickleback and Sacramento Perch.
CDFW’s hatcheries have experienced severe difficulties because of decreased water supply, inferior water quality, and increased threat of water pathogens, because of the prolonged drought. Hatchery improvements such as additional water filtration, the use of ultraviolet light to kill pathogens, and installation of self-contained circular fish tanks have enabled several State facilities to rear trout, steelhead and salmon under these abnormal conditions. Hatchery improvements made to address the impacts of the drought have also allowed CDFW to bring the most-at risk populations of some fish species, including Coho Salmon, Golden Trout, Central Valley Steelhead, and Unarmored Three-spine Stickleback into captivity. Many facilities have been improved in the last three years or are currently being improved, including American River and Merced River hatcheries, Mt. Shasta and Iron Gate Fish hatcheries, Darrah Springs Trout Hatchery, and King Fisher Flat Hatchery.
We have also performed focused habitat restoration during the past three years to improve river conditions for native species and make fish habitat more resilient to drought, now and in the future. In 2014 and 2015, the Fisheries Restoration Grants Program provided $4.2 million for 32 habitat restoration projects in coastal watersheds from San Diego to Del Norte counties. The Sacramento River Basin has also been a focus for restoration efforts, specifically to benefit at-risk Winter-run and Spring-run Chinook Salmon. For Sacramento River habitats, CDFW has constructed a salmon fish trap for the Coleman Fish Hatchery (2014), published the Battle Creek Winter-run Chinook Salmon Reintroduction Plan (2016),and we are still monitoring real-time river temperature, removing Deer Creek fish barriers, monitoring Sacramento Steelhead, and evaluating Green Sturgeon populations
- DROUGHT STRESSOR MONITORING, STATEWIDE RESPONSE SUMMARY REPORT 2014-2017 (PDF)
- DROUGHT STRESSOR MONITORING, SAN JOAQUIN TRIBUTARIES
- DROUGHT STRESSOR MONITORING, FRESHWATER CREEK
- 2017 UPDATE: DROUGHT STRESSOR MONITORING, VOLCANIC CREEK
- 2016 UPDATE: DROUGHT STRESSOR MONITORING, RUSSIAN RIVER WATERSHED
- 2016 UPDATE: DROUGHT STRESSOR MONITORING, UPPER SACRAMENTO RIVER
- 2017 UPDATE: DROUGHT STRESSOR MONITORING, BUTTE CREEK
- 2016 UPDATE: DROUGHT STRESSOR MONITORING, HUMBOLDT-MENDOCINO
- 2016 UPDATE: DROUGHT STRESSOR MONITORING, REDWOOD CREEK-HUMBOLDT
- WINTER-RUN CHINOOK SALMON REINTRODUCTION PLAN FOR BATTLE CREEK (PDF)(opens in new tab)
- San Francisco Chronicle: MUIR WOODS COHO SALMON VANISH, FANNING FEARS OF EXTINCTION(opens in new tab)
- Sacramento Bee: CALIFORNIA DROUGHT PROMPTING EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES TO PROTECT SALMON(opens in new tab)
- AGENCIES TAKING MEASURES TO PROTECT WINTER-RUN CHINOOK, PREPARING TO RELEASE APPROXIMATELY 600,000 FISH(opens in new tab)
- CDFW RESUMES TROUT PLANTING IN KERN AND TULARE COUNTY WATERWAYS(opens in new tab)
- CDFW MOVES TO PREVENT FISH LOSS, EVACUATES FISH AT AMERICAN RIVER AND NIMBUS HATCHERIES(opens in new tab)
- STATE AND FEDERAL AGENCIES EVALUATE NEW DROUGHT CONTINGENCY PLAN TO HELP COMMERCIAL FISHING AND UTILIZE TRUCKING OF SALMON SMOLTS(opens in new tab)
- CDFW TRUCKS SALMON SMOLTS TO THE GOLDEN GATE TO HELP THEM AVOID PREDATORS(opens in new tab)
- JOINT RELEASE OF FEDERAL RECOVERY PLAN FOR SALMON AND STEELHEAD AND CONSERVATION STRATEGY FOR CALIFORNIA’S ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION PROGRAM(opens in new tab)
- CDFW PUTS CLOSURES IN EFFECT ON SOME RIVERS, RECOMMENDS FURTHER CHANGES TO THE FISH AND GAME COMMISSION
- CDFW TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETINGS ON PROPOSED LOW-FLOW CLOSURE OF THE RUSSIAN RIVER(opens in new tab)
- CDFW ASKS TROUT ANGLERS TO BE MINDFUL DURING DROUGHT(opens in new tab)
- ALL CASE STUDIES
- CDFW conducted a drought vulnerability assessment of 358 terrestrial vertebrate species, including amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Species were ranked according to factors such as life history traits, dependency on water or wetland habitat, population, and geographic range. Forty-eight Priority I species were identified as being most at risk from drought related conditions, and another 57 species may also be vulnerable to ongoing drought. This exercise allowed CDFW to prioritize monitoring and management efforts.
- Terrestrial vertebrate wildlife have been monitored at more than 300 locations throughout the Great Valley and Mojave Desert eco-regions, and another 300 study sites are being monitored in 2017. Monitoring data will be used to better understand the impacts of habitat conditions, including drought, on the distribution and abundance of wildlife species.
- CDFW’s California Wildlife Habitat Relationships program staff analyzed the potential effects of warming and drying on the habitats of 646 amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles by assessing vegetation climate vulnerability and exposure data, relative to the Department’s data on the range and suitable types of habitat for each species. From this data we are creating maps to indicate the predicted suitable habitat for each species within its range, and the level of expected exposure to increasing warmth and dryness in each habitat. We will also use this data to further refine the list of drought-sensitive species, identify areas where efforts should be focused to promote wildlife resiliency, and prioritize our monitoring and management actions throughout the state.
- Increased human-wildlife interaction has been reported, and may be due to drought conditions forcing wild animals to search father than normal for food. CDFW initiated a statewide response and data collection effort to address these human-wildlife conflicts, prioritizing those instances where drought was likely to have caused the interaction or that occurred in communities most impacted by drought.
- The endangered Amargosa vole, a small rodent native to desert marshes not far from Death Valley, has seen its habitat quality decline as a consequence of reduced water dependability. This is believed exacerbated by climate change and drought. CDFW, in collaboration with UC Davis, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management rescued 20 animals to create a captive breeding program that now houses more than 100 voles. The Vole Team is actively restoring habitat in anticipation of releasing captive voles into the wild and studying the effects of drought and climate change on the desert marshes that support not only voles, but many unique species. Read more about the Amargosa vole.
- CDFW has partnered with National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service biologists to determine habitat conditions and populations status for drought-vulnerable amphibians – including mountain yellow-legged frog, Yosemite toad, and Cascades frog – in high elevation areas of the state.
- CDFW biologists and researchers from Humboldt State University and UC Berkeley conducted a study to evaluate the effects of supplemental feeding on giant kangaroo rat populations in the San Joaquin Valley. Giant kangaroo rats are an endangered species, and are also a keystone species that provides food and habitat for other listed animals, including the San Joaquin kit fox and blunt-nosed leopard lizard. Supplemental feeding increased the number of giant kangaroo rats at all study sites.
- CDFW conducted studies to evaluate giant garter snake populations and habitat conditions in the Central Valley, and restored Snake Marsh at Cosumnes River Preserve. Read more about the giant garter snake.(opens in new tab)
- CDFW led an effort to locate and monitor all tricolored blackbird breeding colonies occurring on agricultural grain fields (where they are vulnerable to losses due to harvest), and collaborated with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to protect colonies by compensating landowners to delay harvest. All vulnerable colonies in 2016 were protected, and the nests of more than 50,000 breeding birds were saved at eight colony sites. Read more about the tricolored blackbird.
- SCIENTISTS WORK TO SAVE ENDANGERED DESERT MAMMAL(opens in new tab)
- CDFW REMINDS THE PUBLIC THAT WILD ANIMALS DO NOT NEED HANDOUTS(opens in new tab)
- CDFW ASKS PROPERTY OWNERS TO REPORT WATERFOWL MORTALITY(opens in new tab)
CDFW is heavily involved in operations to rid our state of illegal marijuana grows. The Governor’s 2015-16 budget bill provided $7.7 million to regulate and enforce unauthorized water diversions and pollution to surface and groundwater caused by marijuana cultivation. This established a permanent multi-agency task force to address the environmental impacts of marijuana cultivation and initiate activities, in coordination with state agencies, to develop a regulatory program for medical marijuana cultivation. Marijuana plants use six to eight gallons of water per plant, per day, and are a direct hazard to wildlife that eat the plants. Even growers who have been authorized to cultivate marijuana in the state are often unaware of the need to get a permit from CDFW for diverting water from a stream. Please click any of the links below for information on marijuana-related actions.
Drought projects CEQA and Water Code suspension list
On April 25, 2014, Governor Brown issued “A Proclamation of Continued State of Emergency,” an executive order that, among other things, directs CDFW to take certain actions to respond to drought conditions. The proclamation also suspends certain legal and regulatory requirements to allow actions to take place as quickly as possible
Item 26 of the Governor’s Executive Order No. B-29-15 (PDF)(opens in new tab), dated April 1, 2015, suspends the California Environmental Quality Act as it applies to regulatory approvals necessary for the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) for its Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier Project. This suspension allowed CDFW to issue Incidental Take Permit No. 2081-2014-026-03 and Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreement No. 1600-2014-0111-R3 to DWR.
In 2015 and 2016 Governor Brown issued Executive Order No. B-36-15 (PDF)(opens in new tab) and Executive Order B-37-16 (PDF)(opens in new tab), which both specify that the April 25, 2014 Proclamation and Executive Order B-29-15 shall remain in full force and effect except as modified.
Item 19 of the proclamation suspends environmental review required by the California Environmental Quality Act for the following projects being undertaken by CDFW:
- Hill Slough Tidal Restoration Project
- San Joaquin River Restoration Program Emergency Water Chillers
- Honey Lake Wildlife Area pipeline and pivot irrigation
- Ash Creek Wildlife Area dam replacement and pipeline installation
- Ash Creek Wildlife Area restoration of Ash Creek
- North Coast wildlife areas irrigation system replacement
- Honey Lake Wildlife Area, Dakin Unit well replacement
- Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area well installation
- Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area recycled water system
- Canebrake Ecological Reserve well refurbishment
- Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve water catchment system
- Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve solar well installation
- Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve water delivery pipeline
- Burcham Wheeler Ecological Reserve meadow restoration
- Imperial Wildlife Area water delivery system enhancement
- Shasta Valley Wildlife Area Water Diversion and Fish Screen Improvements
- Upper Sacramento River Anadromous Fish Habitat Restoration Project
Item 20 of the proclamation suspends Chapter 3 of Part 3 (commencing with section 85225) of the Water Code for the following projects being undertaken by CDFW:
- Hill Slough Tidal Restoration Project
- Lindsey Slough Tidal Restoration Project