Inland Deserts Region
California's fish and wildlife resources, including their habitats, are held in trust for the people of the State by CDFW (Fish and Game Code § 711.7). CDFW has jurisdiction over the conservation, protection, and management of fish, wildlife, native plants, and the habitats necessary for biologically sustainable populations of those species (Fish and Game Code § 1802). CDFW's fish and wildlife management functions are implemented through its administration and enforcement of Fish and Game Code (Fish and Game Code § 702).
Lake and Streambed Alteration Program (LSA)
The Lake and Streambed Alteration Program determines whether an agreement is needed for an activity that will substantially modify a river, steam or lake. If CDFW determines that the activity may substantially adversely affect fish and wildlife resources, a Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement will be prepared. The Agreement includes reasonable conditions necessary to protect those resources and must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Review
The Inland Deserts Region reviews CEQA documents for proposed projects in Mono, Inyo, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial Counties and provides comment as the State agency which has statutory and common law responsibilities for fish and wildlife resources and habitats. CDFW is a trustee agency for fish and wildlife under the CEQA (see CEQA Guidelines, 14 Cal. Code Regs. § 15386(a)).
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) Permitting
CESA was enacted to conserve, protect, enhance, and restore state-listed threatened or endangered species and their habitats. If a CEQA project has the potential to result in take of species of plants or animals listed under CESA, either during construction or over the life of the project, CDFW works with project proponents to create project modification and mitigation measures in order to obtain a CESA Permit. CESA allows CDFW to authorize project proponents to take state-listed threatened, endangered, or candidate species if certain conditions are met.
Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) Act
NCCP was added to CESA in 1991 (Fish & Game Code § 2800-2840). These provisions provide for voluntary cooperation among CDFW, landowners, and other interested parties to develop natural community conservation plans which provide for early coordination of efforts to protect listed species or species that are not yet listed. The primary purpose of an NCCP is to preserve species and their habitats, while allowing reasonable and appropriate development to occur on affected lands. NCCPs are grounded in a number of basic principles that frame the outcome of the planning process for future conservation, land use and governance.
Owens Lake Master Plan
The Owens Lake Master Plan is a collaborative planning effort that promotes dust control efforts that balance the needs of wildlife habitat, water conservation, and other lake resources. The majority of Owens Lake is held in the public trust by the California State Lands Commission with dust control implemented by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The lakes' value to wildlife has been greatly enhanced by flooding much of the lake surface. The lake and the wildlife it supports are of statewide importance. The Audubon Society has identified the Owens Lake as a nationally significant Important Bird Area. Abundant wildlife populations at Owens Lake benefit public uses and wildlife values central to the mission of CDFW.
Since 1996 Bishop Field Office staff have been restoring habitat for native frog populations in the Eastern Sierra. In response to the observed decline of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae), CDFW initiated several actions to meet the state's responsibility to manage wildlife and their habitats for multiple uses. The two most important actions were 1) to temporarily suspend non-native fish stocking in high mountain lakes and 2) to initiate the High Mountain Lakes project (HML) which is an effort to inventory the aquatic vertebrate species (fish and amphibians) and their habitat between 1,370 to 3,660 meters elevation (4,500 to 12,000 feet) in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Along with these two actions, a dialogue was initiated with researchers, other government agencies, and user groups to discuss management of the Sierra Nevada aquatic ecosystems. This continuing project is closing the gap in baseline data necessary to develop biologically sound long term aquatic biodiversity management plans specific to hydrologic basins of the Sierra Nevada. CDFW anticipates that development and implementation of these plans will help stabilize and reverse negative effects of non-native fish introductions on native frog populations while maintaining viable recreational angling as a historic use pattern in a manner consistent with both the mission of CDFW and the guidelines set forth in the federal Endangered Species Act. There are now 22 lakes and associated waters that are fishless and being managed for native frogs.
The Inland Deserts Region has completed eight (of 22) Aquatic Biodiversity Management Plans and implemented six native species restoration projects. Each of these projects has proven successful in expanding the available habitat for native species and increasing the population size within the project area.