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October 10, 2003

Contacts:
Andy Atkinson, Wildlife Habitat Supervisor, (530) 538-2236
Lorna Bernard, Information Officer, (916) 653-0991

Budget Woes Translate To Decreased Services For Waterfowl Hunters

Waterfowl hunters who hunt on state wildlife areas and federal refuges will likely be impacted by state budget cuts, including early closures and reduced staffing levels, according to the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Statewide, there will be fewer staff at check stations and wildlife area offices. Two-day passes will no longer be sold at check stations, but will still be available from other normal sources. This will help speed up the check-in process in light of reduced staffing. There may be reduced maintenance on the wildlife areas, so the chance of temporary access restrictions due to road conditions, floods, or other occurrences could be greater than other years.

In addition, state and federal wildlife area managers will implement the following changes to normal operating procedures during waterfowl season. The changes are designed to reduce costs without significantly impacting hunter opportunity.

For Colusa, Sutter, Delevan and Sacramento National Wildlife Refuges, the following new procedures will be implemented:

* No backfill after 3 p.m. Hunters will not be allowed to enter after 3 p.m., but check stations will be staffed for exit purposes. * Staffing will be at minimum levels, which will result in slower processing for hunters. * No two-day pass sales.

For Gray Lodge Wildlife Area: * No backfill after 3 p.m. Hunters will not be allowed to enter after 3 p.m., but check stations will be staffed for exit purposes only. * No two-day pass sales.

For Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area (Little Dry Creek, Llano Seco, Howard Slough) * Three areas will use a lottery to facilitate a more efficient check-in prcess. * Check stations will be staffed from 4 a.m. to 3 p.m.

* Little Dry Creek and Howard Slough units will conduct lotteries the night before each hunt, with registration between 6 – 8 p.m. on the day before the hunt. * Llano Seco will accept registration for lotteries at 4 a.m. on the morning of normal shoot days, with drawings held at 4:30 a.m. * Hunters will not be allowed to enter after 3 pm * An “iron ranger” or “drop box” will be available for hunters to drop off report cards/entry permits. * Llano Seco will conduct lotteries for pheasant hunting on the special Monday and Tuesday hunts at the Howard Slough Check Station.

For all units operated by the Los Banos/ North Grasslands Wildlife Area complex including: Los Banos Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area, China Island, Salt Slough and Gadwall units of North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Merced NWR, San Luis, Kesterson, Freitas, and West Bear Creek units of San Luis NWR

* Reduced and/or delayed availability of harvest information * Reduction in office hours (office is expected to be closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

For Volta Wildlife Area:

Reduced check station hours, check station will be open from two hours prior to waterfowl shooting time to 3 p.m. A lottery for Volta hunters with out reservations will be held and administered at Los Banos Wildlife Area the evening prior to each waterfowl hunt day. An “iron ranger” will be available for hunters to drop off report cards after 3 p.m.

For the China Island Unit of North Grasslands Wildlife Area:

* Check Station will be closed; permits will be issued at the Kesterson Check Station on waterfowl hunt days. * A lottery for China Island hunters with out reservations will be held and administered at the Kesterson Check station the evening prior to each waterfowl hunt day. * Reservations for China Island will be accepted from 2 1/2 hours prior to waterfowl shooting time, until 1 1/2 hours before shooting time.

Due to the late spring rains in the Sacramento Valley, northern California rice crops got off to a late start. Consequently, some state and federal areas in the Sacramento Valley will remain closed during the first two weeks of the waterfowl season to allow rice farmers to complete their crop harvest. The following areas will open to public hunting on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2003:

State Areas Federal Areas Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Colusa National Wildlife Refuge Gray Lodge Wildlife Area Sutter National Wildlife Refuge Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area Delevan National Wildlife Refuge 1) Little Dry Creek Unit Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge 2) Howard Slough Unit llano Seco Unit

 

 

 

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