California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Stanislaus River Report

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Stanislaus River Basin and Calaveras River Water Use Program
Threatened and Endangered Species Report - March 1995
Bay Delta and Special Water Projects Division, CA Dept. of Fish and Game


Project permitting and approval requires compliance with the 1970 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the 1984 California Endangered Species Act (CESA). CESA authorizes the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) to designate endangered, threatened, and rare plant species and to regulate the taking of these species. In addition to recognizing these levels, the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) can afford interim protection to candidate species while they are being reviewed by the Commission. The CDFG also maintains a list of animal "species of special concern (SCS)". This category is a CDFG administrative designation used for those species that appear to be declining. Although these species have no legal status, CDFG recommends consideration of them during analysis of the impacts of a proposed project.

Early in 1993 a Habitat Evaluation Procedures (HEP) team was established and was comprised of member of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), DWR, and CDFG. HEP is a habitat-based evaluation methodology used to quantify baseline wildlife habitat values and assess how these values are affected by proposed projects. It was developed by USFWS in the early 1970s. A reconnaissance-level trip was needed before the HEP began. This involved all participants and covered the entire length of the river by canoe or raft enabling the HEP team to determine what habitat types existed along the river and to aid model selection. Although this was not a formal wildlife survey, all sightings were recorded. Additionally, sightings during the HEP data collection phase were also recorded.

Late in 1993, DWR contracted with CDFG to conduct surveys for determining the presence and distribution of listed and candidate species including amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals along the Stanislaus River. The study area is the same used by the HEP team and is described in section 2.0. Threatened and endangered species surveys were needed to determine the baseline environmental conditions of the Stanislaus River. This baseline information will be used to evaluate environmental affects by a proposed project or alternative and would be included in any future Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement. The contract for the threatened and endangered species work was signed 4 October 1994 by DWR and CDFG, and formal surveys began in early November 1994. This report describes the study area; the methodology used for CDFG surveys; and those listed and candidate species, their range and the potential for occurrence along the Stanislaus River, and possible impacts. This report could also be used as a basis for a Biological Assessment for the CESA and the Federal Endangered Species Act.

An Interdisciplinary Team (IDTeam) was established and met regularly during 1993 and 1994, prior to the commencement of any HEP work. At a meeting of the IDTeam held on 20 December 1994 DWR announced that it was reviewing its participation in this project and would make a decision at the end of the month regarding further involvement on their part. In early December 1994, prior to the meeting on the 20th of December, CDFG biologists were directed to suspend activities related to this project until DWR reaches a decision. Due to the early suspension of wildlife surveys, the information contained within this report is the result of a literature search and a limited survey effort.