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Grasslands Hunter Input Meeting - Notes 2018. !!

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#1 Duckfan



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Posted 10 September 2018 - 02:35 PM

Thx to Kevin for sharing this report and readout from their meeting.

This is what All Refuges are required to hold... a hunter input meeting

This year’s Grasslands meeting had a very good turnout. Lots of new faces this year that have not attended previous meetings which was a decent show of representation. Most of the news for the 18-19 season is positive with many other good projects going on that folks should be aware of. The key point is there is a lot of money on the table out there trying to secure water and habitat to set the playing field up successfully for the future. I will do my best to cover what notes I took.

First up was Ric Ortega – Grasslands Water District

Ric is a tremendous asset for Grasslands water. He is very knowledgeable and works tirelessly to make sure we have places to enjoy waterfowl.

· Level 2 water supplies this year are at 100%

· Currently about 2000 acres a day are being flooded and that is moving toward 3000 acres

· South of Delta is getting about 250,000 acre feet plus additional water grabs to fulfill need

· Volta is already well underway of being flooded and habitat is favorable

· Level 4 water is about 60%

· Level 4 water is acquired through the BOR from willing sellers

· Big block of that comes from CCID and SJ Exchange contractors at the tune of about $500 acre foot with comes to about $8,000,000

· GWD does produce groundwater to supplement supplies

· Each year they spend about $20,000,000 for acquisitions/water delivery/wheeling agreements for conveyance – This water is not cheap folks

· In total about 87% of the supply for South of Delta this year which is decent but if we have a dry winter we have risks – a wet winter/spring ensures a good carry over

· Best bang for buck comes with a wet early spring into March when timothy germination is at peak

· One challenge is BOR did acquire some additional water north of Delta but it is difficult to move water through the Delta due to complexity

· Carry over and rescheduling is getting more challenging due to the political nature of water deliveries

· Ability to move water from Feb-May most critical so need a wet winter to help facilitate this

· Spoke of 1 billion coming from Prop 1 – passed in 2014 to raise Los Vaqueros Reservoir

· Spoke of importance of Bethany Pipeline which bypasses Federal pumps

· Pumps are tough to run due to standards imposed – tough to pull water through the system

· Funding from Prop 1 has to provide public benefit so the refuge programs are on the forefront to meet this criteria – this is good for refuge hunters

· Contra Costa Co. was given $500k to raise the dam

· This produces about 40,000 additional acre feet which equals about $20,000,000 per year

· How this water is wheeled is the challenge? Restoration funds will help support

· Sites Reservoir if in play could produce 35,000 additional acre feet

· Pacheco Reservoir being discussed

· San Luis Reservoir Dam due to for work so District is encouraging the water elevation to be raised when dam elevation is raised due to need to meet earthquake standards

· There is a water recirculation system being built on Gun Club Rd. which costs about $20 million. This creates an additional block of water that would be critical - $4 million from Prop 1 would cover this. Ag Service water district would fund some of that for a portion of the supply moving forward so it would be a shared venture

· Key point for hunters to walk away with is it takes billions of dollars to maintain water supplies for waterfowl. The GWD is working very hard in ensuring we have the supplies to keep this going.

Next up was Jack Sparks with the USFWS – Lots of good things happening on the refuges that folks should be aware of this season

· Merced NWR – no Manager yet. Washington dragging feet on hiring so they have not been given approval to hire yet. So Sean Brophy is pulling double duty and Kyle Whitaker is doing all of the field work over there so they are thin

· 100% flood up on all areas unless there are any pump or well related issues but none as of yet

· EBC did receive brood and molt water this summer and did do some irrigations

· Spring and summer irrigations did occur in managed units

· Moffet 3 on San Luis unit did receive a full rehab

· Kesterson moved Blind 3 and added Blind 3B. These are new fiberglass blinds with dog boxes

· Former Blind 11 has become an MI blind. It is a Xfowler HAXL type blind that can moved anywhere within the unit to hunt if the MI partner can move it. There are two Mobility assigned blinds now. The former 26 (still the same blind) and the new portable in the Blind 11 pond. This is great news for the MI hunters. They will be labeled Accessible Blind 1 and 2

· 28-31 is going back to refills again. This will be monitored during the season for conflicts so yield accordingly guys and keep your negative comments to yourselves and this will work. Be safe about it

· 21-22 will be both be hunted together again. If there are complaints about being too close they are subject to close again so make sure you are smart about low flying birds, etc.

· Lift 5 and 6 are being repaired at SL to help facilitate a much cleaner West Bear flood up

· Blind 9 at Merced has been replaced with a new blind with a dog box

· Spot discing occurred in 13,14 and 15 at Merced

· All blinds will be open on the opener

· Lone Tree is subject to opening depending on water levels in Mariposa Bypass

· Quotas should be good for the opener: SL 90 hunters, BG 100%, Kesterson 84 hunters, WBC 36 hunters, EBC 6 hunters, Merced 36,43 and Lone Tree (A and B not flooding due to water delivery problem)

Next up was Sean Allen from CDFW who spoke about Los Banos WA, Volta and Mud Slough

· WA’s got several new tractors and equipment this season which helped considerably

· Buttonwillow Drain repaired and replaced – CWA project and DU working on Boundary Drain by Beaver Pond which helps tremendously facilitate flood up and improved road for equipment moving

· Safflower plants looked good and hunters had a good opener on Doves

· 150 acres of watergrass were reseeded this year in various units

· Full flood up maps will be posted on CDFW webpage like last year

· Quotas are similar to last year:

Opening day – LB 70, Volta 100%, Mud Slough (Thanksgiving) 100%

November – same

December – LB 100

January - LB 120

· Volta – field 2D disced, 100% normal water year, Pond 10 was NOT drawn down again this year further creating a mess in that pond – Pond has filled in completely with unwanted vegetation

Next up was Steve Miyamoto from North Grasslands WA

· Salt Slough – 584 acres of watergrass – 290 acres of swamp timothy

· 40 hunter for opener, increasing as water increases

· Zone 13 will open second Sat in December

· 33,29/30, 27 all reseeded so will be tough walking

· AP’s same as last year but 46 received full rehab and won’t flood until later

· China Island – 5,17,18,24 all heavily disced and reseeded

· 262 acres of watergrass overall at CI

· J lateral canal has sediment build up which severely impacts ability to flood up refuge – quota will be like last year 10 on opener, 30 in Dec and 40 in January when it all floods up

· Gadwall 100% flood up and F will open Third Sat in November


· Ditch issue for south part of area – impacted irrigations severely in that portion of the area

· Pump 6 went down further impacting flood up

· Pump 4-5 being worked on so much of the east side was dry except Traction Ranch which did receive normal irrigations

· 315 dove hunters – almost a 9 bird avg

· They will be stage flooding again – water will be held off in November and increasing after Thanksgiving into December to time with arrival of birds

· Parking Lot 21 will flood up late due to water delivery issues

· Map of floodup available on request and should be posted on webpage

Scott Capra – CWA Biologist

· Spoke of project improving drop down gate between lot 6 and 8 along Buttonwillow – will help water deliveries

· Rehab of Deep well 2 and replaced screw gate

· Well rehab at China Island

· Helped with about 400 acres of discing in State WA’s

· About $556,000 spent on Grasslands WA’s in projects and enhancements

· 212 wetland acres enhanced but also mentioned indirect benefits by improving water deliveries to larger tracts

Matt Kaminski – DU

· Spent 500k at Mendota rehabbing 4,5,6 pumps and installing securing fencing around them – should be back online mid to late Oct – money came from Tulare Basin funds where obligations weren’t met so money allocated to Mendota instead

· Rehabbed 2 miles of laterals at Mendota and replacing 2 inlets next week from Slough

· About 450k of work at Salt Slough spraying herbicides, planting native grasses, etc. to restore upland areas that were decimated by pepperweed – land leveling, etc and contracting Bowles Farming for grass planting – should take about 2 years

· Replaced major conveyance structure from Salt Slough

· Pumps 5 and 6 at San Luis are being replaced as mentioned earlier – this is a DU project folks

· Lots of pipeline projects in the Tulare Basin – spoke of subsidence issues and the amount of money that has to be invested in combatting this issue

· Talked a lot about various grant work being done on Lone Tree Gun Club and along Santa Fe canal – Skeleton Weir to replace outdated structures with more efficient new ones

All in all it was a good meeting with a ton of information shared. I did my best to take notes and relay the message. It is nice to see more people attending and there was some good public input as well but nothing early ****tering there that I felt compelled to discuss.


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#2 ImissAlot


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Posted 10 September 2018 - 08:55 PM

I appreciate all the notes, Rick!
"Well, I love her... but I love to fish."

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