Commission votes to allow temporary closures

On Wednesday, April 15 The California Fish and Game Commission unanimously approved an order to temporarily delay, suspend or restrict recreational fishing if the director of California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in consultation with the president of the commission, finds that such action is necessary to protect against the threat from COVID-19 based on state, federal, local and tribal public health guidance and public safety needs. No other action has been taken and officials will contact three counties on the east side of the Sierra for guidance. At this time no fisheries have been closed.

Last week Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growdon wrote the commission opposing the proposal.

Growdon wrote he feared “arbitrary state-wide or regional decisions related to angling activities. I believe these decisions can best be made at the county level and would ask that you not take the proposed action … There are thousands of miles of streams, rivers and shoreline in Lassen County that can be utilized by our residents while safely maintaining social distancing and other health standards.”

Growdon asked the commission to let Lassen County control its own local fisheries.

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The commission considered the matter during a remote April 15 meeting.

According to a statement from the commission, “The commission voted unanimously to grant that ability, temporarily, in order to prevent and mitigate public health risks that may arise when people travel or congregate for fishing events. This is designed to be responsive to local county level and tribal needs, like the requests CDFW and the commission received from Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties to delay the April 25 Eastern Sierra trout opener. The temporary authority expires May 31.”

“I understand Californians desperately need the outdoors for solace, reinvigoration and spirituality, especially so right now,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “The proposal was never about a statewide permanent closure. It is about being responsive to local needs in this public health emergency, where we must do all we can as Californians to help each other make it through this together. We intend to use this authority surgically and based on local needs and knowledge.”

“(California ) Governor (Gavin) Newsom recently said we expect a mid-May peak of COVID-19 and we must prepare for that surge,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “Today’s decision is a smart and responsible approach to be ready. It does not delay or restrict specific fisheries or waters, but rather prepares us to expeditiously do so if needed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

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Commission President Sklar, Commission Vice President Samantha Murray, and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, Russell Burns and Peter Silva participated in the call.

CDFW will now reach out to county and tribal governments in an effort to evaluate local concerns and associated health risks. If you have any questions or would like to provide input on potential angling related delays or restrictions, contact Roger Bloom, Acting Branch Chief, Fisheries Branch, by email at [email protected]

The commission will continue its remote meeting tomorrow by phone. The remaining agenda can be found at nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=177983&inline.

More information can also be found on the commission’s website.

The commission’s April 9 meeting had to be rescheduled until April 15 due to technical errors that failed to accommodate everyone who wanted to participate in the original meeting.S