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BAY-DELTA FWO: New Office Observes First Year of Managing Pressing Conservation Issues in Northern California's Bay-Delta
California-Nevada Offices , March 9, 2010
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Union Island in California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. (photo: Heather Webb USFWS)
Union Island in California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. (photo: Heather Webb USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Steve Martarano, Bay Delta FWO
SACRAMENTO – Early in 2009, Pacific Southwest Region Director Ren Lohoefener formalized the roles and responsibilities of a new Bay-Delta Fish and Wildlife Office (BDFWO), to be located in downtown Sacramento among all of the Service’s other partners in the Delta.

The idea of a field office focused exclusively on Bay-Delta issues had been under consideration for years. The recent convergence of issues: a three-year drought, the decline of several Delta species and public controversy over recent pumping restrictions due to two biological opinions, made Delta conservation a high priority within the Department of the Interior and prompted establishment of the Bay-Delta Fish and Wildlife Office.

One year later, the BDFWO is up and running at breakneck speed, nearly three-quarters of the way to its full staffing goal, and briskly moving to keep up with the flood of key concerns hitting the office on a daily basis.

“The Regional Director has identified the immediate and future need for a new Bay-Delta Fish and Wildlife Office that focuses on regulatory and habitat restoration efforts envisioned by State and Federal agencies in an effort to ensure a reliable water supply and protect the environment in the Bay-Delta,” Lohoefener said, in part, when formalizing the BDFWO.  “The Office will be responsible for all fish and wildlife resource issues within the Sacramento – San Joaquin Bay Delta area, including in endangered species, water operations, habitat and species conservation.”

A memo establishing the new office was issued in March 2009, and the organization formed officially on July 1, 2009.  Personnel began moving into offices in downtown Sacramento in October, just a few blocks from the State Capitol. The staff of 25, whose numbers seem to grow every day, have stayed busy dealing with the conservation issues related to the increasingly vital Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, which was the focus of a CBS 60 Minutes segment last December.


“We face a future of many challenges – population growth, climate change – and it’s vital we work with our partners to plan actions that will both promote conservation of natural resources and provide water for people.” said Lohoefener.  “Creating the Bay-Delta Fish and Wildlife Office co-locates the Service with other federal and state agencies to help solve the crucial issues facing Californians in the rapidly evolving Delta region.”


The office, located at 650 Capitol Mall in Sacramento’s old main federal building, shares space with CalFed and NOAA – two agencies heavily involved in Delta issues. The office is also just blocks away from other Delta partners, namely California’s Natural Resources Agency and Departments of Fish and Game and Water Resources.


The BDFWO staff’s immediate mission is to strengthen the Service’s collaboration in the multi-agency Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which will guide actions needed to reduce risks to species such as delta smelt and salmon, and provide for improved reliability of water supply and delivery. Staff will work with key partners CalFed and the National Marine Fisheries Service as a first step in implementing the recent multi-agency MOU signed by the Secretary of the Interior (California Bay-Delta Memorandum of Understanding Among Federal Agencies).

The MOU is available at: http://www.doi.gov/documents/BayDeltaMOUSigned.pdf


Other issues currently facing the new office include implementing the December 2008 biological opinion on the Long-Term Operational Criteria and Plan for the state's two main water projects.

Leading the new office is Dan Castleberry, former Fisheries Program Manager for the Pacific Southwest Region. Castleberry brings extensive experience working with Central Valley and Delta water issues to his new position as Field Supervisor for the BDFWO. The Service envisions Castleberry’s office to be staffed by about 35 Service employees.


Other BDFWO staff includes: Mary Grim, Deputy Field Supervisor; Mike Hoover, Assistant Field Supervisor; Roger Guinee, Assistant Field Supervisor; Jennifer Norris, Assistant Field Supervisor; Steve Martarano, Public Affairs Specialist; Barbara Beggs, NEPA Biologist; Brian Hansen, Section 7 Biologist; Colin Grant, Listing Biologist; Heather Webb, Section 10 Biologist; Lori Rinek, Section 10 Biologist; Victoria Poage, Delta Native Fishes Recovery Biologist; Craig Anderson, Hydrologist/Biologist; April Burnett, Administrative Officer; Catherine Thomas, Office Assistant; Becky Pennell, Office Assistant; Dan Cox, Fish & Wildlife Biologist; Derek Hilts, Hydrologist; Leigh Bartoo, Fish & Wildlife Biologist; Nick Hindman, Fish Biologist; Erin Gleason, Fish Biologist; and Steve Culberson, Natural Resource Planner.

Dan Castleberry, Mary, Roger, Jennifer, Derek, Dan Cox, Leigh, and Nick were formerly with the Pacific Southwest Regional Office. Mike, Steve Martarano, Brian, Lori and Victoria were with the Sacramento FWO and Heather was with the Stockton FWO. Barbara was with the Region 6, Colorado Fish and Wildlife Management Assistance Office, Colin with the Bureau of Land Management in Needles, Craig was with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Sacramento, Steve Culberson was with the CalFed Science Program, Erin came over from Califonrina Dept. of Fish and Game’s Stockton office; Becky last worked at the Department of the Air Force - Office of Special Investigations; Catherine came from Region 3 Fisheries Program office at Ft. Snelling, (Minneapolis) Minnesota;  and April was with Veterans Affairs in San Francisco.

 

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Contact Info: Steve Martarano, 916-930-5643, steve_martarano@fws.gov



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