Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

San Joaquin Delta (Photo: USFWS)

Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program

The Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, whose roots can be traced back to the U.S. Commission on Fish and Fisheries, has played a vital role in conserving America's fisheries since 1871, and today is a key partner with States, Tribes, Federal agencies, other Service programs, and private interests in a larger effort to conserve fish and other aquatic resources.

The Program consists of almost 800 employees nationwide, with 70 National Fish Hatcheries, 9 Fish Health Centers, 7 Fish Technology Centers . These employees and facilities provide a network that is unique in its broad on-the-ground geographic coverage, its array of technical and managerial capabilities, and its ability to work across political boundaries and embrace a national perspective. The Program supports the only Federal hatchery system, with extensive experience culturing more than 100 different aquatic species.

The Pacific Southwest Regional Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation Program oversees water and fish issues throughout California, Nevada and the Klamath Basin, from the Klamath River to the Lower Colorado River, and from San Francisco Bay to Eastern Nevada . Within this area, the Program focuses on the conservation and restoration of aquatic ecosystems.

What we do

    The Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program works with partners to conserve and restore aquatic resources for the benefit of the American people. For more than 140 years, the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service has worked on the American landscape to address conservation challenges and protect, restore, and enhance the nation's fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats. Within California and Nevada, the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program is working to address the effects that habitat loss and degradation, overharvest, invasive species introduction, and climate change have had on aquatic species. The region's goals are to conserve aquatic species, protect and restore aquatic habitats, manage the impact of invasive species, and help the federal government meet its mitigation and trust responsibilities.

    Conserve Aquatic Resources

    The aquatic ecosystems in California and Nevada historically sustained unique and diverse communities of fish and other aquatic organisms, many of which, such as salmon, trout, suckers, and lamprey, are important economic and cultural resources. However, aquatic species represent some of the most imperiled organisms in our region. Currently, in California and Nevada, there are numerous aquatic species listed under the Endangered Species Act, with many others protected by state law or listed as species of concern in state wildlife action plans.

    The Service's goal is to achieve and maintain sustainable populations of aquatic species. That means the agency is working to recover species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, such as winter-run Chinook salmon, Lahontan cutthroat trout, and cui-ui. The program also works to restore declining populations of other species and to prevent the decline of otherwise healthy populations by restoring habitat, controlling invasive species, and monitoring aquatic species survival and mortality.

    (Photo courtesy of  FISH-BIO)Protect and Restore Habitat

    Today's water project operations are a necessary part of our life in the west. Projects such as California's Central Valley Project Improvement Act and Nevada's Newlands Project provide water essential for communities, industries, and agriculture. Unfortunately, habitat loss and degradation, primarily as a result of providing water for human uses, is one of the primary reasons for the decline of native species, along with invasive species and, increasingly, the impacts of climate change.

    Add in the issues of managing invasive species, non-point source pollution, and the effects of a changing climate, and the challenge of conserving aquatic habitat becomes increasingly complex.

    We assess habitats and the habitat needs of species to develop landscape level conservation objectives. To achieve those objectives, we work with partners through Service Programs such as the National Fish Passage Program and the National Fish Habitat Action Plan to prioritize and implement conservation projects. These projects span the array of habitat issues and include removing barriers to fish migration, restoring spawning gravels and rearing habitats, screening water diversions, and helping farmers develop best practices result in more water being left in streams and rivers.

    In addition, we are working with our partners within Landscape Conservation Cooperatives to make the latest conservation science and technological tools available to all those working to conserve aquatic habitat.

    Manage invasive species

    The rapid growth of industry and transportation in the 19th and 20th centuries has led to a dramatic increase in the presence of invasive species across the landscape.

    This is particularly true for aquatic systems in which invasive species threaten the conservation of fish and other species and cause billions of dollars in unwanted economic impact.

    We are working towards identifying high risk invasive species and their potential pathways for introduction and working with partners and industry to develop both regulatory and voluntary mechanisms to reduce the risk of introduction of invasive species. Where we have known populations of invasive species, we are developing and executing plans to contain the risk of spread, minimize their impact on native aquatic species and habitats, and, in some cases, eradicate invasive species populations.

    Fulfill Mitigation and Tribal Trust Responsibilities

    In our region, federal water projects have had a major impact to fish and other aquatic species. Where the federal government has a responsibility to mitigate for the effect of water project operations, the Service is helping other agencies fulfill their mitigation responsibilities. We produce millions of salmon and hundreds of thousands of steelhead to support commercial and recreational fisheries.

    We monitor fish populations in the Bay-Delta and Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers to help project operators minimize their impact on fish and other aquatic species. In California, Nevada, and southern Oregon, the federal government has trust responsibilities to help manage fish and fisheries for use by tribes. In northern California, we work with the Hoopa and Yurok tribes assess salmon populations and survey for disease in support of tribal fisheries.

    In Nevada, we are working with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to restore self-sustaining native fish to Pyramid Lake and the Truckee River. And, in the Klamath Basin of Oregon, we are working with the Klamath Tribes to investigate the decline and restore populations of native suckers.

restoration Initiatives

Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA)

The Project Implementation Division oversees the budget administration for all the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) programs that the Service implements in coordination with the Bureau of Reclamation. CVPIA focuses on the conservation and restoration of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Watersheds and Delta, and the Trinity River Watershed. Project Implementation Division links include:

Habitat Restoration Program
Refuge Water Supply and Conveyance Programs
Anadromous Fish Screen Program
Title 34, Public Law 102-575, Central Valley Project Improvement Act

Links to CVPIA Programs in Field Offices include:
Anadromous Fish Restoration Program
Comprehensive Assessment and Monitoring Program

Trinity River Restoration
-The Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office provides technical, planning and adminstrative assistance for the Trinity River Restoration Program.

Anadromous Fish Restoration
-Klamath River: Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office
-Central Valley: Red Bluff Fish and Wildlife Office, Stockton Fish and Wildlife Office
-Coastal streams: Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office

Non-native Invasive Species Program
-Technical assistance to limit the spread of aquatic invasives: Stockton Fish and Wildlife Office.