Conservation Issues

Every fall, aspens put on a magnificent display in California’s Eastern Sierra. Photo by Steven T. Callan.

Golden Trout and Golden Trees

Every fall, aspens put on a magnificent display in California’s Eastern Sierra. Photo by Steven T. Callan.

Every fall, aspens put on a magnificent display in California’s Eastern Sierra. Photo by author.

The first time I experienced the awesome grandeur of California’s Eastern Sierra was in 1975, when, as a rookie Fish and Game warden, I drove there on assignment to work the Crowley Lake trout-season opener. That spring, the majestic mountains to the west were covered with snow, and the entire scene, from Mount Whitney to Mammoth Lakes, looked like something you’d see on a Christmas card. Over the years I’ve visited again and again, sometimes in the spring, sometimes in the summer, and sometimes in the fall.  Whatever the season,  the Eastern Sierra always offers an eye-popping display of color and natural beauty.

During the winter months, Kathy and I can count on seeing magnificent bald eagles at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. This mature female was about to swoop down on a flock of unsuspecting coots. Photo by Steven T. Callan.

Saving a Place for Wildlife

During the winter months, Kathy and I can count on seeing magnificent bald eagles at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. This mature female was about to swoop down on a flock of unsuspecting coots. Photo by Steven T. Callan.

During the winter months, Kathy and I can count on seeing magnificent bald eagles at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. This mature female was about to swoop down on a flock of unsuspecting coots. Photo by author.

Late in November 1959, I was an eleven-year-old boy riding in the back seat of our family car as my father drove us north of Sacramento for the first time. I remember looking out the window and marveling at flocks of flying waterfowl and a vast landscape of wetlands, rice fields, grain fields, and open space—all the way to what was to be our new home in the tiny farming community of Orland. Today, as I drive north from Sacramento, I see miles and miles of orchards where not so much as a blade of grass is allowed to grow.

Photo of Yosemite Falls

America Needs Parks Now More Than Ever

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park

Recently, my wife, Kathy, and I arrived in Sonora for our first Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) conference. We were a little apprehensive, being new kids on the block, but by the end of the first day, we felt a kinship with everyone in the room. And what a room it was−filled with authors, columnists, radio hosts, photographers, newspaper reporters, adventure guides, and media experts from all over the Golden State. The common thread that wove this gracious group of professionals together was a reverence for California’s vast natural resources and a desire to tell the world about them.

Yelloweye Rockfish

Saving Yelloweyes

Yelloweye Rockfish

Yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus). Photo by Retired Fish and Game Warden Larry Bruckenstein.

Imagine you’re fishing somewhere off the California coast and you hook into a big one. You finally hoist the monster to the deck and discover it’s nearly three feet long, brilliant red-orange in color, with bright yellow eyes the size of fifty cent pieces. Hard to imagine this fish could have been swimming around in the ocean when Roosevelt was president−not Franklin (1933-1945), but Teddy (1901-1909)! Yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) are known to live up to 118 years. Very slow growing, they don’t reach sexual maturity until they’re between ten and twenty years old.

Photo of Humpback Whale Feeding in Santa Barbara Channel

A Whale of a Tale

Photo of Humpback Whale Feeding in Santa Barbara ChannelOut of Ventura Harbor we sailed this past November, in pursuit of a long-held dream. My wife Kathy and I had been waiting for years to visit Santa Cruz Island, the largest of California’s Channel Islands and part of the five-island Channel Islands National Park. We spent the day hiking the island and learning about the indigenous plants and animals that inhabit this fascinating archipelago, just twenty miles from the mainland. Being scuba divers, we were especially impressed by the crystal clear waters that surrounded the island, beckoning us to return someday with our scuba gear and underwater camera.

Saving Our Precious Marine Resources

Big Sur Coastline, CaliforniaFor decades, there have been major concerns about the depletion of California’s marine resources.  In 1999, the Marine Life Protection Act was established, mandating that the California Fish and Game Commission designate marine protected areas where fish, habitat, and other priceless marine resources are allowed to recover. This statewide network was completed at the end of 2012, with 124 designated protected areas from the Oregon border to Mexico.  Specific regulations may exist for individual marine protected areas (MPAs), so contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife before fishing or conducting any type of outdoor activity in these areas.  Maps, GPS coordinates, and specific information are available.  To learn more, go to https://www.dfg.ca.gov/.