Distribution of wildlife is determined by the distribution and variety of vegetative communities, water, and available food. Urban growth within the District has put pressure on remaining areas suitable for wildlife. Direct loss of habitat, the diversion of streams for municipal water supplies, increased effluent discharge, and intensified recreational use of open space has adverse impacts on wildlife populations.
Here are some of the ways the RCRCD works to protect native species:
- Provide BMP information and assistance to land users to assist with habitat management.
- Promote exotic, invasive species control and removal from landscaping.
- Propagate and release Southern California native fish, aquatic reptiles, and amphibians, as funding becomes available.
- Develop the “Greenbelt” research facility with fish raceways plus indoor/ outdoor tank storage for quarantine, and short term fish and amphibian care
- Create appropriate habitats at RCRCD facilities to support native wildlife.
- Install nest boxes and watering facilities in RCRCD habitat areas as needed.
- Install wildlife cameras at RCRCD facilities, corridor crossings and select nest boxes to monitor local wildlife.
The RCRCD conducts a variety of restoration and research projects in an effort to increase fish and amphibian populations in their native ranges, mainly in the Santa Ana River Watershed. Native fish and amphibian species are impacted by loss or degradation of stream habitat, water pollution, drought, non-native fish and aquatic animals, flood control structures, water diversions, sand and gravel mining, and changes in the watershed that result in erosion, sediment, and debris flows.
In an effort to help reduce impacts to important aquatic and riparian environments, the District has a permitted and specialized aquatic program that is able to:
• restore aquatic habitats
• transport and translocate native fish and amphibians
• capture, propagate, and monitor native fish in local waterways
• conduct research
• remove non-native exotic species (red-eared sliders, bullfrogs, clawed frogs, bass, etc.).
The RCRCD also provides emergency watershed rescue of fish and amphibians, such as after fire. For removal of non-native species, the District is equipped with watercraft, seins, and electro-shock tools and works in cooperation with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and US Fish and Wildlife Service. The District also has permits with both the USFWS and CDFW for the monitoring and management of fish populations and habitats.
Augmentation of native fish populations is conducted through the Upper Santa Ana River Habitat Conservation Plan and agreements with local water districts, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
Multi Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP)
The Western Riverside County Multi Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) is a unified plan that guides development and provides for economic growth while protecting local habitats for native plants and animals. In the 1980s-1990s a growing number of endangered species was slowing urbanization. Through a lengthy stakeholder process and environmental evaluation, a comprehensive approach was developed to protect our unique landscapes and wildlife while expediting development. The Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) was created to steward the Plan, or MSHCP. The RCRCD was part of the process that developed the plan, and the monitoring biologists for the MSHCP are housed in building C at the RCD’s headquarters: the Resource Conservation Center. The RCRCD conducts habitat conservation projects that support and complement the Plan.