Volunteers needed by DFG
The California Department of Fish and Game is now recruiting applicants for its Natural Resource Volunteer Program in the San Francisco Bay Area. The newly established Bay Area program will initially be accepting 30 volunteers.
Sonoma Valley has a lot of folks interested in the environment and protecting wildlife. This may be a great way to get involved.
Originally established in 2002 as a senior volunteer program in Southern California, the NRVP currently includes more than 100 volunteers of all ages in Orange County, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Redding. The NRVP trains volunteers to provide conservation and enforcement education to the public, along with providing critical biological, enforcement and administrative staff support to DFG. Volunteers assist with a variety of tasks such as responding to human-wildlife incident calls, instructing at NRVP academies, representing DFG at community education and outreach events, patrolling DFG lands, ecological reserves, coastal and inland fishing areas, and disseminating information to the public.
Volunteers have no law enforcement authority, but are trained to be educational ambassadors for the department and often play a vital role in assisting wardens and biologists with mission-critical work.
Last month alone, volunteers in the Sacramento area contributed 160 hours to assist DFG employees in rescuing sturgeon, salmon, steelhead and striped bass that were stranded by receding floodwaters in Yolo and Sutter counties.
Bay Area program applicants will go through a selection process which includes initial screening, an interview and a background check. Selected individuals will attend an 80-hour NRVP Conservation Academy beginning June 22, in Cotati, to prepare them for a monthly service commitment of at least 24 hours. After completing the academy, volunteers work with a trained volunteer mentor during a six-month probationary period.
Applicants should be teachable, accountable, have basic computer and writing skills, a desire to work in a team environment and a willingness to talk about conservation principles to the public in the field and in a classroom setting.
Further information and the application are available at www.dfg.ca.gov/volunteer/NRVP/. Applications should be sent to the DFG Bay Delta Region Office, 7329 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558 no later than May 27. Contact Lt. Josh Nicholas at 944-5562 with any questions.
And speaking of DFG, an abalone poacher and restaurant owner were recently convicted and fined for engaging in the illegal sale of sport-caught abalone. DFG and California State Parks worked together with the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office to investigate the case and aggressively prosecute the crimes.
In the fall of 2009, CSP rangers began to suspect abalone trafficking after making multiple contacts with diver Michael Sean Miller, 55, of Petaluma, in the area around Fisk Mill. Rangers relayed the information to DFG's Special Operations Unit, which began to investigate. Wardens soon observed Miller harvesting abalone and transporting them to the rear entrance of Pacific Restaurant, 1045 Terra Nova Blvd., in Pacifica. There, Miller was observed selling the illegally taken abalone to the restaurant's owner, Pim Lim Szeto, 51, of San Francisco. Wardens arrested both subjects for the illegal sale and purchase of abalone.
The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office prosecuted the case and Szeto was subsequently fined $20,000 and sentenced to 90 days work-release time.
His fishing license was revoked for life.
In May 2011, Miller pled guilty to poaching charges. He was fined $15,000 and sentenced to 90 days work release time with three years probation. He was also ordered to forfeit all dive gear and fishing equipment. His fishing license has been revoked for life and he is prohibited from possessing abalone.