Posted by: Courtney Sexton, Defenders

The Defenders team in California is often on the ground in the local communities working on hands-on projects that engage community members in conservation activities. This is a great way to show people how the policies we strive to implement on the legal level are directly connected to real wildlife issues. Below, two partners of Defenders write about their experiences helping out with some of our popular grassroots projects in California.

In 2008, Defender Jeremy Terhune helped found the Friends of the Lower Calaveras River (FLCR) project. Defenders now supports Jeremy in his work to build support for wildlands, wildlife and river conservation in the Central Valley as an organizer based in Stockton, CA. Jeremy focuses on building constituency support for the San Joaquin River Restoration Project and participating in the San Joaquin River Partnership, as well as continuing his work to protect the Lower Calaveras River and educating under-served communities and children in the planning, design and use of river restoration projects in the San Joaquin Valley.

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By: Kim Delfino, Defenders of Wildlife

It’s almost February, and on the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex, things are getting interesting.  The great Pacific Flyway migration is winding down — up to a million waterfowl have visited the refuge, including Ross’ geese, Aleutian cackling geese, snow geese, green-winged teal, mallard and American widgeon.  The Tule Elk bulls are getting ready to shed their antlers, and the showy wildflowers that ring the unique endangered vernal pool wetlands are about to bloom.  Vernal pools are seasonal, temporary pools of water in grasslands that provide habitat for more than 40 different kinds of species.  As the water evaporates in these pools, different kinds of flowers bloom in concentric rings around them – it’s quite a show! Amid all of this natural hullabaloo is another kind of hubbub – a debate over whether or not the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge, part of the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex, should be expanded into San Joaquin County.

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Read about Stockton Steelhead Festival on Defenders of Wildlife Blog:

(San Francisco–December 15, 2010) The long-awaited BDCP transition documents from federal and California state agencies to rescue species from the brink of extinction and improve water management in California’s endangered San Francisco Bay-Delta was released today. Four leading conservation groups found the transition documents to be deeply flawed, incomplete, and disappointing.

“There is too much at stake in the future of California’s water supply and the health of the largest estuary on the West Coast to ignore the major scientific and analytic gaps in this plan,” said Ann Hayden, a senior water resource analyst at Environmental Defense Fund and member of the BDCP Steering Committee. “We and many others from different perspectives have invested too many years at the table trying to make this plan work to settle for a draft that lacks fundamental environmental safeguards and so much more.”

“This plan is not ready for primetime,” said Gary Bobker, Program Director at the Bay Institute. “Whether it’s the quality of the analysis, or paying attention to the best available scientific information, or facing up to some hard policy choices about the future, the plan simply does not pass the laugh test.”

Four years in the making, the draft calls for changes in Delta pumping and infrastructure that would increase the amount of water diverted from the already water-deprived Bay-Delta ecosystem. It contradicts the State’s own finding – expressed in the State Water Resources Control Board flow determinations in August 2010 – that there is overwhelming scientific evidence that the health of the Bay-Delta’s endangered species and habitats require more freshwater flow to San Francisco Bay. It also contradicts the State’s own policy – expressed in a package of water reform legislation signed in Nov. 2009 – that water users should cut their dependence on the Bay-Delta and secure alternative water supply sources. (more…)

For Immediate Release

Contact(s) Jeremy Terhune, Defenders of Wildlife, (209) 922-8215


STOCKTON, Calif. (Nov. 26, 2009) – Friends of the Lower Calaveras River (FLCR) invites the public to explore wildlife along the banks of the Calaveras River on a free guided tour by Audubon bird expert Dave Wagner on Dec. 5, 2009.

Wagner, a member of the San Joaquin Audubon Society, will lead the hour-long walking tour from Pacific Bridge to the Pershing Ave. Bridge – highlighting the birds that live along this stretch of the Calaveras River, which is Spanish for river of skulls.

“We are energized by the potential of these river walks,” said James Marsh, an FLCR member, who is helping to setup the event. “As a result of gathering a few thoughts to share during this first walk, I was inspired to begin collecting and reading some books and materials relating not only to the history of the Calaveras River, but to the history of conservation efforts in our region in general.”

Jeremy Terhune with the Defenders of Wildlife said: “An important part of FLCR’s mission to increase public awareness about the important, but long neglected, waterway that runs through our community.”

“Our hope is that these monthly river walks will help our community see the importance of protecting the Calaveras River,” he said. “Once people see how much wildlife depends on the river, I believe they’ll take a bigger role in keeping it clean.”

This is FLCR’s first river walk, and they expect to turn out a crowd of around of 25 people. .

The FLCR members will meet on the second floor deck of the DeRosa University Center at University of the Pacific, rain or shine, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, comfortable shoes and come prepared to walk for an hour along the Calaveras River on University of Pacific’s campus.  

Jeremy Terhune will be available to translate for Spanish speakers.



Friends of the Lower Calaveras River was formed in 2007 by some 30 concerned citizens, who were disturbed by the deteriorating conditions on the Calaveras. Today, FLCR boasts more than 230 members and 11 partners from local conservation organizations, county and federal agencies. FLCR’s mission is to advocate for the sustainable management of the resources and conditions of the Lower Calaveras River.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.  With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit