The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is expanding its Lands Pass Program to 41 wildlife areas and ecological reserves this fall and winter and will soon require a CDFW lands pass of all visitors 16 or older. Those carrying a current hunting or fishing license are exempt from this new requirement.
CDFW’s Lands Pass Program began in 1988 as a way to broaden the funding base beyond hunters and anglers to pay for conservation and habitat improvement on some of the state’s most popular and frequently visited wildlife areas and ecological reserves. In 2013, the California Legislature directed CDFW to expand the program to more properties as a way for all visitors to contribute to the management of the places they enjoy and appreciate.
A daily lands pass costs $4.32 and an annual lands pass costs $24.33. Lands passes can be purchased online at ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales, by phone at (800) 565-1458 or in-person wherever hunting and fishing license are sold (please see wildlife.ca.gov/licensing for a list of locations). The passes are good at any CDFW-managed wildlife area or ecological reserve designated as a lands pass area. With the exception of the Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve, lands passes are not sold on site and should be purchased in advance. Though lands passes can be purchased from a smartphone and used immediately, many of CDFW’s wildlife areas and ecological reserves are in remote locations with limited or no cell service or Wi-Fi availability. Signs will be posted notifying visitors of the need for a lands pass.
A lands pass already is required to visit six CDFW properties:
- Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve in Monterey County
- Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Butte County
- Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Solano County
- Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County
- Los Banos Wildlife Area in Merced County
- San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County.
Beginning in November, a lands pass will be required to visit the following 11 properties:
- Ash Creek, Bass Hill, Honey Lake and Willow Creek wildlife areas in Lassen County
- Battle Creek Wildlife Area in Tehama County
- Butte Valley, Horseshoe Ranch and Shasta Valley wildlife areas in Siskiyou County
- Mouth of Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area in Shasta County
- Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area (Green Island Unit only) in Napa County
- Woodbridge Ecological Reserve in San Joaquin County (beginning Nov. 15)
Starting January 2018, a lands pass will be required at the following 23 properties:
- Batiquitos Lagoon, Boden Canyon, Buena Vista Lagoon and San Elijo Lagoon ecological reserves and Hollenbeck Canyon and San Felipe Valley wildlife areas in San Diego County
- Upper Newport Bay (Big Canyon Unit only) Ecological Reserve in Orange County
- Canebrake Ecological Reserve in Kern County
- Crescent City Marsh, Elk Creek Wetlands and Lake Earl wildlife areas in Del Norte County
- Eel River, Elk River Wetlands, Fay Slough and Mad River Slough wildlife areas in Humboldt County
- Hope Valley Wildlife Area in Alpine County
- Mendota Wildlife Area in Fresno County
- North Grasslands and Volta wildlife areas in Merced County
- North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Butte County and the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area in Butte and Glenn counties
- Tehama Wildlife Area in Tehama County
- Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in Yolo County
Starting February 2018, a lands pass will be required at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Orange County.
For more information on CDFW’s Lands Pass program, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/lands-pass.