Q: Why does CDFW celebrate cultural heritage months like Native American Heritage Month in November and Black History Month in February?
A: There are two main reasons why the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) celebrates cultural heritage months: 1) We want to celebrate, identify and understand the cultural needs of the diverse group of Californians we serve. Along those lines, we want people of all cultural backgrounds to feel welcome when they interact with CDFW. 2) We want people of different backgrounds who work for CDFW, or who want to work for CDFW, to feel like they belong. We want our workforce to reflect California’s diversity, and it helps us accomplish that goal when we understand the state’s diverse cultural perspectives.
CDFW believes that the most equitable way of providing services to the public is identifying and understanding people’s needs, and then providing services based on those needs. For example, there are differences in the way that groups of Californians prefer to recreate and experience nature. Some cultures may gravitate toward hiking, while others may tend to prefer bird watching or fishing. As a department, we want to embed equity into our work and make California’s natural resources available to everyone. To accomplish that goal, we strive to consider all perspectives when working on projects that involve or impact recreation.
Celebrating diverse perspectives also helps CDFW develop policy. By sharing diverse perspectives and celebrating how different cultures experience nature, we put ourselves in a better position to shape policies that are reflective of those experiences and needs.
CDFW’s celebration of cultural heritage months is about understanding differences so we can be respectful of one another and honor each other’s perspectives. We choose to recognize and honor differences in perspective as a reminder that our shared values include CDFW’s mission to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and their use and enjoyment by the public.
Q: Does the Sonoran Desert toad exist anywhere in California?
A: The Sonoran Desert toad is considered extirpated from California, and its former range in the state occurred along the Colorado River. They do not occur in the wild anywhere in California as far as we know. They would be illegal to possess in California without a Scientific Collecting Permit.
If you have a question you would like to see answered in the California Outdoors Q and A column, email it to CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.