At times it seems the money spent on special projects leaves you scratching your head. There has been a gigantic effort afoot to update the Atlas of Biodiversity of California. Although this is officially the second edition, it far surpasses the previous edition in readability. The science in the new edition can be taught in grade schools through post graduate students doing hard research.

Featuring articles by dozens of conservation experts, the second edition of Atlas of the Biodiversity of California is a treasure-trove of information about the state’s fish, wildlife, and plant resources. The 124-page book includes a collection of full-color maps, photographs and written accounts of California’s wildlife species and ecosystems.

The new version covers topics ranging from the state's remarkable geography to how we measure biodiversity, and examples of the complexity and uniqueness of many of California's treasured habitats. Expanded content on the marine environment, climate change and biodiversity conservation, among other topics, further enriches the story of California’s natural heritage and the forces that shape its future. To learn more about the atlas and California’s biodiversity, see the atlas online at You can download a copy of the Atlas in the link.

Charter/Party Boats, commercial passenger fishing vessels (CPFVs) are reporting limits of California halibut on their recent trips. The sport pacific halibut season opens May first for sport anglers.

If wild boar is on your menu/bucket list the time is now! The soil in the outback regions has been soft for some time, this means lots of fodder for wild piggies. The successful hunters posting pictures on the hunter web sites are showing big fat hogs. Some reports are saying it has been a spectacular year for wild boar growth, little piglets are staying near their mothers in large groups. There is lots of public land for hunting. Visit the BLM web site to get maps, directions, and regulations. One note of caution, road hunting and surprise attacks are common on private ranches, on public land, you will need to walk, a lot.

On the mushroom front the melting Sierra snowpack promotes mushroom growth. Choice edibles are the high-country Boletus Edulis and much loved Morcella Esculenta among others. If you have fire maps from last year, plan your morel hunt with burns as a focal point. Also slash piles from logging and any stressed areas, think tractor treads, great places to explore. A morel has a distinctive odor, funky in a good way. Read up on them on the web or visit for pictures and advice. 

If you are foraging for mushrooms, don’t forget to keep an eye peeled for a cool rock. The harsh winter has eroded streams and uncovered a new crop of rocks waiting to go home with you. Once you’ve decided on a general location visit for an unvarnished survey of what is available during your visit. The Nevada deserts are relatively untouched right now. The record rain fall has reset the surface hunting for rockhounds.

Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.

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