Bridges installed in Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area improve wetlands management

Photo by Aaron Will

Construction crews installed two bridges in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Wildlife Area) on Aug. 5, part of a larger construction project taking place this summer to create new habitat, improve wetlands management and support wildlife-friendly agriculture.

A 350-ton hydraulic truck crane placed the precast concrete bridges, that replace narrow pipes regularly blocked by beavers and debris, improving drainage and water supply in the Wildlife Area. The bridges are part of a $4 million project scheduled for completion in October. More improvements are planned for the summer 2021, if additional funding is secured.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board are jointly funding the summer 2020 project. The Yolo County Board of Supervisors supported the improvements as part of the Board’s efforts to enhance the Yolo Bypass and support the Wildlife Area. The investments in infrastructure will:

•           Create 200 acres of new wetlands

•           Increase the productivity of existing wetlands

•           Improve management for rice fields

•           Reduce on-site flooding from the South Davis Drain

•           Improve access for the public and K-12 environmental education program

This project was funded by the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy in its first cycle of the Ecosystem Restoration and Water Quality (Proposition 1) Grant Program. The Wildlife Conservation Board recently approved a grant to fully fund this phase of the project.

“Parker Pond Unit improvements will restore 220 acres of land through the installation of a new low lift pump,” said Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist and project manager Aaron Will. “By increasing water supply and reliability, we can restore seasonal wetland habitat for waterfowl and other wetland dependent species.”

The project enjoys partnerships and contributions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Consero Solutions and the Yolo Basin Foundation. These groups worked together to apply for funding and secure needed permits, including donating staff time as necessary to accomplish milestones when funding was not available. The partners continue to seek additional improvements scheduled for construction in 2021.

Public access to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is not anticipated to be affected during construction. Check the Yolo Basin Foundation Facebook page to stay up to date on progress and any temporary road closures.

Watch a video udpate on the project, courtesy of Aaron Will, here: