A group of government agencies, NGO’s and private landowners gathered for a press conference at the scenic Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area located just outside Sacramento on Thursday to celebrate the fall arrival of waterfowl and, more importantly, tout the cooperative work accomplished in the Sacramento Valley that has provided thousands of acres of habitat for ducks and shorebirds.
With 90-95 percent of California’s wetlands gone, waterfowl traveling south from their breeding grounds in Alaska and Canada depend on the valley’s mosaic of state and federal refuges, flooded ricelands, private wetlands, and water districts to create surrogate habitat that will provide food and shelter for birds.
“DU has done a lot of restoration at this wildlife area and across the Central Valley,” said Ducks Unlimited’s Western Region Director of Operations, Mark Biddlecomb. “The reason being the Central Valley is the most important wintering grounds for waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway. Some are arriving as we speak and many are on their way. It takes a lot of wetlands and ricelands to make sure these birds can make their return trip to the northern breeding grounds. Partnerships are key—DU does a lot of restoration projects in California, but we never do it by ourselves. If there has been a silver lining to this drought, it’s that all of these groups now work together for the greater good of the birds.”
The press conference also featured speakers from U.S. Fish and Wildlife, California Fish and Wildlife, California Audubon, the Yolo Basin Foundation, Northern California Water Association, and local rice farmer Mike DeWit.
“Hunters are also a big key in this,” added Biddlecomb. “Hunters support Ducks Unlimited and the public areas we’re on today. Hunting fees, licensing fees, duck stamp money and other items contribute to the operation of these areas. Privately-managed wetlands, most of which are owned and maintained by hunters, also play a crucial role in providing habitat.”
- Partners in waterfowl conservation celebrate success of habitat creation.
- Birds and People flock to Yolo Wetlands.