Ducks Unlimited executive staff was on hand in October to witness the finish of a major construction phase at California’s Gray Lodge Wildlife Area north of Sacramento, even taking part in the initial release of water into several reconstructed ponds, helping transform several hundred acres of dry and dusty terrain into beautiful wetland habitat just in time for the opening day of duck hunting season.
Gray Lodge, which consists of 9,189 acres and is owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is one of the most important wetland areas in the Pacific Flyway, supporting up to one million ducks and 100,000 geese during the winter, as well as over 60,000 visitors per year. But water distribution and management capabilities within Fields 55, 56, 57, and 59 in the Northeast section of the Wildlife Area were limited and far below their potential to provide high-quality wildlife habitat. Project work designed by Ducks Unlimited and implemented by De Witt Bros and Co. Construction of Yuba City re-graded the entire ponds to improve the natural flow of water and increase water distribution, water use efficiency, water conveyance capabilities, and upland cover.
This work also integrated these four fields with the recently renovated conveyance and control system, which will allow the fields to benefit from the more efficient pumps and plumbing, making better use of limited water in a devastating drought. Work was completed on both open and closed hunting zones, and duck hunters should immediately see the benefits of the new wetlands, helping Gray Lodge become even more appealing to waterfowl.