DU recognizes key partnership in California

(L to R) DU Chair of CPC Christine Thomas, Ric Ortega, DU Chief Conservation Officer Dr. Karen Waldrop, and DU Western Region Director Mark Biddlecomb

Ducks Unlimited recently presented Grassland Water District General Manager Ric Ortega with a special commemorative decoy for his long-time collaboration with DU conserving and protecting wetlands in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

“Conserving waterfowl habitat for future generations takes an extraordinary amount of teamwork from various organizations across the state, and Ric and the Grassland Water District have proven to be champions time and time again,” said Mark Biddlecomb, Ducks Unlimited’s director of operations for the Western Region. “We thank Ric and look forward to collaborating on future projects and issues that will continue to benefit the people, waterfowl and other wildlife of California.”

The Grassland Water District delivers water to the 75,000 acre Grassland Resource Conservation District including private, state and federal wildlife refuges. The district’s primary function is to protect, secure and deliver water to the critical wetland habitat within its boundaries. It also delivers water to state and federal wildlife refuges on the behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation and works closely with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Fish and Wildlife service to maximize food and habitat availability to meet the needs of the migratory birds utilizing the Pacific Flyway.

The Grassland Ecological Area, lying in the heart of California’s Central Valley, is a critical wintering area for numerous species of waterfowl and other migratory birds in the Pacific Flyway. It encompasses over 240,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitats, making it the largest remaining wetland complex in the Western United States. Land ownership within the Grasslands Ecological Area is as diverse as the species who winter, breed and visit there.