Ducks Unlimited and partners recently completed wetland enhancement work on Fields 47 and 48 at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Northern California, continuing DU’s longstanding partnership with one of the most popular public wildlife areas on the West Coast.
Prior to wetland enhancement work, these fields lacked proper water drainage and flood-up capabilities. Substantial high and low ground in the wetlands and undersized and degraded water control structures limited water management capabilities. Under these conditions, dense stands of cattails and tules dominated the wetlands and greatly reduced habitat quality in the wetlands.
Ducks Unlimited managed to remove high and low areas in the wetlands, remove degraded water control structures and install new larger structures, excavate an interconnected series and swales and potholes, and construct islands. This project provided the capabilities necessary to manage the wetlands to provide high quality habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl and to provide quick flood-up and drain capabilities to minimize mosquito abatement issues. Funding was provided by a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant.
Gray Lodge is one of the most important wetland areas not only in California’s Central Valley, but also in the entire Pacific Flyway, providing vital wintering habitat for up to one million ducks and more than 100,000 geese. The 9,100-acre wildlife area is considered one of the jewels of the Pacific Flyway thanks to its reflective ponds, grassy fields and wooded riparian areas that provide food and habitat for more than 300 species birds and mammals.