PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Colusa National Wildlife Refuge

Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are currently in the midst of a major project that will restore or enhance about 739 acres of habitat at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), which consists of about 5,077 acres and is located in California’s Sacramento Valley. The refuge provides vitally important habitat for Pacific Flyway waterfowl and supports more than 234,000 ducks and 133,000 geese during the winter—among the highest by any of the Sacramento Valley’s public wetland areas.

During 2013 and 2014, DU and USFWS completed the first two phases of work of the project, restoring lands to a mix of seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands and native uplands, with the final phase of restoration scheduled to take place during summer 2015. One of the areas, Tract 19, previously consisted of nearly 71 acres of wetlands divided into three small narrow units. To produce a large high-quality wetland habitat, the levees were removed, the area was recontoured and the small units were incorporated into Tract 27, which will be managed to provide important habitat for numerous waterfowl, shorebirds, waterbirds, and a diversity of other wildlife, including several wetland-dependent special-status species. The restored lands will also provide new public hunting opportunities.

Pools 1, 2, and 4 are part of Colusa NWR’s very popular spaced pond public hunting area and previously did not have proper water distribution and limited water and vegetation management capabilities. During 2013 and 2014, DU improved these units by recontouring selected areas, constructing swales and potholes, removing and constructing interior and exterior levees, constructing new water delivery canals, and installing water control structures. The work improved water distribution and water use efficiency, increased the quality of wetland habitat for waterfowl and a diversity of other species, and improved public hunting opportunities in the area.