Ducks Unlimited recently completed Year 3 of restoration and enhancement projects at San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge in central California. Work within Nelson Lake, N. Vierra, S. Vierra, and Woolington wetlands conserved 293 acres of wetlands and 76 acres of uplands. These efforts complemented earlier efforts in 2016 and 2017 at White Lake, Pelican, Ringneck, and Page-Goose wetland complexes that conserved 726 acres of wetlands and associated uplands.
Recent project work included grading wetland basins to restore micro-topography, installation of a pipeline to provide surface water to managed moist-soil units, installation of water control structures to facilitate wetland management, and restoring native riparian and native grass species. These improvements will facilitate better water delivery, improve wetland management, and will assist refuge staff to manage floodplain units during and post flood events. These floodplain wetland complexes will provide increased habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, and salmonids.
Phase II of this project, which focuses on restoring hydrological connectivity between the San Joaquin River and its floodplain, is part of a $1 Million North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant Ducks Unlimited was recently awarded. Phase II will be surveyed, designed, and permitted in 2019 with construction in 2020. Named the Oxbow Project, this phase will restore 1,340 acres of riparian and emergent wetlands and will improve habitat for waterfowl and salmonids.