PROJECT UPDATE: Willow Creek Ranch

DU is conducting a comprehensive assessment and upgrade of Willow Creek Mutual Water Company’s water conveyance infrastructure on Willow Creek Ranch (WCR).  This infrastructure provides water to about 7,050 acres of privately-owned wetlands and rice lands located immediately east of Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and immediately north of Delevan NWR in California’s Sacramento Valley.

The infrastructure on WCR has needed improvement for a long time and many of the wetlands are far below their potential to provide high-quality habitat.  Improving this water conveyance system is a multi-phase multi-million dollar effort.  WCR has more than 100 individual landowners and, therefore, the logistics and administration required to conduct work there are complex.

During summer 2015, DU conducted the third phase of water conveyance system improvements and wetland habitat enhancement on WCR.  This work enhanced 149 acres of wetlands and 103 acres of rice lands. Funding for this effort was provided by California Wildlife Conservation Board, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, DU, and three private landowners.

Existing levees and water conveyance canals were improved and new levees and water conveyance canals were constructed, dysfunctional interior levees were removed, a small section of pipeline was installed, selected areas were recontoured, new interconnected swales and potholes were constructed, and degraded water control structures were removed and new larger water control structures were installed to improve water conveyance, distribution, and water use efficiency and provide proper water and vegetation management capabilities to wetlands.  Islands were constructed to provide habitat diversity.  Major habitat enhancement work was conducted on three private wetlands; Pop’s Lake, Motherlode Duck Club, and Huba Huba Duck Club.