Rice farmers & duck hunters work with Ducks Unlimited & USFWS for ‘world class habitat’

Credit: California Department of Water Resources

Author John Heil penned a great piece for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s website chronicling the symbiotic relationship rice farmers and duck hunters have with Ducks Unlimited and the USFWS when it comes to creating waterfowl and wildlife habitat in California’s Sacramento Valley.

That other cog is the private duck-hunting community. With the assistance of the Service and Ducks Unlimited, hunters create “better habitat, which leads to better hunting,” Byers said. They also benefit from the rice fields that encourage more birds to stay in the area.

According to Hiel, rice farmers manage 500,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley. Another 75,000 acres are managed wetlands, including nearly 18,700 acres of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex and 31,000 acres of conservation easements primarily on land owned by duck hunters. Together, the rice farmers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the duck hunters, provide year-round food and habitat for 6 million waterfowl and hundreds of thousands of other water birds and wetland wildlife.

Ducks Unlimited and the Service provide engineering and biological expertise to get the most “bang for the buck,” as Preston described it.

Requests for assistance are flowing in to Ducks Unlimited from other Willow Creek landowners.

“It takes a landowner who is bold enough to implement restoration projects,” said Virginia Getz, manager for the conservation programs with Ducks Unlimited. “It is scary at first having to turn your duck club upside down and then build it back up. That part is intimidating. We are finding more and more people receptive to it – asking when we will get to their area.”

“We co-exist so much better with the rice farmers now,” Iseman said. “It is more like one big happy family now, instead of the duck guys versus the rice guys vying for the same limited water resource. If you don’t learn what the problems are, what’s important to a group, you cannot make it work.”

To read the full piece, click here.