Ducks Unlimited this week joined with the California Rice Commission, the Northern California Water Association, the National Resources Conservation Service and several local farmers and water district representatives for a press conference to educate the media and public on the toll the western drought is having on waterfowl in Northern California, as well as farmers and the economy.
With a backdrop of the Sacramento skyline juxtaposed against several fields of crops, DU Western Region Director Mark Biddlecomb spoke to the effects water cutbacks are creating for ducks and birds that depend on flooded rice fields in the winter for nutrition.
“When rice acreage is reduced, the 4 million to 6 million migratory birds that use those fields as a resting place during the winter become very crowded, which can lead to disease. The stress from the lack of food and habitat can also have major affects on the birds when they attempt to return north to the breeding grounds,” said Biddlecomb to a crowd of television and print reporters at Flying Air Service, an agricultural aerial applicator company that relies on farmers and could eventually see a decrease in business if fields are fallowed.
The story was picked up by several media outlets, including the LA Times.