Ducks Unlimited, Inc. (DU) was recently awarded a $1 Million grant through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA)
to restore and enhance wetlands in the Northern Tulare and San Joaquin Basins of California's Central Valley.
This grant, titled Northern Tulare/San Joaquin Basins 5 represents the fifth and final phase of a multi-phase initiative to restore, enhance, and protect critical wetland and associated habitats
in the region. Wetlands of the Central Valley are significant waterfowl wintering areas supporting 60 percent of the waterfowl utilizing the Pacific Flyway
and 20 percent of all North American waterfowl, representing the single largest concentration of wintering waterfowl in North America. The 180,000 acre Grassland Ecological Area (GEA), located in Merced County of the western San Joaquin Valley, constitutes the largest contiguous wetland left in California.
"Although only a mere five percent of the historical habitat remains, this habitat still supports large concentrations of waterfowl and waterbirds, and the grasslands is renowned for its wintering wetland bird populations which reach over a million birds every winter," says Derek Mynear, DU biologist and project manager. "For this reason, most wetlands in California are currently managed as over-wintering moist soil habitat for waterfowl."
This project was developed in coordination with the Central Valley Joint Venture and furthers its implementation plan objectives. A key component of these objectives includes habitat programs that are needed to support and sustain healthy levels of waterfowl in the Central Valley. "In assuring that the energetic requirements of the birds are met, we can send them back up north in early spring healthy and happy, and with a better chance of a successful nesting season," added Mynear.
Federal grant funds for these projects were leveraged by more than $1.6 million in non-Federal funds provided by California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Wildlife Conservation Board, Grassland Water District, Turlock Cattle Company, Bowles Farming, Ramacciotti Duck Club and Ducks Unlimited. Wetlands and associated habitats totaling 5,842 acres will benefit from project activities on both public and private lands within the proposal area. Three of the sites are under private ownership and will be managed to provide optimal seasonal wetlands for wintering and migrating waterfowl. The other sites are located on state managed wildlife areas and include the North Grasslands Wildlife Area (WA), Volta WA, and Mendota WA which is located in the northern Tulare basin. These sites offer year-round public use opportunities and waterfowl hunting during the fall and winter months. The Grassland Water District project includes replacing a major water delivery structure that delivers water to thousands of acres of wetlands in the north grasslands, affecting both private and public lands.
Partnerships that leverage conservation dollars and allow for the continued preservation and protection of these habitats in this region is critical to the long-term sustainability of this resource. Ducks Unlimited has been actively pursuing and delivering wetland conservation projects in the Grasslands for nearly 30 years, and remains committed to continuing partnerships that further our habitat mission.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved nearly 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/DucksUnlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/DucksUnlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/DucksUnlimitedInc.