New California DU Project - Circle 6 Ranch

Circle 6 Ranch is a 300-acre private duck hunting club located on the eastern edge of the Butte Sink protected through a conservation easement held by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The property consists primarily of seasonal wetlands that are managed to provide habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl and other waterbirds, and waterfowl hunting opportunities. Circle 6 Ranch retains water in some wetlands through late spring and early summer to provide brood-rearing habitat for waterfowl in accordance with a management agreement with the California Department of Fish and Game.

Circle 6 Ranch was converted from natural habitat to rice fields many years ago. During 1987, the area currently in Ponds 1-6 was restored to wetlands and enrolled in a permanent conservation easement held by FWS. The area has been used for waterfowl hunting and managed primarily to provide waterfowl habitat since that time. The property's wetlands are managed primarily to provide feeding and resting habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl and other waterbirds. Standard wetland management activities that are conducted on the property include mowing, discing, buming, and spraying to control undesirable vegetation and promote more desirable vegetation; irrigating in the summer and early fall to promote vigorous vegetation growth and seed production from desirable waterfowl food plants; and planting additional wetland trees and shrubs.

This project will enhance 220 acres of wetlands. Work will include DU conducting a topographic survey and preparing an engineering design for habitat improvement. Improvement work includes replacing two dysfunctional low-lift pumps and a degraded section of pipeline, constructing two small berms to form water distribution basins, improving water conveyance ditches, regrading existing swales and constructing new swales, recontouring a high area, and removing degraded water control structures and installing new water control structures to improve water supply and distribution and provide proper water and vegetation management capabilities to the wetlands in Ponds 1-6.

The wetlands in Ponds 1-6 are below their potential to provide high quality habitat and will be improved by the current project. Circle 6 Ranch provides important habitat in California ’s Sacramento Valley for a variety of wildlife, including mallard, gadwall, northern pintail, and green-winged teal. Other birds that will benefit include black-necked stilt, greater yellowlegs, and great egret. This project will also benefit several special-status species including greater sandhill crane, white-faced ibis, and American bittern