Kern NWR, Unit 1: Wetland Enhancements

Kern National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most heavily hunted federal refuges in California. In 2005, Ducks Unlimited improved not only habitat conditions in Kern's Unit 1, but hunter access as well. Management of Unit 1 is complicated and is mandated to provide nesting habitat for tri-colored blackbirds (e.g., dense cattail marsh). Now, through innovative DU engineering, Unit 1 can provide habitat for both blackbirds and waterfowl.

Unit 1 levee area before... ... after UML construction.  Unit 1a on left, Unit 1b on right...

... hunter access straight ahead.

The project was funded in part by a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant to improve habitat at Kern NWR and other Tulare Basin wetlands. The Unit 1 project included constructing a cutting edge Underwater Management Levee (UML) that will maintain half of Unit 1 as a semi-permanent marsh and allow the other half to dry naturally during the summer then provide optimal habitat for wintering waterfowl. During full flood-up in the fall and winter, the UML will be covered by 6-10 inches of water and create shallow areas for waterfowl, maintain wetland continuity, and provide excellent hunter access.

The Unit 1 project is closely tied to other DU project on Unit 2 as it receive water from Unit 1. Ducks Unlimited's work throughout the Refuge has vastly improved water and habitat management on a good chunk of Kern National Wildlife Refuge, and help open up new areas to waterfowl hunting.