Grandma's Field is located along the northern border of Modoc National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), immediately adjacent to the Pit River and just southeast of Alturas. Modoc NWR, is managed primarily to provide habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. It provides critical nesting and fall and spring staging habitat for a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds. Modoc NWR supports thousands of Canada geese during the fall and winter and 10% of the entire breeding population of the greater sandhill crane, a state threatened species. The highest number of nesting greater sandhill cranes in California occur on Modoc NWR.
Before acquistion by the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and subsequent transfer to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to be incorporated in Modoc NWR, Grandma's Field had been used for production of grain crops and rice. During 2001-2003, DU and USFWS partnered together to conduct a topographic survey and prepare a preliminary engineering design for restoring the area. The design emphasized providing suitable breeding, foraging, and loafing habitat for the greater sandhill crane. The planned restoration work for the area was divided into two phases.
During 2003-2005, DU, DFG, and USFWS partnered together to complete Phase I of the Grandma's Field restoration work. Phase I work was concentrated in the southern portion of Grandma's Field and included recontouring some areas and constructing a meandering swale and low levees to distribute water, and installing water control structures to provide water and vegetation management capabilities. Phase I work restored 124 acres of shallow seasonal wetlands.
The southern portion of Grandma's Field has already received use from a diversity of waterfowl, shorebirds, and other waterbirds. Sandhill cranes, Canada geese, mallards, northern pintail, American avocets, black-necked stilts, and Wilson's phalaropes are among the many species that have been observed in the restored wetlands.
Phase II work at Grandma's Field is planned for 2005-2006 and will restore an additional 165 acres of seasonal wetlands.