The Tulare Basin is the driest portion of the Central Valley, but with an estimated wetland acreage of more than 560,000, it once was the single largest block of wetland habitat in California. The basin used to be flooded by numerous streams and rivers and was thus able to support several expansive, shallow lakes, such as Tulare, Goose, Kern and Buena Vista Lakes. These lakes, essentially massive seasonal wetlands, provided habitat for millions of wintering and breeding waterfowl. Now, more than 99 percent of the historic acreage has vanished due to upstream water diversions and agricultural development.
Except in flood years, wetlands managers in the Tulare Basin are now almost entirely dependent on water deliveries from canals to maintain waterfowl habitat. Waterfowl are still naturally drawn to the Tulare Basin, and the remaining private and public wetlands are important to support these birds.
Ducks Unlimited's conservation programs in the Tulare Basin Region focus on improving habitat management infrastructure, restoring historic wetlands and securing long-term protection of water supplies for all waterfowl habitats.