California Legislators, DU Address State's Drought

© Michael Furtman

California waterfowl are facing another long, hot summer in 2015 as the state's longstanding drought continues. The past three years have been the driest continuous period since 1850, as a persistent ridge of high-pressure along the West Coast has acted as a shield for Pacific storms, sending them north and leaving the state almost entirely without water.

The Golden State experienced the driest January on record this year, with Sacramento receiving only one one-hundreth of an inch of rain. This led Governor Jerry Brown to mandate statewide water restrictions in April, when he ordered California's water agencies to institute a 25 percent cutback.

To ensure that waterfowl interests are represented during this crisis, DU's Western Region staff is actively working not only in California, but also in other western states to combat drought effects. Ducks Unlimited was a key proponent of California's Proposition 1, which will release millions of dollars into the budgets of agencies working for conservation. DU is working closely with these agencies to make wetlands a priority.

DU staff and leading volunteers are also engaged in negotiations to craft a federal drought bill, and is providing policy guidance and legislative review for proposals related to water transfers, delta exports, and refuge management. And as always, DU is continuing to work throughout the West to improve infrastructure on wetland water supply and conveyance projects that augment or make more efficient use of available water. DU is currently involved in 230 such projects throughout California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.