Conservation in California

Ducks Unlimited has implemented more than 1,300 conservation projects conserving over 638,000 acres of wetlands and associated uplands in California alone. Below are just a few examples of key projects from around the state.

Prior to the Gold Rush, an estimated 4-5 million acres of wetlands were present in California. Now, more than 95% of the historic wetlands and over 90% of the riparian corridors have been destroyed or grossly modified. These wetlands once hosted one the largest concentrations of wintering waterfowl in the world. Now, waterfowl numbers have declined almost in-step with a human population that has surpassed 34 million. Ducks Unlimited is also investing in habitat in regions, such as the Boreal Forest and Prairie Potholes, where the vast majority of California's wintering ducks are produced.


In some years, 60% of the entire Pacific Flyway and up to 20% of North America's waterfowl population winters or migrates throughout California. Nowhere else in the world do so many waterfowl winter on such a small wetland base. Ducks Unlimited has recognized the combined Central Valley and San Francisco Bay area as one of five highest habitat priorities in North America.


California also has other regions that are important to waterfowl. Northeast California's Great Basin habitats stage massive flocks of snow geese and pintails during their spring migration. The Sonoran Desert's Salton Sea and lower Colorado River region winters large numbers of waterfowl and play an important role in supporting Pacific Flyway ducks and geese.