Ducks Unlimited recently completed a wetland restoration project along the North Coast of California, improving habitat and providing other ecological benefits for waterfowl, the Eel River salmon fishery, and people. The Riverside Ranch Restoration Project is the first phase of the Salt River Ecosystem Restoration Project. This 400-acre property, now known as the Salt River Unit of the Eel River Wildlife Management Area, is owned by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Salt River Ecosystem Restoration Project is a comprehensive, voluntary, landowner-driven effort to restore watersheds throughout the 20-square-mile Salt River basin. The Salt River and Eel River delta is the fourth-largest estuary in California. This landmark project is managed by the Humboldt County Resource Conservation District with support from several partners. Ducks Unlimited collaborated closely with the conservation district to develop, fund, and implement this multiphase project, which has been in various planning stages for nearly 20 years.

This first phase of this project restored natural tidal flows to historical coastal marshes. These restored tidal wetlands will not only provide habitat for waterfowl and fish, but also alleviate spring flooding, improving the productivity of surrounding dairy pastures. In addition, this project will help reduce impacts from grazing Aleutian cackling geese on these pastures.

Ducks Unlimited worked hard over the past three years to bring this project to completion. DU's contributions included fundraising, project development, engineering design, and construction management. In October 2013, when this project was completed, the restored tidal marshes were soon inhabited by mallards, shorebirds, and egrets, signaling the beginning of a new era in the Salt River basin.