More than 100 California outdoor enthusiasts recently welcomed the newest addition to the North Grasslands Wildlife Area in a special dedication ceremony. Recently completed by Ducks Unlimited and its partners, the Widell/Ramacciotti Wetland Restoration on the wildlife area's Gadwall Unit provides important wetland and associated habitat in the Grasslands Ecological Area, the largest wetland complex in the state.

This Central Valley conservation opportunity was made possible by the late David L. Widell, former director of public policy for DU's Western Region and Grassland Water District general manager. A fierce wetland supporter, Widell worked fervently with Ramona Ramacciotti, the landowner and his friend, to ensure that the property would receive the same care and land-management stewardship that her family had provided.

"This project is really a great example of Dave and Ramona working together to find a solution for the property," DU Regional Biologist Chris Hildebrandt said during the dedication. "It wasn't producing as well as Ramona would have liked for agricultural purposes, yet she wanted to make sure the land would receive the same amount of respect her family had given it over the years. Dave convinced her that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife would be able to do that."

Funded by the California Wildlife Conservation Board, the Widell/Ramacciotti project restored 140 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands and associated habitat on the east side of the Gadwall Unit, which is part of the public hunt program. The unit encompasses more than 1,600 acres of wetlands and managed native uplands that provide year-round benefits to a wide array of resident wildlife and migratory bird species. It is also one of the most popular waterfowl hunting destinations in the Central Valley, consistently ranking high among public hunting areas for average bird harvest per hunter. The property will be managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.