Ducks Unlimited has been invited by Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) management to partner in a multiphase, multi-million-dollar project to revitalize a portion of the 9,500-acre Tule Lake Marsh. In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tule Lake Irrigation District, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, DU will improve water-management capabilities to restore this nationally significant wetland and improve irrigation efficiency on leased agricultural lands on the refuge.

Once considered one of the finest waterfowl habitats and hunting areas in northern California, Tule Lake NWR traditionally supported large populations of nesting waterfowl and other birds and was a significant staging area for spring and fall waterfowl migrations. But Tule Lake Marsh, including what is known as Sump 1A, has seen a drastic decline in habitat quality and hunting opportunities in recent decades.

"A major reason for the habitat decline is that two species of endangered fish-Lost River and shortnose suckers-are found in the Tule Lake sumps. The Endangered Species Act mandates a near-constant water surface elevation for these sumps, but that kills naturally occurring vegetation," said DU regional biologist John Ranlett. "Without historically fluctuating water levels, natural habitat value has been greatly reduced. Our design will restore the marsh's natural wet and dry cycles, which will trigger the return of natural vegetation and habitat and help maintain endangered species numbers."

Design work on this project is already under way with initial construction work slated for 2014. The ultimate goal is to restore 4,000 to 5,000 acres of emergent marsh habitat.