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Trout Lake at Shasta Valley Wildlife Area this spring.

Ryan Sabalow, DU

With waterfowl season about to kick off in California, hunters in the northeastern corner of the state will again face limited opportunities due to lack of water at popular public hunting areas.

But there is good news. State and federal officials say Modoc National Wildlife Refuge and Butte Valley, Ash Creek and Honey Lake wildlife areas have enough flooded habitat to offer hunting for the Sept. 23-24 Northeastern California junior hunt weekend.

Willow Creek Wildlife Area won't be open for the the youth-hunt weekend.

Hunting at those properties also will proceed normally for the general season, though some wildlife areas will have limited wetland habitat due to water shortages.

The Northeastern California general waterfowl season starts Oct. 7, three weekends before the rest of the state opens to waterfowl hunting.

Elsewhere in Northeastern California, thousands of acres of public lands in the Klamath Basin will be closed to waterfowl hunting, due to limited flooded habitat.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced, for the second year in a row, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge will be closed to waterfowl and pheasant hunting for the upcoming season. But this season, dry-field waterfowl and pheasant hunting will be allowed on the adjacent Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Shasta Valley Wildlife Area will be closed to waterfowl hunting in wetland units for the third season in a row, though hunting for waterfowl will be allowed this year in dry fields. Hunting for dove, quail, snipe and pheasant will continue to be allowed in Shasta Valley.

Shasta Valley, Lower Klamath and Tule Lake have limited water

The story for those properties is the same: Limited water. The Klamath Basin didn’t receive the same levels of record-breaking rain and snow that pulled the rest of California out of its years-long drought. Hunters will find ample opportunities and much improved habitat conditions elsewhere in the state this waterfowl season.

Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges along the California-Oregon border have received barely any water for the past three years. The refuges are the last in line to receive water in a complicated federal management system that for years has struggled to balance the needs of endangered fish, Klamath Basin agriculture and the two refuges. As a result, almost all the wetlands on the nearly 90,000-acres of the refuges have gone dry. When they have water, Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Refuges average more than 170,000 visitors, many of them hunters, each year.

To the west, Shasta Valley, which receives water from the Little Shasta River, also has received limited water due to similar challenges. Steamboat and Bass lakes on the wildlife area east of Yreka in Siskiyou County have gone dry. Trout Lake in Shasta Valley is the only reservoir on the 4,700-acre wildlife area left with water, and it’s only about half full.

“Though unfortunate, Ducks Unlimited understands the decision to restrict or close public lands to waterfowl hunting, given the limited wetlands available for birds,” said Jeff McCreary, director of Ducks Unlimited’s Western Region. “DU is committed to helping the managers of our federal and state public lands in Northeastern California make the most of their increasingly unreliable water supplies. In the Klamath Basin, Ducks Unlimited continues to work with regulators, tribes, farmers and refuge and wildlife area staff to find common ground centered around wetlands.”

What Ducks Unlimited is doing in Northeastern California

Ducks Unlimited has a long history of partnering with landowners and others in Northeastern California to improve and restore wetlands.

Below are some recent projects Ducks Unlimited has completed on Northeastern California public lands the past few years to benefit waterfowl and improve opportunities for hunters.

  • Ash Creek: DU converted a diesel pump station to electrical power to improve efficiency and reduce labor and maintenance costs in providing water to 670 acres.
  • Honey Lake: DU rehabilitated a well and replaced dilapidated water control structures, improving water delivery to 1,533 acres.
  • Willow Creek: DU replaced seven water-control structures that will improve irrigation to 878 acres of wet meadow habitat.
  • Shasta Valley: DU constructed a pump station and pipeline to increase pumping capacity into Steamboat Lake. DU built a pump station at Trout Lake to provide an alternative source to fill wetland units. This year, DU replaced the outlet structure on Bass Lake’s dam and improved the levee at Pond 21A. In total, the projects will benefit 1,110 acres.
  • Modoc: DU constructed a pipeline and a pump station to improve the ability to move water throughout the 7,000-acre refuge.
  • Lower Klamath and Tule Lake: This spring, Unit 2 on Lower Klamath received water thanks to a pumping station DU recently installed and the efforts of California Waterfowl Association, the Klamath Drainage District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make irrigation return water available. DU is installing four more pumps, two on Lower Klamath and two on Tule Lake.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing wetland and grassland habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has restored or protected more than 16 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science, DU’s projects benefit waterfowl, wildlife and people in all 50 states. DU is growing its mission through a historic $3 billion Conservation For A Continent capital campaign. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Ryan Sabalow, Western Region - Communications Coordinator
(916) 805-1210