Phase 1 of Yolo Bypass habitat and drainage project complete

DU, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and numerous partners completed Phase I of a large-scale restoration and enhancement project in California’s Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.

Hunters and wildlife enthusiasts who visited the wildlife probably noticed two new crossings over a large conveyance ditch known as the South Davis Drain. These large, modular bridges, known as CON/SPANS, and many other ditch, pump station and water-control structure improvements are the latest upgrades in the Yolo Wildlife Area.

“Increasing the capacity and flow rates in existing conveyance systems allows CDFW greater flexibility and efficiency in flooding seasonal wetlands and the critical drawdown period in late winter and early spring,” said CDFW Wildlife Area Manager Joe Hobbs. “The ability to move water efficiently across the landscape and reduce overland flooding, such as roads and uplands, makes wetland management easier and more productive.”

A new pump station south of the area’s check station will add 220 acres of new seasonal wetland in the Parker Units. Per the 2020 hunt map, half of these acres are in the closed zone and half are in the hunting zone. However, due to timing and the need for moist soil plant growth, the Parker Units should start producing waterfowl habitat for the 2022-23 waterfowl season.

This project utilized $3.5 million from six funding sources to restore 220 acres of managed seasonal wetland, improve water management to 1,290 acres of existing managed seasonal wetlands and 90 acres of semi-permanent wetland, and enhanced water management on 540 acres of wildlife-friendly rice.  

 “With the limited availability of water, every gallon is critical for wetlands,” Hobbs said. “Staff at the wildlife area do not have the expertise, time or experience to oversee projects of this magnitude. Without the project oversight of Ducks Unlimited these projects could not be completed.”

Grant applications and funding agreements are under review to complete Phase II, to enhance another 563 acres of wetland and 640 acres of rice. Project Partners include CDFW, Sacramento San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Board, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Yolo Basin Foundation, Yolo County, and Consero Solutions.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.