California Ricelands Waterbird Foundation
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The Central Valley of California is a key stop over and winter location along the Pacific Flyway, which extends from Alaska and the Arctic down to Patagonia. Millions of ducks, geese, shorebirds, wading birds, and cranes use this migratory corridor to move between their summer and winter ranges. The Central Valley supports 30 percent of the shorebirds and 60 percent of the ducks and geese in the entire Pacific Flyway.

With significant losses of up to 95% of California's wetlands it is critical to find a new way of providing habitat to support these millions of birds that rely on the Central Valley during their migrations.

Rice fields have a unique ability to provide surrogate wetland habitat during both the growing and post-harvest periods of the production cycle.

The Foundation is excited to be owning and operating its own habitat enhancement program focused on providing critical shoulder season habitat for migratory birds. While many rice farmers already use bird-friendly practices during their farming operation this program is designed to provide funding for conservation-minded farmers willing to take an extra step to make their farms even more beneficial for waterbirds.
Program Successes
By focusing on the shoulder season, both before and after the typical post-harvest flooding period, the Foundation can provide a critical source of flooded habitat when it is most scarce and therefore most needed. Furthermore, many of these shoulder season migrants are shorebirds which require shallower water than is typically provided during the normal post-harvest flooding periods.
As part of an environmental initiative to help recover struggling salmon populations, California Rice has assembled a strong coalition of scientists, rice growers, and project funding organizations. The $1.4 million pilot project will test and refine rice farming practices to provide habitat and food for fish. California Rice has successfully worked with partners to specifically manage its floodplain farm fields to benefit millions of birds. We now look forward to adding to this legacy of conservation by using our "surrogate wetlands" to help fish in the Sacramento Valley.

Our first-year goals for this initiative on salmon include the following:
- Refine previous trials to grow salmon in winter-flooded rice fields into standardized management practices for use on farms near Sacramento River tributaries.
- Insert micro transmitters into 900 young Chinook salmon to track their journey from the Sacramento Valley all the way out to the Pacific Ocean.
- Determine the survivability of young salmon grown on highly productive winter-flooded rice fields.
Program Successes
We are entering into our first year of this multi-year program and look forward to posting our findings as we experience them.