California Ricelands Waterbird Foundation

Reviewed by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation

$4,028 raised by 32 donors

40% complete

$10,000 Goal

The California Ricelands Waterbird Foundation (Foundation) puts its passion and knowledge to work turning rice fields into highly valuable surrogate wetlands—essentially reactivating historic floodplains—that provide critical food and resting habitat for birds and other wildlife that use the Pacific Flyway on their epic annual migrations, and more recently for food and habitat for declining salmon populations as well.

Our programs empower rice farmers to strategically use their fields to help the following types of wildlife here in the Sacramento Valley:

  • Shorebirds that are in decline worldwide.
  • Chinook Salmon (including two critically threatened and endangered runs).
  • Beautiful wading birds (egrets, cranes, ibis, and bitterns), many of worldwide conservation concern.
  • Many species of ducks and geese that rely on the Sacramento Valley as one of the most important wintering areas for waterfowl in all of North America.

We leverage private philanthropy and public funding to bring rice growers, conservation organizations, and industry partners together to deliver real, quantifiable, community-based conservation practices that combine agricultural and conservation expertise that strengthens an entire region. We are building a community that responds to increasing environmental challenges in California with innovative, adaptable, and wildlife-friendly management practices. We increase conservation opportunities on agricultural lands, leveraging the farm community's expertise in collaboration with conservation groups, to implement projects at scale. This collaborative work opens new possibilities for creative conservation solutions, making it possible to develop innovative strategies and programs that emphasize the multiple benefits of our work—for people, wildlife, and the land.

We also strive to make flooded rice fields work for California’s salmon as well. We are currently working with a strong coalition of scientists, rice growers and fisheries agencies to test and refine field management practices designed to provide habitat and food for fish on rice fields in the current floodplains. Due to a rich food supply for fish (zooplankton), we have demonstrated growth of baby salmon raised on rice field floodplains to be the highest growth rates ever recorded in all Sacramento Valley habitats.  Some of our early testing, conducted by UC Davis scientists, has suggested enhanced odds of survival out to the ocean for juvenile salmon reared in the Sacramento Valley bypass areas that still function much like the historic floodplains did long before the levee systems were put in place.   Much of these bypass areas are used as rice fields with the unique infrastructure to hold water at depths that are beneficial to the rearing of baby salmon. Expanding on this work will ensure rice fields continue to provide multiple benefits.

We are also working with California Trout and other partners on proven method of strategically draining the zooplankton-rich water from winter-flooded rice fields on the dry sides of the levees to delivery this food subsidy to the salmon that are confined to the mainstem of the river.  Our web-based application system has been used for multiple years now to identify the best locations and get growers under contract to implement this valuable practice.

Giving Activity


The mission of the California Ricelands Waterbird Foundation ("Foundation") is to enhance the ecological value of California rice fields to help sustain the millions of waterbirds and other wildlife in the Pacific Flyway for future generations.


The Foundation’s signature program, Bid4Birds, provides critical habitat—shallowly flooded rice fields—during migration for many species of waterbirds, especially shorebirds, using the Pacific Flyway. This habitat needs to be created every spring and fall and contributes directly to the Central Valley Joint Venture’s annual habitat objectives. Funding for this important habitat is something we need to secure on an annual basis.

Most of the funds raised here contribute to more acres of this habitat for birds. A break in habitat availability for any spring or fall will mean these shorebirds arrive to the Sacramento Valley expecting to find somewhere to rest and refuel and instead find themselves having to continue their journeys with empty bellies and tired wings.

Other waterbird related projects we continue to develop and fund, include testing new ways to establish winter cover crops and leaving those cover crops to provide nesting habitat for waterbirds which use adjacent wetlands and growing rice to raise their babies during the summer.

The Foundation also contributes to our work to support salmon. Winter-flooded rice fields produce significant quantities of nutritional food resources that baby salmon desperately need as they move through the watershed. The key will be developing and funding programs to get the fish into the rice fields to access the food or purposely delivering this highly nutritious fish food to the fish in the Sacramento river. Some donor funding to the Foundation is used to coordinate the outreach to growers who have the perfect fields for this practice and getting them under contract to perform this great practice for baby salmon that can’t access the floodplain.

Organization Data


Organization name

California Ricelands Waterbird Foundation

other names


Year Established


Tax id (EIN)


Mission Category


Operating Budget


Organization Need

Funding: Unrestricted

Demographics Served

General population

Local Counties Served

El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Yolo


1231 I Street Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95814

Service areas

Sacramento, CA, US

Yolo, CA, US

Glenn, CA, US

Butte Valley, CA, US, 95965

Colusa, CA, US





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