Yolo Basin Foundation

The Yolo Basin Foundation is dedicated to the appreciation and stewardship of wetlands and wildlife of the Yolo Basin through education and innovative partnerships.

Address:45211 County Road 32B (Chiles Road)
Davis, CA 95618
County or Parish:Yolo County
Primary NTEE:Environment 
Sub NTEE:Environmental Education 
Executive Director:Martha Ozonoff
Contact Email:mozonoff@yolobasin.org
Primary Phone:530-756-7248
Yolo Basin Foundation was founded in 1990 as a community based organization to assist in the establishment of the 3700-acre Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. Yolo Basin Foundation and the CA Department of Fish & Wildlife have a unique partnership that makes the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area accessible to thousands of people each year. The Wildlife Area is a carefully managed complex of restored wetland habitats that successfully combines flood control, farming, and public use, all within sight of the California state capitol. In 2001, through the combined efforts of Yolo Basin Foundation and the Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area was expanded to a total of 16,700 acres (almost 25 square miles). The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, also known as the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area, is owned and operated by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. In 1997, the Wildlife Area was dedicated by President Clinton, who called it a national model for successful public-private partnerships.

Collaborative partnerships have been formed with local farmers and private wetland managers, conservation organizations, elected officials at all levels, and local, state and federal government agencies. The Foundation facilitates the Yolo Bypass Working Group, which provide a focused opportunity for farmers, land owners, and agencies within the Yolo Bypass to discuss Bypass land use related issues as well as provide guidance and opinions on such issues. Yolo Basin Foundation has received many awards since 1990, including the Conservation Leadership Award from the Central Valley Joint Venture (2011). Yolo Basin's largest program, Discover the Flyway, is an outdoor science education program for K-12 schools, based on California science and social studies curriculum standards. Its goal is to offer children a meaningful outdoor experience that will give them an appreciation for the wetlands, agriculture and wildlife of the Central Valley and contribute to a lifetime of healthy outdoor activities and development of a land stewardship ethic. Yolo Basin Foundation sponsors California Duck Days, a northern California wetlands festival. In addition, the Foundation publishes the Yolo Flyway newsletter, brings wetlands education to the classroom with our Wild About Wetlands kits, introduces the public to natural places in the community through public monthly tours of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and the City of Davis Wetlands, and hosts the Flyway Nights speaker series.
Below are Yolo Basin Foundation's most pressing needs:
- Program support (salary & supplies)
- Improving educational spaces (indoor and outdoor), shade structures, wheelchair ramp, vehicle for Wildlife Area tours
- Improved outreach materials (maps, brochures, interpretive resources, creating new signage for demonstration ponds and public tour route on Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area
- Update curriculum to meet the new common core education standards for California public schools
Our top needs:
  1. Funding: Unrestricted - Donations ensure that our programs continue to provide unique wetlands, wildlife, and educational experiences for thousands of children and hundreds of adults annually. Membership donations also provide critical support for continuing our conservation efforts on behalf of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.
  2. Funding: Program - Bus transportation is a crucial component of our Discover the Flyway program. If you, your company or your group is interested in sponsoring a class to come out for a fieldtrip, please contact us.
  3. Volunteers - Volunteers are an important part of the success of our programs and events. We need docents for our Discover the Flyway school program. We also need volunteers for events including our major fundraising event, Bucks for Ducks (individuals or groups).
  4. In-Kind Donations - Everything from pro bono printing for outreach materials to event supplies and prizes. Please contact us if you have something you would like to donate.
  5. Technology - We need I-pads to keep our events running smoothly and so we can photograph all of our activities and field trips.
'Over twenty-five years ago a handful of people came together with a notion to recreate the wetlands of the Putah Creek Sinks. That vision became the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Wildlife Area). What started as a local project has taken on national stature. It has been celebrated by thousands of people and inspired others to continue conservation efforts. Who would have believed that the project dreamed up by some local biologists and bird lovers would be visited and praised by President Clinton? A lot has happened since 1990. That early vision for the Yolo Bypass did not just stop with the initial purchase of 3700 acres in 1992.'

'The Wildlife Area is now a 16,800-acre complex of restored wetlands, vernal pools, grasslands, rice fields, row crops and irrigated pasture. We have a healthy, growing organization with a bright future! There are over 100 active volunteers. A few of them have volunteered for over 20 years. Volunteers contribute 4000 hours to our programs yearly. As I was writing this, a class of 3rd graders was enjoying their lunch after spending the morning discovering the wonders of wetlands at four stations around our teaching wetlands. Over 1000 teachers have participated in our Discover the Flyway workshops, prior to bringing their classes to the Wildlife Area. The teachers bring their students back year after year. Some love the program so much that they return as volunteers once they retire. At least 25% of the students live in very low-income neighborhoods. Many of these children never get to play outside. They do not go camping in the summer and they have never been to the beach. For many, a Discover the Flyway visit is their first experience in nature. We have never turned away a class because the school could not afford a bus to bring students. In the early years we paid for four or five buses a year. This year we are funding 40 buses through the generosity of our donors.'

'I had honor of leading this effort since the beginning. The Foundation is not just a job to me. It is an integral part of the life of my family. I mark milestones in its progress by the age of my children. The Wildlife Area is at the heart of the 25-year effort. It is loved by those who spend time watching the diversity of birds and marveling at the beauty of the wetlands. Today there are thousands of Tundra Swans feeding and resting in the flooded rice fields. Tens of thousands of ducks of at least ten different species are clearly visible to visitors. This is what Yolo Basin Foundation is all about.'

Robin Kulakow, Founder and former Executive Director