News & Articles

CWA Sponsors Legislation to Encourage Waterfowl Breeding Habitat, Ease Regulations and Fees on Private Lands

March 24, 2017

California Waterfowl is sponsoring two bills by Assembly Member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) to support private landowners who voluntarily manage their lands for waterfowl conservation purposes.

AB 472 would facilitate the establishment of additional waterfowl nesting cover on fallowed lands, including those involved with water transfers.  This would particularly benefit breeding mallards in the rice growing areas of the Sacramento Valley that periodically participate in water transfers and offer beneficial mallard brood water in the spring and summer.

“We know that many landowners want to provide waterfowl and other conservation benefits on fallowed lands, but current regulations and lack of targeted state assistance limit their ability to do so,” stated Assembly Member Frazier.  “AB 472 seeks to address these issues.”

The bill would strengthen a policy established in 2013 in the Water Code that requires the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to encourage non-irrigated cover crops and other natural vegetation on fallowed lands as part of water transfers.  Many landowners still fear that they will be penalized by DWR if they do not remove or kill (e.g. disc or spray herbicides) the non-irrigated vegetative cover on these lands.  The bill would help ensure that any requirement by DWR to remove or manipulate that cover is based on credible scientific data and it accomplished in a way the reduces impacts to waterfowl and other wildlife.

AB 472 would also create an incentive-based program for landowners who are willing to maintain wildlife cover on any fallowed lands. 

AB 718 (Frazier) would reduce mosquito spraying costs for private landowners who manage wetlands under conservation easements or similar state or federal agreements and agree to implement best management practices (BMPs) to control mosquitoes.

Spraying of insecticides for mosquito abatement purposes, while often necessary to protect public health, costs many wetland owners thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars each year.  These costs leave less funding for necessary wetland maintenance activities that optimize food resources and habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wetland-dependent species.  They also provide a growing disincentive for private landowners, who currently own two-thirds of California’s remaining wetlands, to conserve wetlands in perpetuity.   

“CWA greatly appreciates the willingness of Assembly Member Frazier to author these important bills, and we look forward to working with him to support duck clubs, farmers and other landowners who provide waterfowl conservation benefits on their property” stated Mark Hennelly, CWA Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Public Policy.

The first hearings on both bills are expected in early April in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.

Ducks, ducks and more ducks!

March 6, 2017

The kids held ducks, they painted ducks, they sketched ducks, they learned to identify and call ducks. Really, it was all about the ducks.

We’re talking about Duck Days 2017, an educational festival near Davis in late February where California Waterfowl and other wildlife organizations taught families about waterfowl and wetland conservation, among other topics.

About 600 people attended the event, and CWA was on hand to teach children aspects of biology, hunting and art, while giving them something they could take home from the day – a decoy cut-out they painted, with a little guidance from our education staff.

CWA is always glad to participate in events such as Duck Days, as we believe that hands-on waterfowl and wetland education is vital to our conservation efforts. Other participants in the event included the city of Davis, the Yolo Basin Foundation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Yolo Audubon Society.

 

With wet winter, need for Sites Reservoir more vital than ever

A drought-busting January has come to a close. A series of storms throughout the month have brought more than 300 percent of normal precipitation to most of the state.

The deluge increased water storage to 112 percent of its average after years of drought left a string of parched reservoirs throughout California.

It is undeniably good news for the state’s water supply, but problems linger beneath the surface. The state’s investment in new water storage infrastructure has been stalled for decades, while California’s population continues to increase.

Water demand is increasing, while the supply has stayed flat. Do the math.

This is where Sites Reservoir, a proposed water storage project in Colusa and Glenn counties, comes into play.

Sites Reservoir is an ideal project for the 21st century, where concerns about the environment and the effects of climate change exist alongside water supply needs for agriculture, cities and wildlife. It is an off-stream reservoir, meaning it will pump water from the Sacramento River during periods of high flows. It will not block rearing habitat of endangered fish, and it will provide water managers with the flexibility to better manage the water supply for the benefits of farmers and the environment.

Moreover, Sites will capture water that is currently spilling into the ocean, unused. This year, with the heavy January storms, Sites could have captured more than 585,000 acre-feet of water (almost 200 billion gallons). For reference, in normal years, the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge complex (Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa and Sutter refuges) use between 21,000 and 24,000 acre-feet of water.

California Waterfowl supports this project because of the benefit its water supply could have for waterfowl. It could provide a source of water during dry years for the Sacramento Valley wildlife refuges, and it could ease restrictions on moving water south of the Delta to the Grasslands Water District and other San Joaquin Valley refuges.

For more information on the project, visit www.sitesproject.org.

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