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Maximizing Waterbird Habitat on CA Ricelands

Year Awarded: Fiscal Year 2019

USDA Funding: $5,488,033.00

Partner-Contributed Funding: $11,040,384.00

Project Timeline: 2019 - 2024

Conservation Program Funded: Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP): Land Management 

California Counties: Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Madera, Merced, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba, Fresno, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties

Lead Partner: California Rice Commission

Collaborating Partners:

  • Audubon California
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • California Ricelands Waterbird Foundation
  • California Waterfowl
  • Central Valley Joint Venture
  • Delta Waterfowl
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Northern California Water Association
  • Pheasants Forever
  • Point Blue Conservation Science
  • Rice Research Board
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • US Geological Survey

Project Summary

The Maximizing Waterbird Habitat on CA Ricelands RCPP Project is a conservation partnership that can provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and landowners for implementation of wildlife habitat management practices that will increase the foraging, roosting, and nesting value of ricelands for wetland-dependent wildlife species in the Central Valley. The rice production region stretches from the Sacramento Valley in the north through the Delta and includes parts of the San Joaquin Valley in the south. The Central Valley includes several areas with critical designations for migratory birds, including the Sacramento Valley Wetlands and the Grasslands Ecological Area. These wetland complexes are recognized as Internationally Important under the Ramsar Convention, the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, and Audubon’s Important Bird Areas.

Project Goals

  • Increase nesting habitat by using flexible options to establish (phase 1) and maintain (phase 2) cover crops on fallowed rice fields due to water curtailments or other factors; thus, maintaining wildlife benefits even in years where the fields are not flooded for a rice crop.
  • Provide critical wetland habitat to benefit waterbirds and other wildlife in rice fields.
  • Implement a targeted pilot project to enhance non-productive areas of farms, using native plants and climate-smart principles, for the benefit of upland bird species and pollinators.

Conservation Practices/Activities

Nest cover Habitat

  • 340 - Cover Crop
  • 645 - Upland Wildlife Habitat Management

Waterbirds Habitat

  • 644 - Wetland Wildlife Habitat Management

Permanent Wildlife Habitat

  • 327 - Conservation Cover
  • 386 - Field Border
  • 420 - Wildlife Habitat Planting
  • 649 - Structures for Wildlife


NRCS Contact


Andrea Casey, RCPP Coordinator
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Davis State Office, California
Phone: (530) 304-2124


Back to California RCPP