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Wintering waterfowl respond to Wetlands Reserve Program lands in the Central Valley of California

December 31, 2012

Daytime use by wintering waterfowl at Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) sites within the northern Central Valley of California (CVC) increased dramatically after wetland restoration and was sustained for up to 8 years post-restoration. The magnitude of the increase in waterfowl density at WRP sites after wetland restoration was greater with greater densities of birds in the local area before restoration, lower amount of surrounding wetland habitat within a 1.5-km radius, greater increase in flooding after restoration, and closer proximity to flooded rice fields. Estimates of waterfowl distribution within areas sampled by weather surveillance radar suggest that 18 percent of wintering waterfowl use the more than 67,900 acres of restored and unrestored land enrolled in the WRP. Restored wetland habitat within WRP sites made up about 8 percent (30,360 acres) of the total wetland habitat within the CVC in 2007. Waterfowl use of flooded rice fields during the daytime and during wetter winters nearly tripled from 1995 to 2007 relative to use of natural wetland habitats. Recommendations An additional 104,000 acres of seasonal wetland restoration are needed to meet waterfowl conservation objectives in the CVC ( Central Valley Joint Venture 2006). Active restoration of hydrology and moist-soil management on WRP sites can help meet this objective. Waterfowl use of WRP sites can also be improved by locating sites close to flooded rice fields within local landscapes that have high pre-existing waterfowl abundance and relatively little wetland habitat. The assessment team developed spatially explicit decision support tools for prioritizing future WRP enrollments. The tools map the predicted post-restoration magnitude of waterfowl use based on site and local landscape variables.

Publication Year 2012
Title Wintering waterfowl respond to Wetlands Reserve Program lands in the Central Valley of California
Authors Jeffrey J. Buler, Wylie Barrow, Lori A. Randall
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title CEAP Conservation Insight
Index ID 70039733
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wetlands Research Center