The federal government is looking for volunteer farmers willing to flood their fields for migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway.
Applications are being taken through Nov. 7 by the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to flood farmland in six Sacramento Valley counties ahead of the arrival of migratory birds.
Farmers in Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties are eligible for the program.
“These birds are now arriving in California’s Central Valley where drought conditions have resulted in fallowed fields and cuts in water allotments,” said State Conservationist Carlos Suarez.
“Farm fields typically provide 50 percent of the migratory bird food resources and rice farmers are experiencing an 80 percent reduction in available surface water,” Suarez continued. “Our intention is to provide incentives to create 10,000 acres of shallow water wetlands and mudflats for shorebirds, wading birds, and waterfowl.”
The winter waterfowl initiative will provide financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to agricultural producers willing to follow precise water management guidelines on flooded agricultural fields.
Upon selection, participating land owners will immediately apply water to fields and maintain between 4-6 inches of water until at least Feb. 1. Farmers who implement these recommended practices will create immediate habitat with the appropriate critical water depth and timing needed by the birds.
Eligible farmers interested in the program can contact their local NRCS Service Center to learn more about the program and application process.
To download a copy of the program description from the NRCS Web site, go to: http://go.usa.gov/GS8h. Application of water to fields will follow NRCS guidelines.
Applications will be screened and ranked using factors that measure the projected environmental benefits towards improving wildlife habitat.