Sutter Bypass Wildlife Habitat Restoration

This easement is a culmination of desire and opportunity to secure land that will forever be set aside as a habitat for wildlife. The 800 acre project is located in the Sutter Bypass which is part of the Sutter Basin, located within the Sacramento Valley portion of California’s Central Valley. In 2007 Al Montna entered into a wetland conservation easement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This conservation easement project will permanently protect, by restoring and enhancing, the area that has been set aside into wetlands. Montna along with his partners that include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited and Wildlife Conservation Board have invested approximately $600 per acre to develop this project which is one of the most important and most threatened areas for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife.  This conservation project was completed in late 2009.

The Central Valley supports 60% of the migrating and wintering waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway.  The Sacramento Valley supports 44% of the Pacific Flyway’s wintering waterfowl and is the single most important wintering area for waterfowl in the Flyway. Up to 3 million ducks and 750,000 geese winter in the Sacramento Valley.  More than 95% of the 4 million acres of historic wetlands and 90% of riparian habitats in the Central Valley have been lost.  Competition for water is high. Rice lands provide important habitat for wildlife.

Willow Slough Duck Club and the Mallard Pacific Duck Club are located within the Sutter Bypass, a floodwater bypass from the Sacramento River.  Waterfowl use of the Bypass is high during both flood and non-flood periods and the Bypass is the core area for waterfowl use in the Sutter Basin.

The setting aside of the conservation easement will assure agricultural wetlands will continue to provide important habitat for wintering waterfowl, shorebirds and other water birds for migration, wintering, or breeding. Significant species include northern pintail, mallard, white-fronted goose, American avocet, black-necked stilt, western sandpiper, white-faced ibis, and Virginia rail.  Many species that use either wetland-associated uplands or riparian habitat for nesting and foraging will also benefit.