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Flooding Opportunities – Drought Relief Waterbird Program

Flooding Opportunities – Drought Relief Waterbird Program

In response to extreme drought-related concerns for Pacific Flyway waterbirds, the California rice industry has teamed up with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to fund a special $8 million Drought Relief Waterbird Program. This program seeks to create waterbird habitat through the operation of groundwater wells to winter flood rice fields for migratory birds. The program will be rolled out on an expedited timeframe, given the rice harvest schedule this year.  

Although we will accept light tillage such as a single disc or chisel pass, we will not accept heavy tillage. Waste grain is an important food source for waterfowl and deep tillage can bury a significant amount of the grain left after harvest. In order to be considered for this program, do not use heavy tillage prior to flooding.

The key details of the program are as follows:

  • Growers can submit bids to the California Ricelands Waterbird Foundation to recover groundwater pumping costs for flooding habitat. 
    • Bidding will open September 8 and close September 20, 2021 at 5:00 pm.
  • Notifications about bid status will be issued by October 4, 2021.
  • Flooding period will be from November 1, 2021 though January 31, 2022. 
  • Required water depths between 2-8 inches.
  • Flooding must be done with groundwater.
  • Any combination of the following post-harvest treatments is acceptable: Bale, Burn, Chop, No Treatment, Roll, Single Disc or Chisel pass, Stomp.
  • To ensure compliance, enrolled fields will be monitored by the Foundation.
  • Areas within a five miles radius from Sacramento Metro and Beale Airports are ineligible for this program. 

Technical questions about this program should be directed to Luke Matthews, the CRC’s Wildlife Programs Manager, at or (916) 607-8988.

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