The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently
approved a special $2.68 million pilot conservation program
that is ideally suited for California ricelands. It is
called the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative. The California
Rice Commission (CRC), in collaboration with its conservation partners,
will use these funds to demonstrate how conservation funding
can be wisely invested in ricelands to further enhance habitat.
This is a significant next step towards the CRC’s goal of delivering
an industry-wide program in the near future. This pilot will take
the California rice industry from its current work with Audubon and
PRBO Conservation Science to test out the practices on a half-dozen
farms to developing and refining a program that can deliver funds
through NRCS contracts with participants.
This initial small-scale pilot program will be ground-tested in the
Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District beginning in 2011-12. Initially, the
program will focus on about six specific practices beneficial to waterbirds
and raptors, including:
• Returning boards back into the rice boxes after harvest to hold
• Enhancements of nesting habitat by modifying rice check berms
and creating nesting islands.
• Enhancing duration and types of early spring habitat created
when intentionally flooding rice fields in the winter season.
• Installing nesting and roost structures for certain non-waterbird
species such as hawks, eagles and owls.
This pilot-scale effort, which received more than 70 applicants
within the two-week sign-up period, will also include monitoring and evaluation to demonstrate proven results. The CRC will manage
this pilot opportunity as a “stepping stone” towards a goal of establishing
an industry-wide program available to all growers within the
next few years.
This article was provided by the California Rice Commission (CRC).
The CRC represents the entirety of the state’s rice industry, including
all rice growers and handlers who farm and process rice.
Wildlife and rice fields:
Rice replicates the once-abundant wetlands: