Reclamation, Biggs-West Gridley Water District and Ducks Unlimited complete major milestone in Gray Lodge Wildlife Area water supply project

Media Contact: Mary Lee Knecht, 916-978-5100, mknecht@usbr.gov

For Release: November 30, 2020

Waterfowl at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area (CDFW photo by Lori Dieter)
Waterfowl at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area (CDFW photo by Lori Dieter)
SACRAMENTO Calif- The Bureau of Reclamation, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. and Biggs-West Gridley Water District completed the second phase of a five-phase construction project to improve water conveyance for the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. This milestone includes increasing capacity of two major canals that feed water to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, home to more than a million waterfowl annually.

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is a 9,100-acre preserve located 55 miles northwest of Sacramento in Gridley. It is managed for wildlife and supports more than 300 species of resident and migrant birds and mammals.

“The completion of this project’s stage helps solidify a positive agricultural-and-environmental partnership that will serve the surrounding areas, as well as maximize water supplies needed to maintain mandated wetland refuge water supply,” said California-Great Basin Regional Director Ernest Conant.” 

As part of the second phase, Schwind Canal, located at the entry point to Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, which was degraded and undersized, was replaced with a larger structure capable of conveying increased flow. Similarly, the Razorback Flume, another key water delivery structure for the wildlife area, was also replaced with a larger, redesigned structure capable of conveying more water and safer to operate.

This stage of the project’s system improvements is part of a broader Sacramento Valley effort to deliver multi-benefit projects. These system improvements will deliver water to not only critical wetland habitat but also many rice farmers, helping them to remain viable, while ensuring they can continue providing food for people and waterfowl alike.

Although not all the system improvements have yet been completed, the work accomplished thus far allowed Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in 2020 to manage their land and water resources to provide much-needed food and habitat not only for migratory waterfowl, but also for shorebirds, other Pacific Flyway birds and resident terrestrial species. Once all phases are complete, delivery of the full water supply for Gray Lodge Wildlife Area will be possible. Full construction is anticipated to be complete in summer 2023.

“Gray Lodge is often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Pacific Flyway’ and with good reason,” said Ducks Unlimited Director of the Western Region Mark Biddlecomb. “It’s importance to waterfowl is tremendous. Ducks Unlimited is proud to be a part of this partnership to help ensure sufficient water supplies for this incredible place.” 

“Biggs-West Gridley Water District is very excited to be moving closer to project completion,” said Biggs-West Gridley Water District General Manager Eugene Massa Jr. “This is truly a successful collaborative effort between the agricultural and environmental communities, benefitting the environment and improving regional water management.”

Learn more about this release by contacting Fernando Ponce at 916-978-5104 (TTY is 1-800-877-8389) or by emailing him at fponce@usbr.gov.

BACKGROUND
The Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Central Valley Project Improvement Act, Public Law 102-575, Title 34, Section 3406(d), directs the Secretary of the Interior through Reclamation to deliver specified quantities of water to 19 refuges located in the Central Valley, including Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. Reclamation is obligated to annually deliver water in specific quantities to the boundary of the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, meeting both scheduling and timing needs as determined by CDFW. Reclamation and CDFW have developed a strong working relationship and partnership through their combined efforts towards meeting CVPIA goals.

In 1992, Congress passed the CVPIA. In accordance with the CVPIA, Reclamation is required to provide specific quantities of water to various refuges in the Central Valley, including Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. Through an agreement with Reclamation, the Biggs-West Gridley Water District conveys CVPIA water supplies through a series of water district-maintained canals and ditches to three delivery points at the boundary of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. The water is then distributed through a series of CDFW-maintained canals and ditches to the seasonal wetlands and irrigated pasture and crop lands of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.

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