Sacramento River Wetlands

This project partners with The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Bird Returns Program and local rice farmers to keep fields flooded to sustain critical wetland habitat in California’s Central Valley.  By providing funding that supports TNC’s Bird Returns Program, rice farmers in California’s Sacramento River basin are able to acquire water and create wetland habitat on their farmland during critical periods of the year to benefit birds migrating on the Pacific Flyway.  By providing a relatively tiny amount of water—and using that water during critical times of the year and in strategic locations—TNC and the Bird Returns Program is able to generate significant wildlife benefits. Almost 95% of wetland habitat has been lost in California’s Central Valley, and by working collaboratively with farmers, this project provides an important new revenue stream for rice growers while creating a water and wetland lifeline for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.    The project seeks to provide 10,000 acres of habitat  each year for hundreds of thousands of migrating shorebirds that rely on California’s Central Valley.

* Project supports voluntary transactions to change, reduce or stop water use – either temporarily or permanently – to protect or restore water for environmental benefit

** This resource has been reviewed and found to meet the BEF Flow Program Certification Criteria for Evaluating Proposals to Secure Environmental Flows by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.


Near Sacramento, CA

Start Up Date:


Project Benefits:

Food & Water Security

Recreation & Economic Enhancements

Sustainable Agriculture

Wildlife & Habitat Improvement

Project Type:

Flow Restoration Transaction *


Funding Needed

Volunteer Opportunities

WRCs Generated:

Yes **

Project Partner

The Nature Conservancy of California