Kern Refuge Habitat Protection

Situated on the southern margin of what was once the largest freshwater wetland complex in the western United States, the Kern Refuge provides optimum wintering habitat for migratory birds with an emphasis on waterfowl and water birds. In 1960, Kern National Wildlife Refuge was established, consisting of 11,249-acres of natural desert uplands, a relict riparian corridor, and developed marsh and wetland sites, suitable for a variety of wildlife. The refuge serves to restore a small segment of extremely valuable waterfowl habitat and plays an important role in the success of avifauna or bird life using the Pacific Flyway.

The refuge perpetually struggles to secure sufficient water to create and maintain this invaluable wetland habitat. Through this project, The Nature Conservancy will acquire water from water districts participating in a dry year water transfer program and convey the water to the Kern Refuge during fall and winter months to create and/or enhance wetland habitat during a high-priority time of year for migratory birds.

This project serves as pilot element of The Nature Conservancy’s larger vision to increase and sustain the delivery of environmental flows over the long-term to support environmental needs in California’s Central Valley. This project will assist the refuge in piloting a new, more efficient conveyance route for water, leverage market-based mechanisms to strengthen relationships with local water purveyors, and continue to support the needs of local communities while protecting water critical for wildlife habitat.

* Project restores natural hydrologic conditions to facilitate improved capture and infiltration of surface water and groundwater recharge


Kern County, CA

Start Up Date:


Project Benefits:

Environmental Flow Restoration & Protection

Wildlife & Habitat Protection

Project Type:

Restoration of Natural Hydrology *


Fully Funded