Pacific Flyway supporters gathered at the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area on Wednesday to celebrate the kick-off of the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area Water Supply Project. This multi-benefit system improvement project will increase the conveyance capacity and improve water supply reliability for the Wildlife Area and surrounding farms.
Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, which is also known as a “Jewel in the Pacific Flyway,” is a 9,100 acre property on the north side of the Sutter Buttes that provides habitat for more than 300 species, including resident and migrant birds.
The improved conveyance capacity will allow the Wildlife Area to fully achieve the water delivery capabilities necessary to meet habitat objectives. The partners implementing the project include Biggs-West Gridley Water District, Ducks Unlimited, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Bureau of Reclamation.
Event speakers included California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot and Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant.
Speaking about the project, Secretary Crowfoot stated, “We need to be creating places for our fish and wildlife. This is why this Gray Lodge project is important….We have to find more projects like this to complete in the future.”
Regional Director Conant described the project as “A unique opportunity for agricultural and environmental communities to work together.” He went on to say that, “This project will improve water deliveries for agriculture and wildlife for generations to come.”
Virginia Getz with Ducks Unlimited touted the project as an example of what “motivates us to keep working together” and that it “is an example of how so much has been accomplished through partnerships here in the Sacramento Valley.”
Gary Justeson, Board President of the Biggs-West Gridley Water District, which conveys surface water to the Wildlife Area, called out the role the project will play to “provide better service to Gray Lodge and to our landowners.”
Also present at the event was Miles Hermann, who painted the Gray Lodge painting above for the NCWA office.
Biggs-West Gridley Water District General Manager Eugene Massa, concluded the event by recognizing the partners that have made the project happen, stating “The list of everyone that has worked on this project over the years is much too large to enumerate individually, however, each of you have not been forgotten and we thank you all. The Gray Lodge Water Supply Project is a testament that voluntary collaborative partnerships amongst the agricultural water community, government, and the conservation community is essential to managing water for multiple benefits.”The Gray Lodge Water Supply Project is part of a comprehensive effort to secure the water supplies necessary to maximize habitat values on the refuge properties, otherwise known as Level IV supplies. A recent assessment of the water and infrastructure needs for all of the Central Valley refuges is available here.
To view a video of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area that was developed for the event by Ducks Unlimited, click here.