Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Sacramento NWR

About 70 miles north of Sacramento is the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). It is part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which includes five National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) and three Wildlife Management Areas (WMA).

The Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex provides nearly 70,000 acres of wetland, grassland, and riparian habitats for a wide array of waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, waterbirds, songbirds, reptiles, and mammals. The Complex currently supports nearly 300 species of birds.

The Sacramento NWR consists of 10,819 acres primarily of wetlands, with some grasslands and riparian habitats.

"Sacramento NWR was established in 1937 with funds from Emergency Conservation Fund Act of 1933 to provide refuge and breeding habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, provide habitat and manage for endangered, threatened, or sensitive species, and alleviate crop depredation.

"Historically, the area of the refuge was known as the Colusa Plains which was a vacant, windswept plain with short grasses, shrubs and forbs. In January 1937, the federal government purchased 10,775-acre Spalding Ranch and christened it the Sacramento Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. From 1937-1942 the Civilian Conservation Corp's (CCC) "Camp Sacramento" housed up to 200 men at the current headquarters area. The men constructed levees, water control structures, and delivery ditches to create and sustain wetlands across the majority of the refuge.

"The refuge supports over 250 species of birds. Most notable are the huge wintering concentrations (November - January) of 500,000 to 750,000 ducks and 200,000 geese. Raptor numbers swell as the waterfowl numbers increase, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons. Waterfowl viewing is good between October and March" (fws.gov/refuge/Sacramento/Aboutthecomplex).

We accompanied cousin Barbara over the popular six-mile auto tour, which meandered along marshes and riparian areas and photographed the scenes in today's entry. Visitors are required to stay in their vehicles to prevent disturbance to the wildlife while on the auto tour but can get out at three stop-and-stretch locations, including the platform.