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Rice Farmers Change Practices To Benefit Birds

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shorebirds and waterfowl love rice fields…which are like natural wetlands. The birds require shallow, flooded habitat of up to six inches deep.

Rice fields are often deeper than that…and some farmers pull the water off their land in January. 

But under a $2.68 million grant, farmers in Glenn and Colusa counties will modify their fields and production practices.

Leo LaGrande is a rice farmer in Williams.

"We already have that honor of carrying these 230 species on our rice fields all the time but this is just going to even make it better. The health of the birds is going to increase and the number of birds that will come to our rice fields will definitely increase."

Under the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative, farmers will flood their fields earlier or maintain the water longer in the season at depths specifically needed at critical points in the season. They'll also shape levees between fields to better accommodate the birds.

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