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Farmers Needed To Flood Fields For Birds In Drought

Drew Kelly / The Nature Conservancy
 

Drew Kelly / The Nature Conservancy

The Sacramento Valley is a resting stop for millions of birds in the Pacific Flyway.

Wet weather in Canada earlier this year is predicted to bring a record number of birds. And they'll face a landscape with little water. 

"Predictions are that there is going to be more than normal coming to a Sacramento Valley that has less than normal habitat available," says Anita Brown with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. "So we’re trying to pump that up a little bit and make about 10,000 acres more available to the birds.”

The NRCS is looking for farmers in six Sacramento Valley counties who are willing to flood their fields for the birds. Farm fields provide much of the food for migratory birds. 

Meghan Hertle with Audubon California is worried that without enough habitat birds will die.

"They're going to crowd into the few areas where they can find water and food and that can lead to overcrowding and outbreaks of disease like botulism and cholera that can lead to thousands of birds dying," says Hertle. "We've already seen over 6,000 birds die in the Klamath and we're on close look out to make sure that doesn't start occurring further in the Central Valley."

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is providing financial incentives for growers willing to flood their fields until February 1st.