The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for the California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program. For Fiscal Year 2018-2019, up to $4.25 million will be available for the program.
In response to the recent decline of winter-flooded rice fields in the Central Valley and the ecological importance of this habitat base, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 2348 in September 2018. AB 2348 established the California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program (CWRHIP), which is designed to continue and further encourage the winter flooding of harvested rice fields in the Central Valley of California. Harvested rice fields that are flooded during the winter months currently provide 75 percent of the food needs of migratory dabbling ducks, and a significant portion of the food needs of migrating shorebirds using the Sacramento Valley.
CWRHIP provides economic incentives to landowners who agree to manage their properties in accordance with a management plan cooperatively developed by biologists from CDFW’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat Program and participating landowners. Management plans require landowners to flood harvested rice fields for a minimum of 70 continuous days during the winter months (October-March). Properties that can maintain water during critical months (January through mid-March) are given additional points in the ranking process. The program pays landowners an annual incentive of $10 per acre for the winter flooding of harvested rice fields that were planted at least two of the last three years.
The deadline to apply for this program is Feb. 25, 2019 at 4 p.m. The program solicitation, application instructions and other information are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/lands/cwhp/private-lands-programs.