The online registration period is now open for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) popular Sandhill Crane Wetland Tours at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve near Lodi in San Joaquin County.
Online registration is required to participate in these late-afternoon guided tours, which start in October and run through February. The tours take place the first through third Saturdays and Sundays of each month for five months during the cranes’ fall and winter stay in California’s Central Valley. Online registration is available up to eight weeks in advance. Registration opened in mid-August for October tour dates and in mid-September for November dates. More information about the tours is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regions/3/Crane-Tour.
After Nov. 13, 2017, those 16 and older attending the tours will be required to purchase and possess a CDFW lands pass in order to participate. Visitors carrying a valid hunting or fishing license will be exempt from this new requirement. Signs will be posted at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve notifying visitors of the need for a lands pass, and tour docents will be checking for lands passes or licenses at the start of each tour. A daily lands pass costs $4.32 and an annual lands pass costs $24.33. Lands passes may be purchased online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/, by phone at (800) 565-1458, and in-person wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold (locations at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing). Lands pass fees will be used for the management of this and other CDFW lands. For more information about lands passes, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/Lands-Pass.
The Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, northeast of Lodi, is a popular spot for viewing the Pacific Flyway’s greater and lesser sandhill cranes returning to California’s Central Valley. The reserve is also known as the Isenberg Crane Reserve, named after former Congressman Phil Isenberg, who was instrumental in conserving the land.
The Woodbridge Ecological Reserve is also accessible to the public at any time for self-guided tours. A series of informative interpretive panels at the reserve’s south unit at 11154 W. Woodbridge Road in Lodi offers good visitor support. Staying until sundown is recommended for witnessing the sights and sounds associated with “fly-over” and the cranes’ return to their evening roosting spots.
CDFW is also proud to co-sponsor the Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival scheduled for Nov. 3-5. Information about festival tours and activities is available at www.cranefestival.com/index.php.