FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program Now Accepting Applications

From the Department of Fish and Wildlife:

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 of 2018. AB 2348 established the California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program (Section 3469, Fish and Game Code), which is designed to continue, and further encourage the winter-flooding of harvested rice fields in the Central Valley of California. Approximately 75% of the energetic needs of dabbling ducks, and a significant portion of the energetic needs of migrating shorebirds utilizing the Sacramento Valley are provided by winter-flooded rice fields.

The California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program (CWRHIP) provides economic incentives to landowners who agree to manage their properties in accordance with a management plan developed cooperatively by biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat Program (hereinafter referred to as CDFW) and the landowner. Management plans will 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 middle of March) will be given additional points in the ranking process. Properties located within 5 miles of an active airstrip on a military base or international airport will not be considered for enrollment under this program (see Appendix C for maps and descriptions of closure boundaries).

The program pays landowners an annual incentive of $10/acre for the winter-flooding of harvested rice fields that were planted at least two of the last three years (2016-2018). The CWRHIP Standard Agreement (i.e. the State contract) is a contract that must be signed by all program participants (landowners). As required by Section 3469.2 of Fish and Game Code, each agreement is for 3-years. The program will start after the 2019 harvest and will continue during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

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