Last week, Congressmen Doug LaMalfa and Mike Thompson introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to recognize the significant role that California ricelands play in wildlife conservation.
“California’s ricelands play an essential role in protecting our wildlife and conserving their populations,” said Thompson. “California’s riceland owners alongside researchers and partners from the salmon and waterfowl community have been protecting our ricelands and serving as good stewards of our environment. I am proud to work with the organizations that have endorsed this resolution to ensure that California’s ricelands continue to play an important role in wildlife conservation and preserve and enhance riceland habitats for generations to come.”
“Farmers are stewards of nature, carefully conserving natural resources and taking care of their lands. I’m pleased to join Representative Thompson on this bipartisan resolution and give California ricelands recognition on the benefits they provide. Ricelands grow the food we need, provide jobs and an economy and ensure essential habitat for waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway and for juvenile salmon. Working together with conservation groups and research institutions ensures that our riceland habitats are protected for the next generation of farmers and the critters that call them home,” said LaMalfa.
“We are honored to be recognized by this Ricelands Habitat Resolution that demonstrates how hard our growers and millers of California rice have worked, for decades, to care for the resources of California and become known as the environmental crop. We appreciate this reputation as a leader in habitat conservation and environmental stewardship. We thank Congressman Thompson and his staff for considering us for this great honor and taking the time to prepare this resolution,” said Tim Johnson, President and CEO California Rice Commission.
“The Pacific Flyway contains some of the most important and most threatened waterfowl habitat in North America,” said Kellis Moss, Ducks Unlimited Director of Public Policy. “While many of the flyway’s historic wetlands have disappeared, collaborative conservation efforts on California’s working ricelands have provided essential habitat for wintering waterfowl. We appreciate Representative Thompson’s resolution to strengthen our ability to conserve California’s essential waterfowl habitat with our agriculture and conservation partners. Sacramento Valley rice fields managed so that they provide habitat for waterbirds are widely acknowledged to be one of the nation’s great conservation success stories. Now the science has shown that these same fields are also critically important for recovering the Golden State’s salmon and other endangered fish populations.
“These working lands solutions are how we get the most pop per drop from our limited water resources,” said Jacob Katz, lead scientist for the conservation non-profit California Trout. “It’s a win-win-win model for California’s fins, feathers and farms.”
“Audubon is proud to support this resolution recognizing the benefits of California’s ricelands and conservation efforts by rice growers to birds, other wildlife, and surrounding communities when they provide the water and habitat that are essential for birds to thrive on the Pacific Flyway,” said Mike Lynes, policy director for Audubon California. “Working with conservation groups like Audubon, California’s rice growers have created more than 350,000 acres of seasonal habitat for millions of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as spawning salmon and other wildlife. This work has also helped improve air, as farmers now flood fields to compost rice stubble, rather than burning it. As climate change drives California into a hotter, drier future, making sure migrating birds have the water they need in a region of hemispheric importance is more vital than ever.”
Cosponsors of the resolution include John Garamendi, Doris Matsui, Jim Costa, Jimmy Panetta and David Valadao.
The resolution is endorsed by the California Rice Commission, California Trout, California Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, the National Audubon Society, the Northern California Water Association, the University of California, Davis, and the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.