WINTER RICE HABITAT INCENTIVE PROGRAM

Program Summary

The Bid4Birds Program is open for a variety of habitat enhancement opportunities. We are currently assisting with the implementation of the California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program. This program is administered by the California Rice Commission with funding from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

The California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program focuses on ensuring the future of winter flooding on rice fields in California. In a normal year, the Sacramento Valley has nearly 300,000 acres of surrogate wetland habitats provided by winter flooded rice fields. These flooded rice acres provide critical habitat that support 7-10 million migratory waterfowl and shorebirds each winter. As water costs increase in California, rice producers have been forced to find alternatives to winter flooding for their post-harvest straw management and, as a result, there has been a significant reduction of winter flooding on the landscape. This reduction is most pronounced in areas with higher water costs. This program is designed to provide incentive payments to rice producers to ensure that winter flooding remains a viable activity for landowner and can still support waterfowl and other migratory birds in the Pacific Flyway. 

Key Program Details

  • Flooding period: 70 continuous days between October 15 and March 15.
    • Fields must be planted to rice the immediate previous season.
  • Payment Rates:
    • $20/acre on the East Side of the Valley
    • $40/acre on the West side of the Valley
  • Water Depth: continuous flooding of 1-12 inches
  • Field Treatment: Any combination of the following post-harvest straw treatments will be accepted: Bale, Burn, Chop, No Treatment, Roll, Single Disc or Chisel pass, Stomp
  • Property Access: To ensure compliance, enrolled fields will be monitored with both in-person visits and satellite.

Ineligible Applications

  • Within 5 miles of Sacramento International Airport and Beal Air-force Base (see exclusion area maps below)

Payment Structure

 

The California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program will have two fixed rate incentive payments based on location within the Sacramento Valley.

Standard Payment: $20/acre

The Standard Payment is for rice producers on the East side of the Sacramento Valley. The East side is defined as the following Counties: Butte, Sacramento, Yuba, Placer, San Joaquin and part of Sutter (all lands East of the West Levee of the Sutter By-pass, including the everything within the By-pass)

Enhanced Payment: $40/acre

The Enhanced Payment is for rice producers on the West side of the Sacramento Valley. The West side is defined as the following Counties: Glenn, Colusa, Yolo and part of Sutter (all lands West of the West Levee of the Sutter By-pass)

Field Conditions

Field must be planted to rice the immediate pervious growing season to be eligible for this program

Post-Harvest Treatments

We will accept any combination of the following post-harvest treatments for this program: Bale, Burn, Chop, No Treatment, Roll, Single Disc or Chisel pass, Stomp.  Although we will accept light tillage such as a single pass or a chisel or disc, we will not accept heavy tillage. Waste grain is an important food source for waterfowl and deep tillage can bury a significant amount of the grain left after harvest. In order to be considered for this program, do not use heavy tillage prior to flooding.

Water Management

Rice fields must remain flooded for at least 70 continuous days between October 15 and March 15. The specific dates can be flexible based on the applicants preference. However, those producers that are willing to extend flooding beyond February 1st will be given additional points during the ranking and scoring process. 

Ranking and Scoring Process

All bids will be ranked and scored by the California Rice Commission's Biologist in direct consultation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Application will be assessed using standardized methods and information about the ranking and scoring process can be found below. 

 

1. Consistency with the goals of the California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program (Pass/Fail): 

  • Pass Property was farmed for rice and has the potential to be flooded during the winter in proposed timing window. 
  • Fail Property was not farmed for rice and/or does not have potential to be flooded during the winter in proposed timing window. 

2. Winter Water Reliability and Availability (max. 20 points): 

  • (20 points) Property is within a water district (or has property specific water rights) that will allow it to be flooded during proposed timing window most years. 
  • (0 points) Property is within a water district (or has property specific water rights) that will allow it to be flooded most years, but inadequate conveyance or restrictions on timing of delivery decreases likelihood of rice being flooded during proposed timing window, or property is reliant on groundwater for winter-flooding. 

3. Connectivity with Surrounding Habitat(s) (max. 20 points): 

  • Natural habitat (20 pts.) X ____ % border = ____ pts. 
  • Rice/Corn (20 pts.) X ____ % border = ____ pts. 
  • Other (0 pts.) X ____ % border = ____ pts. 15 

4. Compatibility of Property with Adjacent Land Use(s) (max. 20 points): 

  • (20 points) Anticipated habitat management will be compatible with current surrounding land use. 
  • (0 points) Anticipated habitat management may potentially conflict with current surrounding land use (e.g. urban centers or incompatible agriculture such as alfalfa, winter wheat, or potatoes). 

5. Proximity to Permanently Protected Wetland that is Managed as a Sanctuary/Closed Area with Maintenance-only Disturbance (max. 20 points): 

  • (20 points) Property is located within 5 miles of permanently protected wetland that is managed as a sanctuary/closed area. 
  • (10 points) Property is located within 5 miles of permanently protected wetland that has maintenance-only levels of disturbance outside of waterfowl season. 
  • (0 points) Property is located greater than 5 miles from permanently protected wetland that is managed as a sanctuary/closed area. 

6. Basin/County Priority (max. 30 points): 

  • (30 points) Property is located within a county that has been documented to have <50% of harvested rice fields flooded during winter months*. 
  • (15 points) Property is located within a county that has been documented to have 50-75% of harvested rice fields flooded during winter months*. 
  • (0 points) Property is located within a county that has been documented to have >75% of harvested rice fields flooded during winter months*. 

7. Timing of Water on Landscape (max. 30 points): 

  • (30 points) Landowner is willing and able to flood some or all of proposed acreage for 70 days between Jan 1st and March 15th. 
  • (20 points) Landowner is willing and able to flood some or all of proposed acreage for 70 days between Dec 15th and March 1st. 
  • (10 points) Landowner is willing and able to flood some or all of proposed acreage for 70 days between Dec 1st and Feb 15th. 
  • (0 points) Landowner is not willing to flood some or all of proposed acreage for 70 days between Dec 1st and March 15th. 

8. Post-harvest manipulation (max. 30 points): 

  • (15 points) Landowner is willing to flood some or all of proposed parcel(s) without incorporating stubble via discing/chiseling. 
  • (15 points) Landowner is willing to stomp flooded fields. 
  • (0 points) Landowner is not willing to flood parcel(s) without incorporating stubble via discing/chiseling, and is not willing or able to stomp. 
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