Fish Food on Floodplain Farm Fields

Fish Food on Floodplain Farm Fields

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Project Goal:

By comparing and contrasting hydrologic conditions and aquatic food web dynamics across the spectrum of existing wetland habitat types (i.e., river channel, managed wetlands, farm fields and bypasses), the project will: 1) improve understanding of aquatic food web productivity in the Sacramento Valley and 2) assess the potential for these diverse aquatic habitats, including the hundreds of thousands of acres of floodplain farmland and managed wetlands, to contribute food resources to the river ecosystem, bolster in-river and Delta food webs, and help support recovery of endangered fish populations.


5,000 acres of farmland under improved management to exporting fish food and an estimated 12,000 lbs of zooplankton fish food added to the Sacramento River.

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Project Stages

100% Planning, Design, and Permitting

Implementation

Estimated Completion Date:
October 2022, and Ongoing

Region:

Project Funders

Northern California Water Agencies 

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Metropolitan Water District

Water Foundation 

Battery Powered (Past)

Fish Affected:

Project Description

Re-integrating floodplain food resources to feed the river ecosystem. In 2017, CalTrout launched the Fish Food on Floodplain Farm Fields (Fish Food) project with goals to better understand aquatic food web productivity on managed floodplains, and to work with farmers and water suppliers to pioneer new practices aimed at reintegrating floodplain food sources back into the greater Sacramento Valley aquatic ecosystem in the hopes that it will recover fish and wildlife populations. In simple terms, we are putting the fish food made on the floodplain back into the river where it belongs and where it will help rebuild robust populations of native fish.

CalTrout's Fish Food on Floodplain Farm Fields is using innovative solutions to reintegrate food from the floodplain back to the river. The program works with farmers and water suppliers to pioneer new practices to help recover fish and wildlife populations in the greater Sacramento Valley.

In its third year, the FFFFF initiative conducted its first landscape-scale effort to reactivate floodplain food webs by flooding over 5,000 acres of rice fields in the Sacramento Valley. Capitalizing on our research showing that floodplains produce food resources 150 times greater than in the river, we worked with our partners to grow food on the flooded farm fields and transfer those resources back to the river where fish can access them. Fish in the river at the floodplain outfall and up to a mile downstream grew 3-5 times faster relative to fish immediately upstream of the floodplain delivery point. This science-based approach to managing California’s resources demonstrates that with innovative management practices, there is potential to boost the depleted food resources in Central Valley rivers and help recover endangered fish populations. Now entering its fifth year, the project will expand to include multiple floodplain drainage cycles, an additional floodplain delivery point, and up to 15,000 acres of farm fields under floodplain management. We will continue to study the impacts of floodplain management on river ecosystems, and add more fish food hot spots that turn the food-scarce Sacramento River into a “string of pearls” of foraging habitat for juvenile fish.

This science-based approach to managing California's resources demonstrates that with innovative management practices, there is potential to boost the depleted food resources in Central Valley rivers and help recover endangered fish populations.

Project Partners:

“NOAA
CA Department of Fish & Wildlife
UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences
Northern California Water Agencies
State & Federal Contractors Water Agency
Reclamation District 108
Cal Marsh & Farms Ventures LLC
California Rice Commission
CA Department of Water Resources
Knaggs Ranch
Davis Ranches
Next Generation Foods
San Luis & Delta-Mendoza Water Authority
Montana Farms
Lundberg Rice”

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