With the growing season transitioning from fall to winter here in the flood plains of northern California, birds of all kinds have begun to stop here on their migratory route. Like the birds, I have landed, seeking nourishment. This refuge is called the Vic Fazio Wildlife Area, a subset of the Sacramento River floodplain. These lands are being restored from their previous use as farmland into a managed wildlife area. This restoration came about in 1997 from the persistence of concerned citizens who formed the Yolo Basin Foundation in 1990, a group with diverse backgrounds that included agriculture and wildlife conservation as well as government and business interests. They formed partnerships with other organizations, creating a public/private enterprise that has set aside 16,000 acres that are continually being restored to a more natural state, providing various ecologies for the wildlife and us to enjoy. From warblers to geese they are beginning to blanket these restored ecosystems that include; permanent wetlands, seasonal wetlands, riparian forests, and grasslands. The California Department of Fish and Game is responsible for managing these acres and work in partnership with the Yolo Basin Foundation. Groundwater recharge, wildlife habitat, water quality improvement and flood control are the benefits created by this restoration not to mention the opportunities for education, research and recreation which continue to draw in supporters.
As I walk through the mudflats and up through the seasonal wetlands with the wind in my face and redwing blackbirds congregating in the cattails I am reminded that this is autumn, a time of transition. Hopefully, we can reflect on our own transition towards this healthier way of life… as Aldo Leopold put it, “When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” I am grateful for the abundance of vision and hard work that it took and is taking to nurture this community and I will take my fill from the bounty that surrounds me.