Rice Fields may provide more Environmental Benefits

By Paul Buttner

Already providing vital habitat for millions of birds, Sacramento Valley rice fields look promising to help another part of our environment – salmon.

We’ve assembled a strong coalition of scientists and support to initiate a $1.4 million pilot project on salmon. We will test and refine rice field practices in hopes of someday using them to boost salmon populations. As part of this project, we will insert micro transmitters into young Chinook salmon to track their journey from winter-flooded rice fields all the way out the Golden Gate.

salmon swimming

Photo by Ken “Creekman” Davis

Here’s a look at work done in recent days to get pilot fields in Yolo County ready for this research.

It’s great to see the growing momentum for this project. Today, I will be participating in a panel discussion at the Association of California Water Agencies’ Fall Conference in San Diego, discussing getting the most of the water utilized in our region, including future salmon benefits.

We are partnering with the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences,
California Trout, and Northern California Water Association on the project. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has agreed to supply hatchery fish for this first season.

Matching funds are provided by a generous grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and a major contribution from Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC. Other valued contributing sponsors include:

    • S. D. Bechtel Jr Foundation
    • Valent
    • Almond Board of California
    • Corventa Agrosciences, Agricultural Division of DowDuPont
    • Agriform
    • AgriSource
    • Growers Ag Service
    • NovaSource
    • Conaway Ranch

Here’s a more detailed look at our pilot salmon program.


Paul Buttner is Manager of Environmental Affairs for the California Rice Commission.


Paul Buttner