Ash Creek Wildlife Area


Ash Creek is one of the most remote, least improved, and most pristine of all of CDFW's Wildlife Areas. Located in the heart of Big Valley, these approximately 14,400 acres preserve freshwater wetlands created by the seasonal flow of six streams, including Ash Creek. In addition to 3,000 acres of natural wetlands, other natural communities include vernal pools and upland sagebrush. Among the mammals seen here are pronghorn antelope, beaver, and bobcat. Bird species include numerous waterfowl species, sandhill cranes, falcons, sage grouse, short-eared owls, and bald eagles.

For more information, call the area at (530) 294-5824 or the Northern Region Redding office at (530) 225-2300.

Recreational Opportunities

fishing Waterfowl Hunting Pheasant Hunting camping Restrooms ildlife Viewing Wildlife Viewing Information Kiosk or Visitor Center

Activities: fishing, hunting, camping, wildlife viewing, hiking, and birdwatching

Passes: A CDFW Lands Pass must be in possession by each visitor who is 16 years of age or older, however, visitors who are in possession of a valid California hunting or fishing license in their name are exempt from this requirement. Lands passes may be purchased on-line, by phone at (800) 565-1458, or in-person at locations wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Lands passes cannot be substituted for Hunting Passes, which are required for adult hunters on Type-A and Type-B wildlife areas.
School and organized youth groups, including accompanying adults, are exempt from the lands pass requirement, but should contact the area to schedule a field trip at least two weeks in advance.

Facilities: restrooms, informational kiosk

Ash Creek Birding Checklist (PDF)

NOTE: Visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all regulations pertaining to the use of Department lands.

Refer to the Public Uses on State and Federal Lands section of the Waterfowl, Upland Game, and Public Use Regulations (PDF) booklet for both statewide and property-specific regulations.

no drones icon
You may not operate a drone on CDFW Lands without a Special Use Permit.

Hunting Opportunities

Type B: Ash Creek Wildlife Area requires adult hunters to purchase a Type A or B season hunting pass in advance for waterfowl and pheasant hunting for all authorized shoot days of the season. Reservations are required for the opening weekend of waterfowl season for Type B wildlife areas and may be required for the opening of pheasant season.

Waterfowl, coots, moorhens, doves, snipe, and pheasants may be present. Pronghorn antelope may be taken during junior hunts only.

ATTENTION WATERFOWL HUNTERS: August 2015 update: The 285 acres of wetlands that were re-leveled and re-contoured in 2014 have produced excellent stands of swamp timothy and smartweed. Tule patches are coming in and will provide additional cover in the coming years. These projects have increased the total managed wetland acreage by 30%, improved water conservation and provide additional hunting opportunities. The CWA ponds were restored this summer increasing the pond sizes and improved water conservation. Vegetation will be limited in these ponds for the 2015/2016 waterfowl season.

Surface water is limited due to the drought for fall flood up but all the deep wells are currently running to provide as much habitat as possible. Most of the deep water ponds in the restoration area still have some water left in them.

The deep water ponds (map available (PDF)) that were excavated during the restoration project vary in size from less than 1 acre to several acres. Early in the waterfowl season these new ponds are dependent on ground water and surface flows to fill. When completely full, they will average in depth from 4-7 feet and the side slopes entering the ponds may be steep in some areas. The use of a retrieving dog is highly recommended.

Elkins Lane is open at this time but subject to closure when road becomes flooded.

Due to changing water conditions, please contact the wildlife area at (530) 294-5824 for current conditions.

Area History

Big Valley is a farming region with major emphasis on the production of alfalfa, native meadow hay, cereal grains, and livestock. Cereal grains were raised in greater acreages in the past. Agricultural use began by 1900, and since then the land has been managed similarly to other lands in Big Valley. These practices were mostly compatible with wildlife.

In the 1980s, livestock grazing was dramatically increased on the former ranch and plans were developed to drain and farm the tule marsh. The planned activities would be extremely detrimental to the wetlands and associated wildlife. Fortunately, the land was purchased by the Department. The property was designated as a wildlife area by the Fish and Game Commission in 1986.

Restoration Projects

The Ash Creek Wildlife Area underwent a major 3,485 acre wetland restoration project in 2014 in three phases. The project resulted in improved stream channel conditions, cooler water temperatures and improved angling opportunities. Ash Creek and its associated floodplain were degraded due to channel incision and flood flows rarely accessing the floodplain. The degradation caused the wet meadow vegetation to be replaced with upland grassland and sagebrush type habitats. A proven restoration technique known as "pond and plug" was used to restore the natural form and function of the stream channels and floodplain. Approximately 80 "ponds" were excavated creating 150 acres of additional wetlands. The excavated material was then be used to "plug" the incised channels.

In addition to the wetland restoration project, a new pipeline has been installed on the north side west of Elkins Ln. and new well has been completed to provide additional water for early fall flood up.

Map of Ash Creek WA - click to enlarge in new window
Click to enlarge


Northern Region (Region 1)

Lassen and Modoc Counties

Highway 299, 4 miles northeast of Bieber

Access: From Highway 299 at the town of Bieber take Bieber Lookout Road north; from Highway 299 at the town of Adin take Lookout Road west.

CDFW Lands Viewer