Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area

Notice: The Little Dry Creek and Howard Slough units are open; staff are working on damage from flooding.


The Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area is approximately 9,600 acres and consists of three units: Llano Seco, Howard Slough, and Little Dry Creek. It is located within the Butte Basin, a low-lying area extending from the Sacramento River south and east to the Butte Creek drainage and southward to include the Butte Sink.

Historically, this basin consisted of a braided network of sloughs, channels, and oxbows resulting from the meanderings of the Sacramento River and Butte Creek, and comprised a significant portion of the wetland habitat available for wintering migratory birds. Today it is still considered one of the finest wetland habitat complexes in North America. The Wildlife Area was created to protect and/or restore some of these historical wetlands.

For more information, call the area at (530) 982-2169 or the North Central Region's Rancho Cordova office at (916) 358-2900.

Recreational Opportunities

Fishing Wildlife Viewing Deer Hunting Waterfowl Hunting Pheasant Hunting Hunting with Shotguns Disabled Access - call for details

During the rainy season the Gridley Colusa Hwy may be periodically closed due to flooding and prevent access to the Little Dry Creek Unit of the wildlife area. Please check local road conditions prior to your visit or call the office, (530) 982-2169, for current closure information.

Please check the Wildlife Area Closure Alerts link below for further information.

Activities: fishing, wildlife viewing, bird watching, sightseeing, and hunting

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.

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset. The Wildlife Area is open New Year's Day and closed on Christmas when that day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Wednesday.

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 A: Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area including the Howard Slough Unit, Little Dry Creek Unit, and Llano Seco Unit have restricted hunter access during waterfowl and pheasant hunting seasons. Adult hunters are required to purchase a Type A hunting pass in advance in order to exchange for an entry permit.

Daily Hunter Capacity

  • Howard Slough: up to 81 adults, with refills.
  • Llano Seco: total of 78 hunters, with refills.
  • Little Dry Creek: up to 96 adults, with refills in free roam only.

At least one hunting blind for the mobility impaired is available on each unit. A Department of Motor Vehicles ID card is required to use the blind.

Authorized game includes deer, rabbits, waterfowl, coots, moorhens, snipe, dove, pheasants, and fall turkeys. (Fall turkey is open annually at the regional manager's discretion. Please check with wildlife area staff prior to fall turkey season.)

ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to changing weather, water availability and management needs, the flood up schedule may change at any time.

Spring Turkey Hunting Maps:

Waterfowl Hunting Maps and Report:

Dove Hunting Maps:

*Special Closure: Dove hunting on the Little Dry Creek Unit is only allowed east of Little Dry Creek.*

No high shooting or skyscraping - give decoy hunters a wide berth. Unsportsmanlike conduct will not be tolerated.

Apprentice Deer Hunting Map:

Preseason Hunter Outreach:

Hunt Permits

Each area fills the quota in this order: reservations, lottery, then first-come, first-served. If a lottery number is called and the hunter(s) fail to show at the check station window, they will be removed from the list. If they show after their number has been called, and still wish to hunt, they will be placed at the bottom of the first-come, first-served list.

Reservations: For information on applying for waterfowl reservation drawings, refer to Reservations & Passes on the Waterfowl Hunting page.

Lotteries: Lotteries are held at all three units. The lottery for both Howard Slough and Little Dry Creek units is held the night before each hunt date. Check station personnel open the station to conduct the lottery. To participate, a hunter must be present with their hunting licenses when the lottery card is filled out. An individual’s name may only appear in one lottery drawing per day. Numbers are issued between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and a computer is used to randomly determine the order applicants are placed on the list. The station then closes until the next morning, two and one-half hours before shoot time.

The process at Llano Seco unit is the same, however lottery numbers are issued beginning at 4:00 a.m. on the hunt day, and the order is compiled at 4:30 a.m.

First-come, First-served: First-come, first-served (sweat line) lists are established the morning of each hunt day. Hunters that do not have a reservation, and do not participate in the lottery, can ask to be placed on this list.

All check stations close to entry at 3:00 p.m.

All hunters must carry their daily permit in the field. Permits must be returned to the check station and hunting results reported before leaving area.

Area History

Over time the Butte Sink ecosystem has been profoundly altered by human activity. Beginning in the mid 1800’s the adverse effects of hydraulic mining were prevalent, and tremendous accumulation of sediment in rivers and on floodplains occurred downstream of the mining. The demand for additional fertile land led to the implementation of large-scale reclamation and flood control projects to protect and enhance private lowlands.

More recently, the majority of lands adjacent to the Butte Sink were developed for grazing and farming. Prior to acquisition by the Department in 1988, some lands that are now within the boundaries of the wildlife area were converted from seasonal wetlands with riparian corridors to agricultural lands predominately for commercial rice production. The Department’s goals were to restore habitat for wetland-dependent species and to develop riparian habitat corridors along Butte Creek. The property was designated as a wildlife area by the Fish and Game Commission in 1991.

Related Documents

Map of Upper Butte Basin WA location - click to enlarge in new window
Click to enlarge


North Central Region (Region 2)

Butte & Glenn Counties

headquarters is located approximately 11 miles west of Highway 99 on Highway 162


Llano Seco: From Highway 99 north of Gridley, take Highway 162 west approximately 13 miles to Z Road. Go north on Z Road approximately 7 miles. When Z Road crosses into Butte County, it becomes Seven Mile Lane. The check station is located approximately 100 yards north of the intersection of Seven Mile Lane and Nelson Road.

Howard Slough: The unit straddles Highway 162. The check station is one mile north of Highway 162 on Zz Road.

Little Dry Creek: The unit is between the Biggs-Afton Road and the Gridley-Colusa Highway. Access to the check station is off the Colusa-Gridley Highway approximately 11 miles west of Gridley.

Please observe all road closed signs, drive slowly, and with caution. Park at designated parking lots.

Unit Maps:

CDFW Lands Viewer