Nesting Bird Habitat Incentive Program
The most common upland nesting waterfowl species in California are mallards, gadwall, and cinnamon teal. These three species comprise a large portion of the annual hunter harvest during the California waterfowl season. Specifically, 60% of mallards, 49% of gadwall, and 53% of cinnamon teal that are harvested in California, breed or were born within the state. This is concerning because the Central Valley Joint Venture (CVJV) estimates that all of these species are experiencing local population declines and are below their long-term average. Throughout the state mallards are down 44%, gadwall are down 19%, and cinnamon teal are down 42%. Sacramento Valley population declines have been more severe with mallard numbers down 63%, gadwall down 30%, and cinnamon teal down 56%. Ring-necked pheasants, another upland nesting bird and a popular game bird within California, have also experienced substantial population declines. The loss of quality upland nesting habitat is listed within the CVJV 2020 Implementation Plan as one of the major contributions to these population level declines. Pollinators have also been in decline across much of the United States with some species experiencing very significant reductions in population estimates and range. In California, monarch numbers have declined by over 90% and many bumble bee species have seen reductions of 20% - 84% depending on the species.
To address these declines in local breeding waterfowl numbers and ring-necked pheasants, Assembly Bill (AB) 2697 established the Nesting Bird Habitat Incentive Program (NBHIP; Section 3480, Fish and Game Code) in 2018. The program was not funded until the passing of AB 614 in October 2021, which created an additional surcharge of $10 for the upland game bird hunting validation and state duck hunting validation. The NBHIP is designed to provide economic incentives to encourage landowners to cultivate or retain upland cover such as cover crops, cereal grains, grasses, forbs, and pollinator plants for the benefit of nesting waterfowl, game birds and pollinators. Habitat projects funded by NBHIP will include both annual enhancements and long-term habitat projects. At minimum, enrolled landowners will be required to leave the upland cover habitat unmanipulated (e.g., no discing, spraying herbicides, mowing, chopping, or rolling of vegetation) from April 1 – July 15.
Landowners or managers interested in the program should contact Luke Matthews