Drought Forces Closure of Shasta Valley Wildlife Area to Waterfowl Hunting; Other Northeastern Waterfowl Properties Impacted by Water Shortages
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced that the Shasta Valley Wildlife Area in Siskiyou County will be closed to waterfowl hunting for the entirety of the 2021-22 season as a result of lost wetlands and waterfowl habitat due to drought conditions.
The Northeastern Zone waterfowl season runs from October 2, 2021, through January 12, 2022. The closure includes the preseason Northeastern Zone Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days scheduled for September 18-19, 2021, and the postseason Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days scheduled for January 15-16, 2022.
The 4,700-acre Shasta Valley Wildlife Area typically provides important seasonal wetlands for migrating waterfowl supplied by three reservoirs on the property. Two of those reservoirs – Steamboat Lake and Bass Lake – are completely dry and a third reservoir – Trout Lake – is at approximately 50 percent of capacity. Closing the wildlife area to all waterfowl hunting is necessary to protect the waterfowl using what limited habitat remains.
The Shasta Valley Wildlife Area will be open for upland game bird hunting for dove, quail, snipe and pheasant as regulations permit. Pheasant hunting is allowed only on Sundays during the season and will be by reservation only with no walk-ins, sweat line or refills. A Type A or B season pass is required for all non-junior hunters. Reservation applications for Sunday pheasant hunts are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website.
Waterfowl hunting opportunities will vary at other Northeastern Zone state and federal lands popular with duck and goose hunters. Hunters are strongly advised to call ahead in preparing for any Northeastern Zone waterfowl hunt. Other popular public waterfowl hunting areas in the Northeastern Zone include:
Ash Creek Wildlife Area
A bright spot among Northeastern Zone public hunting areas, Ash Creek expects its wetlands to be mostly flooded for waterfowl season due to its combination of spring-fed creeks and groundwater supplies. Reservations are required to hunt the opening weekend, October 2-3, along with a Type A or B season pass for all non-junior hunters. Reservation applications are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website. Ash Creek also will be open for the preseason Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days on a walk-in basis. No reservations or other check-in procedures required. (530) 294-5824.
Butte Valley Wildlife Area
A $50,000 drought relief grant has allowed Butte Valley to begin pumping groundwater to help flood its seasonal wetlands in time for the Northeastern Zone waterfowl opener. Butte Valley expects to have 600 or 700 acres flooded by opening day (compared to 500 wetland acres in 2020). Reservations are required to hunt opening weekend along with a Type A or B season pass for all non-junior hunters. Reservation applications are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website. Butte Valley also will be open for the preseason Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days on a walk-in basis. (530) 398-4627.
Honey Lake Wildlife Area
Another option for youth hunters, Honey Lake Wildlife Area will be open for the preseason Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days on a walk-in basis though hunters will find far fewer wetlands than in 2020-21. The Dakin Unit will be dry this upcoming season – though still open to dry field waterfowl hunting and upland game bird hunting. The Fleming Unit will see just about 30 percent of its seasonal wetlands flooded by the October 2 season opener. Reservations are required to hunt opening weekend. A Type A or Type B season pass is required of all non-junior hunters.. Reservation applications are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website. (530) 254-6644.
Willow Creek Wildlife Area
This 2,700-acre wildlife area north of Susanville in Lassen County expects 300 acres of huntable, flooded wetlands by the Northeastern Zone season opener October 2. Reservations are required to hunt opening weekend. A Type A or Type B season pass is required of all non-junior hunters. No preseason youth hunt will take place. Reservation applications are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website. (530) 254-6644.
Modoc National Wildlife Refuge
Lack of water has forced the cancellation of Modoc’s popular Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days September 18-19, which attracted young hunters and their families from throughout the state. The refuge’s season opener is uncertain. The refuge has drawn 50 hunters for opening weekend reservations – half its typical hunter quota. Those receiving reservations have been notified that the opener could be delayed or cancelled altogether depending on water and habitat conditions. Hunting is available on a walk-in basis after the opener. (530) 233-3572.
Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Once one of the nation’s premier waterfowl hunting destinations, the complex – consisting of the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge – is suffering through its second consecutive year of severe drought and water shortages resulting from numerous demands and competing interests within the Klamath Basin. The complex will be open for both the preseason Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days and the Northeastern Zone opener – but only for dry field hunting. Walk-ins welcome. No reservations required this season for either the youth weekend or the Northeastern Zone opening weekend. (458) 232-6123.
Steve Burton, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 340-0104
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858