FALL RIVER MILLS – PG&E soon will start work to improve approximately 475 acres of wetland habitat in the McArthur Swamp near Big Lake in northeastern Shasta County.
The project was initiated in cooperation with the California Waterfowl Association (CWA) and is part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s license conditions for PG&E’s Pit 1 hydroelectric project.
“PG&E is excited about this project and is looking forward to the benefits it will have on waterfowl, as well as other bird and mammal species that rely on McArthur Swamp and the Fall River Valley,” said Ruth Sundermeyer, a senior aquatic biologist with PG&E.
PG&E’s contractor will begin construction in late September on a network of meandering swales – or gently sloped depressions – within Ash Field, Rat Farm Pond and Hollenbeak Swamp. The swales will distribute water to improve both wintering and nesting habitat.
Elevated mounds or loafing islands to provide nesting and escape cover for various bird species also will be constructed throughout the project area. Using a portable pump system that was approved by state and federal agencies, the swales will be seasonally flooded with water from Big Lake.
“The McArthur Swamp is in an area known as SONEC (Southern Oregon and Northeastern California) – a critically important breeding and staging area for waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway,” said Jake Messerli, vice president of conservation programs at CWA. “California Waterfowl is happy to partner with PG&E and appreciates their efforts to improve habitat conditions in the Fall River Valley. California Waterfowl’s partnership with PG&E has facilitated the enhancement of thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat throughout Northeastern California, including Big Valley, Modoc Plateau, Shasta Valley and the Klamath Basin.”
The restoration effort was designed to improve the quality and function of wetland habitat, and in turn will recharge ground water resources, improve wildlife and waterfowl habitat, and foster the existing cattle grazing regime that currently occurs on PG&E’s lands within the McArthur Swamp.
Construction is scheduled to be completed by about late October, prior to the onset of winter. The late September start date ensures no nesting bird species that are state-threatened or of special concern will be impacted.