Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is located within the Yolo Bypass in Yolo County, California. The wildlife area is managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with the intent of restoring and managing a variety of wildlife habitats in the Yolo Basin, a natural basin in the north part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The creation of the wildlife area was spearheaded by the Yolo Basin Foundation.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Yolo Basin Foundation are the core partners in the operation of this unique community resource.  In 1999, the 3,700-acre restoration project was named the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area in honor of congressman Vic Fazio who lobbied hard for the funds needed to build the project. In 2001 the wildlife area expanded to over 16,000 acres with the acquisition of the Glide and Los Rios properties. These acquisitions included the 10,000-acre Tule Ranch, a working cattle ranch with extensive vernal pool areas.

• Easy to Locate? Yes
• Pet Friendly? Yes. Keep your pet in your vehicle or on a leash.
• Easy to Walk? Yes. There’s an auto-tour route and some walking trails with little to no elevation gain.
• Is there a Fee? No
• Are there Restrooms? Yes. There are a few porta-potties located at the turnouts along the auto-tour route.
• Is there Accessible Parking? Yes.
• Other Notes: Sometimes parts of the auto tour route are closed if there are still hunters on the property, or if the trails/route are flooded. The entire wildlife area is in the flood plain, so flooding happens regularly during the rainy season.

Guided tours of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area are available the second Saturday of each month from October to June.

See my FLICKR account for more albums of photos taken at this location throughout the last several years.

Approximately 1,800 acres (7.3 km2) of natural uplands occur in the southwest portion of the wildlife area. There are several vernal pools in this area that are home to such invertebrate species as tadpole shrimp, clam shrimp and the endangered conservancy fairy shrimp. Rare and endangered plants include Heckert’s pepperweed and Ferris’ alkali milk vetch. Grassland bird species in this area include grasshopper sparrow, Savannah sparrow and burrowing owl. Extensive fields of wildflowers occur in the spring on the Tule Ranch.

Riparian vegetation consists of willows, cottonwoods, black walnut and other tree species. Nesting species here include Swainson’s hawks, great-horned owls, wood ducks, tree swallows, and black phoebe. This habitat is very important for neo-tropical migrants such as blue grosbeak, ash-throated flycatchers, and a variety of warbler species. Most riparian vegetation is located along Putah Creek in the central part of the wildlife area.

Most wetland on the wildlife area are managed as seasonal wetlands. They go through an extensive dry period during the spring and summer months. Typically these ponds are drained April 1 to stimulate the germination of Swamp Timothy. They may receive a brief summer irrigation and then are flooded in September to provide wetland habitat for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.

The threatened giant garter snake is found in aquatic habitats in much of the wildlife area.

Permanent wetlands are flooded year round and tend to be deeper and have more emergent vegetation. These ponds provide important brood water for resident aquatic birds such as mallards, common moorhens and pied-billed grebes. They also provide drinking water for wildlife as well as relief from intense summer heat. This habitat is used extensively for roosting by black-crowned night herons, egrets, and white-faced ibis. The giant garter snake also occurs in this habitat.

Upland habitats are used extensively by ground nesting birds such northern harriers, western meadowlarks, mallards and ring-necked pheasant. Vegetation is typically dominated by annual rye grass, curly dock and wild sunflower. Rodent populations in these areas provide prey for large numbers of wintering birds of prey.

How to Get There:

  • From Sacramento
  • Take Highway I-80 West toward the City of Davis
  • Take EXIT 78 toward County Road 32-A /East Chiles Road
  • Turn RIGHT on County Road 32A
  • Continue onto East Chiles Road
  • Turn LEFT onto Levee Road and drive up onto the levee.
  • Follow the gravel road to the auto tour route and trails.

Address: 45211 Co Rd 32B, Davis, CA 95618 [office]
Phone: (916) 445-0411
Website: https://wildlife.ca.gov/lands/places-to-visit/yolo-bypass-wa

Travels of a Certified California Naturalist

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