Description - Colusa NWR is part of the Sacramento NWR Complex located in the Sacramento Valley of northern California. The Refuge consists of over 4,500 acres in Colusa County.
- Colusa NWR is part of the Sacramento NWR Complex located in the Sacramento Valley of northern California. The Refuge consists of over 4,500 acres comprised of seasonal marsh, permanent ponds, watergrass, and uplands.
The refuge was established in 1945 under the Authority of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lea Act. The Lea Act was passed to acquire habitat for migratory waterfowl and thereby alleviate severe crop losses experienced by rice growers.
Major objectives of the Refuge are: provide feeding and resting habitat for wintering waterfowl; provide habitat and manage for endangered, threatened or sensitive species; preserve a natural diversity and abundance of flora and fauna; alleviate crop depredation; and provide public use activities such as wildlife observation and hunting. The refuge is divided into 30 units, and wetlands comprise about 78% of the total acreage.
As wetlands of the Central Valley have been lost (95% over the past 100 years), the waterfowl resource has become increasingly dependent upon the refuges of the Sacramento Valley. The refuge typically supports wintering populations in excess of 200,000 ducks and 100,000 geese. As a result, the marsh management program is one of the most intensive in the refuge system.
Waterfowl are present September through March with peak populations occurring during December and January. Numerous birds and mammals are present year round.
Recreation - Public recreation activities include wildlife observation and photography on a 3-mile graveled automobile tour meandering through freshwater wetlands, or on a 1-mile Discovery Walk offering a place to stroll along a dense riparian slough and marsh. The self-guiding auto tour and walking trail are open sunrise to sunset, year round, with interpretive panels and pamphlets available at the kiosk. Hunting of ducks, geese, coots, snipe, and pheasants is permitted October through January on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays.
Climate - A generally warm, dry climate prevails in the Central Valley. It is hot in the summer, mid in the winter. In the Central Valley, precipitation falls mainly from October through April. Winter temperatures well below freezing produce frost, however, snow is very rare. Summer temperatures above 100 F are part of the normal pattern.
The refuge is situated about 70 mile north of the metropolitan area of Sacramento and a half mile west of the city of Colusa. From Colusa, drive a half mile west on Highway 20 to refuge entrance.