About the Butte Sink Wildlife Management Area

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The Butte Sink Wildlife Management Area is part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  It is located west of the Sutter Buttes and east of the Sacramento River in Butte, Colusa, and Sutter counties.  It consists primarily of conservation easements on privately-owned wetlands, but also includes on 733 acre fee-title property known as the Butte Sink Unit.

The Butte Sink Wildlife Management area was established in 1979 with the primary purpose of preserving native wetland habitat to perpetuate the migratory waterfowl resource in the Central Valley and the Pacific Flyway.  It has an acquisition boundary which includes parts of Butte, Colusa and Sutter counties (click here to see a map).  It includes 32 conservation easements on approximately 10,311 acres of privately-owned wetlands, but also includes the 733 acre fee-title property known as the Butte Sink Unit.


Managed wetlands comprise the majority of the WMA and consist primarily of seasonal wetlands with fewer semi-permanent and permanent wetlands.  The wetlands occur in a floodplain and are characterized by a strong riparian forest and emergent vegetation component.  Butte Creek and its tributaries meander through the WMA providing a water source for many of the wetlands.  The Butte Sink WMA represents the largest contiguous block of wetlands in the Sacramento Valley and typically supports up to 2 million wintering waterfowl and large numbers of the State-listed as threatened greater sandhill crane.  These wetlands also support significant populations of breeding herons, egrets, and other waterbirds.  Butte Creek and its associated wetlands also support anadromous fish, including federally threatened spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead.


The Butte Sink Unit also supports large populations of wintering waterfowl, with peak populations historically reaching up to one million birds.  Because the easement properties of the Butte Sink WMA are under private ownership, public access is not permitted; due to its isolated location and difficult access, the Butte Sink Unit is closed to public use.