Next time you drive east on Interstate 80, before you cross the Yolo Causeway, be sure to look for the brand-new sign that was installed on May 22, 2020. The sign displays the logos of the many Yolo Basin partners who worked together towards the establishment of the Vic Fazio Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. The original sign was destroyed during a big wind storm in the winter of 2017. “Yolo Basin Foundation is pleased to be able to honor former Congressman Vic Fazio by installing the new sign. His legacy lives on through the thousands of people who visit the 16,800-acre Vic Fazio Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area each year and the hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife that call it home,” stated Bill Ziebron, Yolo Basin Foundation Board Chair.
Ducks Unlimited provided the new sign design. Manufacture and installation of the sign was made possible through funding from California Department of Water Resources, California State Water Contractors Association, and Kathy Sawyer, wife of Vic Fazio.
Establishing the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area was achieved through a unique partnership of many private and public entities. In 1990, Yolo Basin Foundation was founded as a community based organization to assist in the establishment of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. Congressman Vic Fazio was instrumental in establishing the Yolo Basin Wetlands Project, a project of the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), in the early 1990s. The ACOE did the initial planning and design of the wetlands. Ducks Unlimited was contracted for construction. In 1991, the original 3,700 acres was purchased for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife by the Wildlife Conservation Board. In 1995, construction began and in November of 1997, President Bill Clinton dedicated and transferred the management of the land from the Army Corps of Engineers to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. The project was hailed as a national model for meeting the challenge of “trying to improve our economy and lift our standard of living while improving, not diminishing, our environment.”
Since 1997, two additional units have been purchased which include upland and vernal pool habitat and the wildlife area has both rice farming and grazing leases. Yolo Basin Foundation continues as the communication link between many people and organizations involved in creating wetlands and managing the land in the Yolo Bypass. The Foundation facilitates the Yolo Bypass Working Group, which provides a focused opportunity for farmers, landowners and agencies within the Yolo Bypass to share information on Bypass related issues.
The Foundation also offers environmental education experiences about wetlands and wildlife to nearly 12,000 people annually. The Foundation works towards expanding public appreciation and stewardship of wetlands and wildlife in the Yolo Basin through education and innovative partnerships, with a focus on the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area between Davis and Sacramento.
Photo credit: Robert W. Floerke