A sign at Sutter National Wildlife Refuge prohibits unauthorized access. The bridge in the background is in disrepair. Photo by queerbychoice. The Sutter National Wildlife Refuge is 2,591 acres of federally protected riparian forest, freshwater marsh, and valley grassland habitat, including vernal pools, permanent ponds, watergrass, and uplands. It is located south of Sutter and the Sutter Buttes, southwest of Yuba City and South Yuba City, northwest of Tudor, northeast of Cranmore, and southeast of Meridian. Over 80% of the refuge is located within the Sutter Bypass, which diverts flood waters from the Sacramento River between two large levees. During floods, much of the refuge can be under 12 feet of water or more.

Sutter National Wildlife Refuge has one of the most intensive marsh management programs in California's wildlife refuge system. It provides winter habitat for more than 200,000 ducks and 100,000 geese, as well as herons and many other birds. It has the largest colonies of white-faced ibis in the Central Valley. The waterfowl population peaks in February and March.

The refuge is divided into 20 units and is bisected by Hughes Road. Recreation activities include wildlife observation and photography from Hughes Road. Hunting of ducks, geese, coots, snipe, and pheasants is permitted October through January on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays.

About 60% of the waterfowl population in the Pacific Flyway and 20% of the waterfowl population in North America spend the winter in California's Central Valley.1 Because 95% of Central Valley wetlands have been drained or filled in over the past 100 years,2 native waterfowl have become increasingly dependent upon refuges such as this one.

The Sutter National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which also includes the Butte Sink National Wildlife Refuge, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, and Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge.


Bird species at the refuge include include the white-tailed kite, Cooper's hawk, Swainson's hawk, northern harrier, white-faced ibis, and yellow-billed cuckoo.

Other wildlife found at the refuge include the black-tailed deer, giant garter snake, and winter-run Chinook salmon.


Main Roads


Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex: Sutter National Wildlife Refuge California Department of Fish and Game: Sutter Bypass Wildlife Area Bird Checklists of the United States: Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex Wildernet.com: Sutter National Wildlife Refuge LASR.net: Sutter National Wildlife Refuge


1. Ducks Unlimited: Butte Basin NAWCA II: Butte Sink NWR Enhancement
2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Butte Sink Wildlife Management Area