The Sacramento Bypass Wildlife Area (along County Road 126, off River Road just north of the city of West Sacramento) is an excellent birding spot, with 197 species reported on eBird. This large bird list reflects the presence a strip of forest at the foot of the north levee of the bypass, plus wetlands that form during periodic flooding of the bypass. The site also draws birds by being next to and merging with the Yolo Bypass, which holds the top two birding spots in Yolo County.
If you visited the area recently, you surely noticed the large collection of earth-moving equipment, busily living up to its name. The project (described in this column in December 2018) aims to make more room for floodwater from the Sacramento River by widening the bypass–specifically, moving the north levee fifteen hundred feet to the north and moving the east levee of the Yolo Bypass fifteen hundred feet to the east. County Roads 124 and 126 will relocate to the new, wider levees. Recreational access to the strip of forest at the edge of the Sacramento Bypass will remain as is.
Sections of the current Yolo Bypass levee will be removed, while others will remain intact as a series of ridges that will become islands when the bypass floods. The intent is for the islands to serve as refuges for animals, including birds, that are forced out by rising water. As I understand it, the Sacramento Bypass levee will be removed, the irrigation supply ditch alongside the strip of forest will be abandoned, and a new ditch (for fish passage) installed closer to the new levee. Eighteen acres of forest will be planted near the existing trees.
The levee project has about two more years of construction. Relocation of the ditch, along with lengthening of the weir at the east end of the Sacramento Bypass, will take place after that.
Michael Perrone, YAS Conservation Chair