Many changes to the visitor facilities are taking place this fall at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge). Most notably, a new viewing platform will be built with anticipation of the arrival of the waterfowl this fall.

Over the summer, Refuge staff assessed the conditions of the platform and noticed it did not meet current safety standards. Staff took swift action to begin the process of removing and building a new platform.

Steve Emmons, Refuge Manager, stated, “We realize the importance of the viewing platform to the visitors and the community. When families and groups visit the Refuge, one of the major attractions is the viewing platform with its panoramic view of the valley and thousands of waterfowl. We want to make sure this opportunity is able to continue this winter with minimal impact to the visitors and the wildlife.”

The old platform was removed in June. Construction of the new platform should begin in late September and be completed by mid-October. During the construction, a portion of the viewing platform parking area will be closed. The new platform will be similar shape and size having the three different viewing levels and will meet the current safety and accessibility standards.

Other visitor facility enhancements include resurfacing of the entrance road and parking areas and resealing a portion of the accessible Wetlands Walk trail to prevent weed growth. The two-mile, self-guided trail near the visitor center offers interpretive information about wildlife and wetlands. Another improvement is the replacement of Photography Blind #1 with a more spacious design. The two photography blinds, on the Refuge, are very popular with nature photographers who often capture close-ups of ducks, geese, and raptors. Steve Emmons, Refuge Manager, volunteered hundreds of hours designing and constructing the blinds.

Currently, the Refuge is flooding up for the winter and migrating birds are beginning to arrive. Northern pintails, white-fronted geese, and a wide variety of shorebirds are being seen along the auto tour. Later this fall, the Refuge will announce its winter visitor programs. For more information, visit the Refuge’s website at or call (530) 934-2801.

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