The Sacramento Valley grows about 95 percent of the state’s rice. In the offseason, when rice fields are flooded to decompose the straw, it produces wetlands for birds and a different kind of crop for a different kind of diner: bugs for salmon.

In a new video, “The New Way Forward: Wetlands,” Jacob Montgomery of nonprofit CalTrout looks closely at a water sample full of tiny crustaceans, or bugs, from a flooded rice field and says, “That’s like prime rib for fish food.”

The video shows how scientists, farmers and conservationists are working together in Yolo County’s rice fields to manage lands in a way that benefits fish, birds and people. The concept could be a model for other projects so that more acres of land hold multiple benefits.

“We can retime the way things have been to benefit the whole ecosystem,” said Roger Cornwell, general manager of River Garden Farms. “I don’t see any losers when we do it this way.”

The video, by Franklin Pictures, also features the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, National Audubon Society, and Reclamation District 108.

Kat Kerlin is an environmental science writer and media relations specialist at UC Davis. She’s the editor of the Science & Climate website and its “What Can I Do About Climate Change?” blog. @UCDavis_Kerlin

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