Cultivated Ecologies is an in-progress interdisciplinary video and essay project that examines the extensively reconfigured network of wetland refuges scattered across California’s great Central Valley. Though now drastically diminished and mostly disconnected, these wetlands remain extremely ecologically significant, and have been carefully designed to more-or-less successfully coexist amid one of our planet’s most intensively cultivated and astonishingly productive agricultural regions.
The Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, the Fremont Weir Wildlife Area, and the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area are opportunistically sited within the Sacramento Valley’s historic system of flood control levees and bypass channels—a network devised to divert huge volumes of water around this region’s cities and farmland and onward to the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. Refuge wildlife profits from this massive infrastructure’s occasional and epic deluges, but this wilderness must also be carefully managed so as not to impede the critical work of this colossal conveyance facility. This entire system—both the natural and anthropic components alike—will also play an increasingly critical role in mitigating the effects of future climate-driven flooding. The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (in particular) has also become a model of cooperation between habitat preservation and agricultural operations, and between government agencies and citizen scientists.
© 2017: Cynthia Hooper (2-minute excerpt of a 10-minute in-progress video)