Nation’s largest irrigation district buys Yolo County ranch | SierraSun.com

Nation’s largest irrigation district buys Yolo County ranch

DAVIS, Calif. (AP) ” The nation’s largest irrigation district is buying 3,450 acres in southern Yolo County to restore wetlands and wildlife habitat and ease pressure on the state’s water system.

Westlands Water District is buying the ranch in the environmentally sensitive Yolo Bypass south of Davis for $12 million.

The district irrigates more than 600,000 acres of crops in the San Joaquin Valley. But its water supply is jeopardized by the decline of the threatened delta smelt.

By flooding the ranch and restoring smelt habitat, the district hopes to boost the number of fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and free up water for farmers.

The purchase pleased skeptical environmental groups, who say Westlands helped cause the Delta’s decline.