Randy Riviere
Wildlife Biologist, Tri Valley Growers
Los Banos, California

Randy Riviere, the award winner in the business category, is the wildlife biologist and production manager at Tri Valley Growers (TVG) Volta Plant in Los Banos, California. Riviere has a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana and is working toward a doctoral degree in wildlife management with an emphasis on the challenges and ramifications of integrating wildlife management into an industrial setting.

He has published several articles on the integration of wildlife management with food processing wastewater systems. He is chair of the San Joaquin Valley Agriculture and Wildlife Enhancement Committee, a Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture, through which he has worked with farmers in an effort to reestablish waterfowl populations to meet the objectives of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. He is associate director of the California Waterfowl Association and supervises waterfowl research crews in the San Joaquin Valley. He also assists in the various outreach efforts with private landowners.

TVG’s Volta Plant is located within the San Joaquin Valley Grasslands and the Pacific Flyway, an area critical to wintering waterfowl and many other types of wildlife. A full 95% of these wetlands have been lost to farming and other human activities. Therefore, every scrap that can be retained is of critical importance.

TVG processes tomato paste at this facility, consisting of approximately 1,000 acres, 300 of which are set aside permanently for wintering and breeding waterfowl and other wildlife. The remaining acreage houses the processing plant and areas set aside for water applied directly to the land surface via flood irrigation. The acidic nature of the wastewater is gradually changing the alkaline soils native to the area.

Under Riviere’s supervision in the fall of 1989, TVG began introducing various grass regimes to provide dense nesting cover for waterfowl and pheasants in the upland fields associated with the wastewater program. The industrial objective was to yield economic benefits by increasing the wastewater disposal capacity of the facility, and the environmental objective was to provide improved wildlife habitat. Research suggested that residual cover was very important to early nesting waterfowl and as a result careful monitoring of the grasses became an essential part of the program. Both the environmental and the industrial objectives have been accomplished. The nesting success has markedly improved each year along with the wastewater evapotranspiration. The project underscores the notion that industry and conservation can exist side by side with bothbsides receiving benefits.

Riviere worked closely with the California Waterfowl Association to use radio transmitters to monitor ducks. The transmitters were surgically implemented in the spring of 1992 to monitor the nesting ducks. The knowledge and information gained from this experiment could be useful in expanding the scope of the project to the entire grasslands area.

Riviere and his project have received seven awards from groups and organizations representing a wide range of interests. He has conducted presentations at several public events, including a Marsh Management Workshop for the California Waterfowl Association; a workshop entitled “Managing Farmland to Bring Back Game Birds and Wildlife to the Central Valley” for the Yolo County Resource Conservation District; and events sponsored by the Agricultural Council of California, Audubon Society, Sierra Club, California Association of Family Farmers, Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture, Modesto Engineers Club, and Tri Valley Growers.

— Irene Potter, Stanislaw Audubon, Modesto, California