The Merced National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 10,258 acres of wetlands, native grasslands, vernal pools, and riparian areas. It was established in 1951 under the Lea Act to attract wintering waterfowl away from adjacent farmland where foraging ducks and geese were causing extensive damage to crops. The refuge hosts the largest wintering populations of lesser sandhill cranes and Ross’ geese along the Pacific Flyway. Each fall approximately 20,000 cranes and 60,000 arctic nesting geese terminate their annual migrations from Alaska and Canada to make the refuge home. Here they mingle with thousands of other visiting waterfowl and shorebirds to make the refuge a true winter phenomenon.