(Author’s note: The Madeline Plains Waterfowl Management Area was located two miles south of the small town of Madeline. In this article “Madeline Plains” refers to the waterfowl management area—not the town. This avoids the extended use of an additional acronym (MPWMA) and hopefully allows for more pleasurable reading.)
Madeline Plains shared many similarities with the HLWMA. Madeline Plains was also located in Lassen County, approximately 70 miles north of Honey Lake. The terrain was considerably more rugged and being farther from the county seat of Susanville, Madeline Plains was more isolated (see Figure 11).
Like Honey Lake, Madeline Plains was an important waterfowl nesting site. Nearly all of the land comprising the management area was acquired from a George Williams in 1945 and 1946. In four separate transactions, 4,776 acres were purchased as Pittman-Robertson projects for a total of $43,913.20. In 1949 two adjacent pieces of property totaling 400 acres were purchased and merged with the area (DFG Game Management Branch Handbook, 1954).
Although roughly the same size as the HLWMA, a much smaller percentage of the acreage at Madeline Plains was able to support cereal grain crops—320 acres vs. 880. This disappointment can be attributed to several factors including a harsher climate, inferior soil quality and a lack of an adequate water supply.
When Madeline Plains was opened to public hunting in 1945-46 it was considered a poor place to hunt (Kozlik, 1955). Eight hundred acres of ponds were added, the same as at the HLWMA, but Madeline Plains always lagged far behind in the number of hunters checked. During the 1950-51 season only 16 hunters used Madeline Plains, as compared to 1,003 for the HLWMA. For 1952-53, it was 473 as compared to 3,677. The number of hunters using Madeline Plains peaked during the 1953-54 season at 1,064 (Kozlik, 1955) and then went into a decline with the Lassen County economy.
In 1955 the $2 daily hunting fee was also imposed at Madeline Plains. Combined with the high unemployment, it had the drastic effect of reducing the number of hunters using the area from 918 during the 1954-55 season to only 250 the next season (44th Biennial Report for the Years 1954—56).
Following the 1955-56 season, two men representing the sportsmen of Lassen County made a plea to the California Fish and Game Commission. Their aim was to reduce the financial burden on local residents wishing to hunt on the two state waterfowl management areas. According to the minutes of the commission meeting of June 29, 1956: “Mr. Harp [Commission Secretary], has recorded telegrams from A.U. Zimmerman, President of the Lassen Fin and Antler Club, Susanville, and from James H. Peterson, Director of the Chester-Almanor Sportsman Club, recommending a $5.00 seasonal charge or a $2.00 daily charge for [the] Honey Lake and Madeline Plains areas.”
The $5.00 seasonal charge would provide a savings for hunters using the areas more than two days during the season. The minutes continued, “Mr. [Dan] Gladding [Chief of Game Management for the DFG] said the department would study the matter before the August meeting at which time it would make its recommendation to the commission.”