By Drew Bollea

YOLO COUNTY (CBS13) — If you live in the Sacramento region, then you’ve probably driven by the Yolo Basin off I-80.

It’s 16,000 acres of wetlands between Davis and Sacramento.

“It’s just an amazing, beautiful place,” said Ricky Bloom.

He comes here several times a month and photographs the more than 200 species of birds in the area.

“I’ve never seen so many birds in my life when I came out here,” said Bloom.

“You get a really good variety of birds depending on what time of the year that you’re out here,” said Fred Oakes, another visitor to the Yolo Basin.

Oakes says the Yolo Basin is a gem that gets thousands of visitors each year, which is why beginning Jan. 1, they’ll have to pay.

“These properties were carefully selected because of their popularity and heavy use,” said Peter Tira with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Yolo Basin will be one of 41 state properties that will require a Lands Pass to visit. Tira with the Department of Fish and Wildlife says they were tasked with finding a way to increase revenue.

There is a lot of work that goes into maintaining access to the wild areas. Yolo Basin operates on about a $1.2 million budget.

Beginning Jan. 1, a day pass will cost $4.32, and an annual pass is $24.33.

“Broaden the funding base of these properties beyond just hunters and anglers,” explained Tira.

Hunters and fishers already pay for permits and will be exempt from the lands pass, but bird watchers, hikers, and photographers will soon pay for access.

“This place is so worth it,” said Bloom.

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