Last updated: February 7, 2009
Humboldt Bay NWR
In 1971, the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve precious habitat for the great diversity of birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and plants that occur in the Humboldt Bay area. The refuge has several different units totaling almost 4,000 acres. These units consist of a mosaic of mudflats, estuarine eelgrass meadows, saltmarsh, brackish marsh, seasonally flooded freshwater wetlands, riparian wetlands, streams, coastal dunes, and forest. These habitats support over 316 species of birds and 40 species of mammals. The refuge also provides habitat for approximately 100 species of fish and marine invertebrates, many of which contribute to sport and commercial fisheries, including steelhead, coho and chinook salmon, and Dungeness crab.
History of Humboldt Bay
European-American pioneers arrived in the late 1800s and rapidly began to alter the landscape. Over the last 120 years, the bay has been significantly changed by diking, filling, dredging, sedimentation from upstream logging, oyster culture, and development. Vast expanses of wetlands were diked and drained to create lands for dairies, livestock, and farms.
Once considered useless swamps, wetlands are now recognized as extremely valuable and productive habitats. Wetlands help control flooding and erosion, filter pollution, conserve biodiversity, and provide open space and resources for fish, wildlife, and people.
Humboldt Bay historically sustained over 9,000 acres of saltmarsh. Now only about 900 acres remain.