To help plants and wildlife, refuge staff uses a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance plant and wildlife values. Refuge staff carefully consider any management techniques and employ them in varying degrees according to the situation.
The lands that make up the Don Edwards Refuge have been significantly altered over the last 200 years. Its location in the midst of a large populace can pose several challenges. The refuge is actively engaged in several management activities to ensure habitat is healthy and to preserve species diversity. Current activities focus on endangered species and migratory birds surveys; wildlife habitat restoration and enhancement; grassland and vernal pool management; non-native species control; environmental education; interpretation; and offering opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, and photography.
Because of native habitat loss over the last 200 years, one of the priorities of the refuge is to restore and enhance habitat. Wetlands restoration will provide key habitat for endangered species and other native plant and wildlife species. The refuge is currently involved with the largest tidal wetland restoration on the West Coast named the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. This project will convert 15,100 acres of former industrial salt ponds owned by the refuge and the state of California to a mix of tidal marsh, mudflat, managed pond, open water, and other wetland habitats. Other restoration projects include Bair Island Restoration Project and New Chicago Marsh Restoration Project.
Threatened and endangered species are monitored regularly to track any changes from year to year, and to generate population estimates. Sensitive species monitored on the Don Edwards Refuge are the endangered Ridgway's Rail (formerly the California Clapper Rail), salt marsh harvest mouse, vernal pool tadpole shrimp, Contra Costa goldfields, and the threatened Western Snowy Plover and California Tiger Salamander. Other non-listed species are monitored as result of these surveys. Migratory bird surveys are conducted annually to determine avian diversity and abundance, and fish and sub-tidal invertebrate surveys are conducted in newly restored tidal habitats as part of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project.
There are other management activities that are particularly important due to the refuge's urban setting. These management activities include weed control, predator management for the protection of threatened and endangered species, mosquito management, and fire prevention. There is also a large environmental education and interpretive program at the Don Edwards Refuge that the communities surrounding the refuge can enjoy. Other types of wildlife-oriented programming are also offered and designed to encourage individuals to learn and appreciate the natural environment in which they live.
More information about specific refuge management can be found in the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan.
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Barn Swallows arrive at the refuge in April and May in great numbers to breed. Their acrobatic antics brings joy to many and they also provide mosquito control naturally.