Check out some fantastic images taken by local photographers, Ron LeValley, Andrea Pickart & David F. Thomson
The visitor center is a great place to stop and gather information before taking advantage of all of Humboldt Bay's visitor activities.
Learn More About the Visitor Center
Ma-le'l and Lanphere Dunes
Experience a diverse and dynamic coastal landscape of forests and salt marshes, sand dunes and beaches.
Humboldt Bay saltmarsh habitat has decreased by 90 percent. Fortunately, the Refuge is making it a priority to restore this unique habitat.
Spartina Invasion and Management
Humboldt Bay freshwater wetlands attract hundreds of species of migratory and resident birds.
Climate change has put a new face on conservation. After decades of following established paradigms, conservationists are being forced to reexamine some of the basic tenets of our field. Like coastal locations around the country and world, the Humboldt Bay area is and will continue to be impacted by effects of climate change, especially sea level rise (SLR). Models and predictions vary geographically but for the state of California, the conservative SLR estimate is 6” by 2030, 12” by 2050, and 36” by 2100. The CA Coastal Commission requires projects to assess impacts from a minimum SLR of 3’ and a maximum of 6’ by 2100, the rest of the California Resource Agencies use 55” by 2100. But on Humboldt Bay the north Spit station record gives us a relative SLR of 18.6” per century, due to subsidence. Based on a recently completed vulnerability assessment a SLR of 2’ to 3’ will be a significant tipping point on Humboldt Bay.Learn more about how climate change may affect the Humboldt area and how the Refuge is preparing for it.
About the Complex
The coastal habitats conserved at Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge are some of the most beautiful and biologically rich places in the world.
Humboldt Bay is managed as part of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Learn more about the complex
About the NWRS
The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.
Learn more about the NWRS
Restoring habitats to more natural conditions is a priority for Humboldt Bay NWR. Before European settlement, Salmon Creek meandered through brackish and saltmarsh wetlands before entering the south bay. In the early 1900's the creek was channelized and tidal influence was halted. This had serious impacts on the habitat and associated fish and wildlife communities. Beginning in the early 1990's the Refuge began restoring historic Salmon Creek conditions, completing the most recent stage of the project in 2012. Learn More about the Salmon Creek Restoration Project
Historically the Humboldt Bay area had approximately 9,000 acres of valuable saltmarsh habitat. Because of levee construction in the early 1900's, which inhibited saltwater intrusion into historic marshes, salt marshes began to disappear, and now only 900 acres remain. The remaining acres are now being invaded by a robust grass known as Spartina. If left untreated, Spartina can take over an entire saltmarsh, completely eradicating all native species and becoming a monoculture. Through restoration work, the Refuge is combating the Spartina invasion to protect Humboldt's remaining saltmarsh habitat.Learn How the Refuge is Controlling and Reversing Spartina Invasion
The Refuge’s Lanphere Dunes Unit is home to the first dune restoration project on the west coast. Restoration began in the 1980s with early experiments to control invasive European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria). By the early 1990s The Nature Conservancy (the past owner) began a large-scale mechanical eradication project that took 6 years to complete. This project became a template for dune restoration projects throughout the west coast and beyond. Most importantly, it demonstrated that by removing over-stabilizing beachgrass and other invasive plants, essential dune processes were restored, fostering the recovery of the ecosystem. Since that time, dune restoration has continued to evolve and expand. On our local dunes, over 7 miles of coastline have been restored in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, and plans are in the works that will more than double this number.Click Here for More Details About Humboldt Dune Resoration
Migratory Birds descend upon Humboldt Bay year round as they migrate from chilly northern breeding grounds to warmer wintering areas. These birds use the productive Refuge habitats ranging from freshwater wetlands to sandy forested dunes. Learn More About Humboldt's Migrant Birds
The leafcutter bee (Megachile wheeleri) is one of the of specialized, solitary, ground-nesting bees that are crucial to the survival of our native dune mat community. The leafcutter bee, shown here pollinating dune goldenrod, cuts semi-circular pieces from goldenrod leaves and uses them to construct its nest cell. Native bees are gaining increased attention as pollinators due to the decline of the imported honey bee (Apis mellifera) through colony collapse disorder. Photo courtesy of Andrea Pickart.
Page Photo Credits All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted.
Last Updated: Apr 18, 2014