Visitor Activities

Birders
  • Waterfowl Hunting Information

    NEWS!

    In September 2018, the Refuge's Waterfowl Hunting Plan was approved that will add two additional units of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife that are open for waterfowl hunting. The Cullinan Ranch Unit and Dickson Ranch Unit will be open for the upcoming waterfowl season and will add 2,170 acres of the Refuge that are available to hunt.

    2018-2019 San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge Hunting Regulations  (requires Adobe Reader)

    MAPS (requires Adobe Reader)

    Map 1 - Overview Map of Waterfowl Hunting in the North Bay
    Map 2 - Cullinan Ranch Unit
    Map 3 - Dickson Ranch Unit

    GENERAL INFORMATION 

    The San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1974 to support migratory birds, wetland habitat, and endangered species. The Refuge consists of more than 19,000 acres located along the northern edge of San Pablo Bay in northern California. Waterfowl hunting is allowed on 10,216 acres in the open waters of the San Pablo Bay and its navigable tidal sloughs (unless otherwise posted in the field) and in the Cullinan Ranch and Dickson Ranch Units.

    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage.  Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciate of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs. As practiced on refuges, hunting, trapping and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management.  For example, because their natural predators are gone, deer populations will often grow too large for the refuge habitat to support. Hunting programs can promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on lands and waters in the Refuge System.  

    Currently, the following areas of the San Pablo Bay NWR are closed to hunting: Sonoma Baylands Unit, Lower Tubbs Island Unit, and Tubbs Island Setback Unit. 

    The Refuge supports habitat for endangered species including the California Ridgway’s rail and salt marsh harvest mouse. These units are closed to hunting so we can manage the habitat for these species as well as provide sanctuary habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds.  

    HUNT SEASON DATES

    Check the California Waterfowl Regulations ( https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting) each year for dates.   

    • Early season (large Canada goose only) is September 29 - October 3, 2019
    • Regular season is October 20, 2018 - January 27, 2019 
    • Scaup season is November 3, 2018 - January 27, 2019 
    • Youth hunt dates are February 2-3, 2019  

     
    PERMIT REQUIREMENTS

    Hunters 16 years of age or older will need to have: 1) a valid California hunting license; 2) a valid, signed Federal Duck Stamp; 3) a California Duck Validation; 4) a Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation; and 5) identification that includes a photograph (e.g., driver’s license). Hunters who are less than 16 years of age will only need a Junior Hunting License and a HIP Validation. Information regarding hunting licenses and fees are located at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/hunting/  Hunters do not need a Refuge-specific waterfowl hunting permit.   

    BOAT ACCESS

    Hunters have a limited number of access points for launching their boats. Launch sites for motorized boats are located at Black Point Boat Launch, Vallejo Marina, and at Hudeman Slough (north of Skaggs Island on Skaggs Island Road).  There are also two canoe and kayak launches located on the Refuge; one at Dickson Ranch and one at Cullinan Ranch. Hunters may launch only human-powered vessels at these two sites. For the two canoe launch sites, see:  https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/San%20Pablo%20Map%20_Trails.pdf    

    CONTACTS

      Report accidents or injuries on the Refuge to the ManagerDon Brubaker at don_brubaker@fws.gov or (707) 769-4200 ext. 100

      Waterfowl Program Questions - contact Melisa Amato, Waterfowl Hunting Coordinator at melisa_amato@fws.gov     or (707) 769-4200 ext. 102

      Report Refuge Violations - U.S. Park Police Dispatch at (415) 561-5511. The dispatch center can then contact the appropriate enforcement agency near the Refuge. 

      Emergencies - Call 911 

      Report Poachers - CalTIP at (888) DFG-CALTIP
       

      Stay up to date via EmailIf you would like to be on our mailing list to receive hunt program information, please email  melisa_amato@fws.gov with the email subject "San Pablo Hunt Updates"   

       
      OTHER RESOURCES 

      Environmental Assessment (EA) for Opening Waterfowl Hunting and Recreational Fishing at Cullinan Ranch Unit and Dickson Ranch Unit, San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

      Response to Comments 

      2018-2019 Refuge-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations, Final Rule. September 10, 2018

      Another great resource for hunting locations in the North Bay can be found at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website:  https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/Places-to-Visit/Napa-Sonoma-Marshes-WA#12114207-hunting   

      Please refer to the State’s website for additional information (Hunt dates, regulations, bag limits, etc.).   https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Waterfowl

    • Fishing Information

      NEWS! 

      In September 2018, the Refuge's Recreational Sport Fishing Plan was approved to allow recreational fishing in the open bay and navigable sloughs and in the Cullinan Ranch Unit and Dickson Ranch Unit. The Refuge has never been officially opened to recreational fishing before (through the Federal Register, 50 CFR Part 32), however, fishing by boat has occured on the open bay and navigable sloughs prior to and since the Refuge's establishment in 1974.

      Fishing programs promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on all lands and waters in the Refuge System. Fishing opportunities are provided at the fishing pier at the Cullinan Ranch Unit along with a 1,600-foot section of shoreline, or bank, in the vicinity of the pier (Fishing Map for Cullinan). All other fishing in the Refuge is allowed from a boat. See "Boat Access" in the Waterfowl Hunting section above for a description of boat launch areas nearby. No commercial fishing is allowed. 

      OTHER RESOURCES (requires Adobe Reader)

      Environmental Assessment (EA) for Opening Waterfowl Hunting and Recreational Fishing at Cullinan Ranch Unit and Dickson Ranch Unit, San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

      2018-2019 Refuge-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations, Final Rule. September 10, 2018

    • Wildlife Viewing

      The Cullinan Ranch Trail, Sonoma Baylands Trail, Sears Point Trails, and the Tolay Creek Trail and habitats surrounding the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge offer ample opportunities so see wildlife. Situated along the Pacific Flyway, the region where birds migrate through western United States, the refuge and the estuary is an important wintering area for waterfowl, particularly canvasbacks, scaup, and scoters.  Shorebirds also use the area to overwinter or as a stopover point during migration.

      Special group tours are also available to Skaggs Island.  Skaggs Island is a great place to see several species of raptors, and the occasional black-tailed deer.  Contact the refuge manager if you would like to schedule a group tour. 

    • Interpretation

      Refuge System interpretation programs provide opportunities for visitors to make their own connections to the natural world.  From self-guided walks to ranger-led programs, many national wildlife refuges help visitors learn more about the wildlife and habitat behind the landscapes.

      In addition to staff and volunteers presenting programs to audiences, refuges use a variety of exhibits, signs, brochures, and electronic media to communicate natural history stories to visitors.  Printed and virtual information is often available on many topics, including plants and animals, seasonal migrations, habitats, refuge management strategies, and endangered species.

    • Environmental Education

      National Wildlife Refuges serve many purposes, and one of our most important roles is as outdoor classrooms to teach about wildlife and natural resources.  Many refuges offer environmental education programs for a variety of audiences.  Refuges provide unique and exciting outdoor environments – excellent locations for hands-on learning activities.  Thousands of youth and adult groups visit every year to learn about a specific topic on wildlife, habitat, or ecological processes.

      Is your school, youth, environmental or other group interested in learning more about the wildlife, plants, habitats and ecology of a particular national wildlife refuge?  Contact the refuge manager for more information.  Refuges are wild places, and we want to teach you more about them!

    • Photography

      Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography.  That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started.  A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

      Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System.  We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card or internal hard drive! 

    • Boating

      Boating provides an opportunity to view wildlife from a different perspective. An accessible boat launch designed for kayaks and canoes is available at the Cullinan Ranch Unit.  

      Hunters have a limited number of access points for launching their boats. Launch sites for motorized boats are located at Black Point Boat Launch, Vallejo Marina, and at Hudeman Slough (north of Skaggs Island on Skaggs Island Road).  There are also two canoe and kayak launches located on the Refuge; one at Dickson Ranch and one at Cullinan Ranch. Hunters may launch only human-powered vessels at these two sites. For the two canoe launch sites, see: https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/San%20Pablo%20Map%20_Trails.pdf