About the Refuge's Conservation Work

Shorebirds in Flight

San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge was established with two major purposes: the preservation of the natural resources of northern San Pablo Bay to support habitat of migratory birds, and threatened and endangered species.  

Management Plans  


Several conservation and restoration plans guide the conservation priorities of the refuge.    

Comprehensive Conservation Plan (2011) 

The Comprehensive Conservation Plan guides management for the Refuge for the next 15 years. The goals, objectives, and strategies for improving Refuge conditions—including the types of habitat we will provide, partnership opportunities, and management actions needed to achieve desired conditions – are described in this plan. 

Read San Pablo Bay NWR's CCP.

When developing the conservation and management goals for the refuge, the refuge referred to several conservation and restoration plans already set in place for the San Francisco Bay Area. These plans are Southern Pacific Shorebird Conservation Plan, San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, Tidal Marsh Recovery Plan, 2008-2012 National Invasive Species Management Plan, Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals, Subtidal Habitat Goals Project, and San Francisco Bay Plan.

Natural Resource Management Plan and Inventory and Monitoring Plan (2019) 

Our conservation mission is becoming more urgent in the face of climate change, invasive species, urbanization, and other stressors. We've made a lot of progress in the past several decades in habitat restoration, wildlife monitoring, land acquisition, urban community outreach, and participated in several regional planning efforts and collaborative partnerships, all of which help advance our conservation mission. However, our ability to achieve our conservation goals and objectives on the ground across seven refuges has been greatly diminished by declining budgets and fewer staff, a continual trend since 2010.   

In order to meet these challenges now and into the future, we must focus our limited resources on those wildlife conservation and human well-being strategies that will make the most difference and have the greatest success. Beginning in 2016, the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex engaged in a detailed strategic planning process using Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation to reflect on and refine our conservation and public engagement practices as part of developing a Natural Resources Management Plan (NRMP) and Inventory and Monitoring Plan (IMP). This effort built on our existing refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plans, the best available science, and partner input, but we must face the reality that we cannot do everything so we must focus on what is most important. Completed in 2018, this process helped identify our highest priorities, refine conservation goals and objectives, align outreach and education efforts with conservation priorities, narrow the field of strategies and surveys, and build a foundation for regular evaluation, learning, and adaptation.   

It is also essential to acknowledge here that focusing on what is the most important priorities means that some things we have been doing for many years will drop out. Activities identified as low priorities during this process will still be represented in our overall multi-year work plan so that they can be addressed when more funding is available or new information changes the priorities.  

The NRMP and IMP are available in the links below.  

Natural Resource Management Plan for the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex 

San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex Inventory and Monitoring Plan 


National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997

National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 defines a unifying mission for all refuges, including a process for determining compatible uses on refuges, and requiring that each refuge be managed according to a CCP. The NWRS Improvement Act expressly states that wildlife conservation is the priority of System lands and that the Secretary shall ensure that the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of refuge lands are maintained. Each refuge must be managed to fulfill the specific purposes for which the refuge was established and the System mission. The first priority of each refuge is to conserve, manage, and if needed, restore fish and wildlife populations and habitats according to its purpose.