About the Refuge

Aerial of the Tijuana Slough NWR

Tijuana Slough is a 1,072-acre wetland located where the Tijuana River meets the sea. The refuge was established in 1980 and is part of the 2,800 acre Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR), one of only 28 such reserves in the United States.

This Refuge is also designated as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Wetlands Convention. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administers the reserve system and supports research and education activities along with our partners at California State Parks and the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association (SWIA).

The slough’s habitats include open water, tidal salt marsh, beach dune, riparian, vernal pool and upland coastal sage scrub habitats. Over 370 species of birds have been recorded on the refuge and in the adjacent Tijuana River Valley. The visitor center and native plant gardens offer interactive exhibits, guided bird and nature walks on four miles of available trails, as well as a Junior Ranger program. Hundreds of school children from kindergarten through high school participate in environmental education programs. Volunteers assist staff with projects such as native plant restoration.

History of the establishment of the refuge

The South Bay Historical Society wrote an article on the immense efforts of Dr. Mike and Patricia McCoy in the late 1970s: Saving the Estuary (November 2016).