What We Do

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 considers any management techniques and employ them in varying degrees according to the situation. 

Sensitive areas such as bird nesting areas, are closed to the public so that the land can support and recover threatened and endangered species. The San Diego Bay NWR is a special place that provides a safe haven from the surrounding urban development, and the nesting birds depend on this land for breeding, feeding, and resting. Migrating birds rest at this important stop along the Pacific Flyway. Restoration projects are carefully designed to mimic nature to allow target habitat types to develop passively.  Visit Salt Pond Restoration or Otay River Restoration to learn more about our large restoration efforts.

Wildlife and habitat management programs focus on the recovery of the endangered California least tern, endangered light-footed Ridgway's rail, threatened western snowy plover, and the endangered plant, salt marsh salt marsh
Salt marshes are found in tidal areas near the coast, where freshwater mixes with saltwater.

Learn more about salt marsh
bird's beak.

Least tern and snowy plover recovery actions include nest site preparation, predator control, and monitoring at the D Street fill within the Sweetwater Marsh Unit, and Salt Works within the South San Diego Bay Unit. Light-footed Ridgway's rail recovery actions include salt marsh restoration, population monitoring, and a captive breeding program conducted in partnership with the Living Coast Discovery Center, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo's Safari Park, and others.

Public involvement and input are important to us and to the planning process, and we hope you will take an active interest in the process, individually and as a community. 

Trapping Occurs on this Refuge

Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. Outside of Alaska, refuges that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a refuge special use permit. Signs are posted on refuges where trapping occurs. Contact the refuge manager for specific regulations.  

Management and Conservation

The Refuge System is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Service is the primary Federal entity responsible for conserving and enhancing the Nation’s fish and wildlife populations and their habitats. The following Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and legal information about the Service's responsibilities are explained below.

CLOSED - Draft Fishing Plan Available for Review

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to open to sport fishing approximately 875 acres of open bay waters within the South San Diego Bay Unit of the San Diego Bay NWR. Fishing would be permitted by boat or an appropriate floating device. A draft Fishing Plan, an Environmental Assessment, and a Compatibility Determination have been prepared to address this use and are provided here for review and will be available to the public and interested agencies consistent with the publication of the draft 2020-2021 Refuge Specific Regulations for Hunting and Fishing on Regulations.gov.

 

Refuge Planning 

National Wildlife Refuge planning sets the broad vision for refuge management and the goals, objectives, strategies, and actions required to achieve it. Planning ensures that each refuge meets its individual purposes, contributes to the Refuge System’s mission and priorities, is consistent with other applicable laws and policies, and enhances conservation benefits beyond refuge boundaries. 

Comprehensive Conservation Plans 

Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs) are the primary planning documents for National Wildlife Refuges. As outlined in the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, as amended, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is required to develop CCPs that guide refuge management for the next 15 years. CCPs articulate the Service’s contributions to meeting refuge purposes and the National Wildlife Refuge System mission. CCPs serve as a bridge between broad, landscape-level plans developed by other agencies and stakeholders and the more detailed step-downs that stem from Refuge CCPs.  

The 2006 Final Comprehensive Conservation Plan for San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge can be found here: https://ecos.fws.gov/ServCat/Reference/Profile/1506 

Step-down Plans 

CCP step-down plans guide refuge-level programs for: (1) conserving natural resources (e.g., fish, wildlife, plants, and the ecosystems they depend on for habitat); (2) stewarding other special values of the refuge (e.g., cultural or archeological resources, wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, etc.); and (3) engaging visitors and the community in conservation, including providing opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation. Like CCPs, step-down plans contribute to the implementation of relevant landscape plans by developing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) objectives, strategies, implementation schedules, and decision support tools to fulfill refuge visions and goals. This ensures that refuges are managed in a landscape context and that conservation benefits extend beyond refuge boundaries.  

National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act

National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997: The NWRS Improvement Act 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.

Our Projects and Research

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 considers any management techniques and employ them in varying degrees according to the situation. 

Sensitive areas such as bird nesting areas, are closed to the public so that the land can support and recover threatened and endangered species. The San Diego Bay NWR is a special place that provides a safe haven from the surrounding urban development, and the nesting birds depend on this land for breeding, feeding, and resting. Migrating birds rest at this important stop along the Pacific Flyway. Restoration projects are carefully designed to mimic nature to allow target habitat types to develop passively.  

Wildlife and habitat management programs focus on the recovery of the endangered California least tern, endangered light-footed Ridgway's rail, threatened western snowy plover, and the endangered plant, salt marsh salt marsh
Salt marshes are found in tidal areas near the coast, where freshwater mixes with saltwater.

Learn more about salt marsh
bird's beak.

Least tern and snowy plover recovery actions include nest site preparation, predator control, and monitoring at the D Street fill within the Sweetwater Marsh Unit, and Salt Works within the South San Diego Bay Unit. Light-footed Ridgway's rail recovery actions include salt marsh restoration, population monitoring, and a captive breeding program conducted in partnership with the Living Coast Discovery Center, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo's Safari Park, and others.

Public involvement and input are important to us and to the planning process, and we hope you will take an active interest in the process, individually and as a community. 

Click the following links to learn more about:

Salt Pond Restoration

Otay River Restoration

Sweetwater Marsh Restoration

Mosquito Management

 

SoCal Urban Wildlife Refuge Project

Learn how by working together with program partners we are helping city-dwelling communities re-connect with nature and building stewards for the environment. 

Law Enforcement

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Officers help visitors understand and obey wildlife protection laws. They work closely with state and local government offices to enforce federal, state and refuge hunting regulations that protect migratory birds and other game species from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting opportunities.

Laws and Regulations

Any activity conducted off-trails on the San Diego Bay NWR is illegal unless approved by the Refuge Manager.  In order to conduct scientific research, or any other activity off-trail, please contact the Refuge Manager at (619) 575-2704 extension 302.