National Wildlife Refuge
Contra Costa County, CA
Phone Number: 510-521-9624
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Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge
The Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is located in the San Francisco Bay-Delta area, along the southern shore of the San Joaquin River. It was the first national wildlife refuge in the country established to protect endangered plants and insects.
Established in 1980, the refuge provides protection for three endangered species: Lange's Metalmark butterfly, Antioch Dunes evening primrose and Contra Costa wallflower. The refuge and a few acres of surrounding lands contain most of the remaining habitat for these three species and are all that remain of a nine kilometer stretch of sand dunes formed during glaciation periods.
Isolation of this sand dune habitat resulted in the development of a unique assemblage of plants, insects, and reptiles. Due to the sensitivity of the habitats and the endangered species, the refuge is not open to unsupervised use by the public.
However, refuge staff and local educators conduct on-site environmental education efforts through guided tours and special events. In addition, volunteers regularly assist refuge staff with habitat restoration projects and endangered species surveys.
Getting There . . .
Take Highway 4 and exit A Street / Lone Tree Way. Turn North onto A Street. Turn right (East) onto Wilbur Avenue. Turn left (North) onto Fulton Shipyard Road. Cross over the railroad tracks and turn right into the second gravel driveway. The refuge is on your right.
The address is 501 Fulton Shipyard Road, Antioch, CA 94509.
Located along the south shore of the San Joaquin River, the area that is now Antioch Dunes Refuge was part of an expanse of 100-foot-high sand dunes left along the River after the Mohave desert receded in prehistoric times. Learn More>>
The refuge is closed to the public.
Management of habitat for the Antioch Dunes evening primrose, the Contra Costa wallflower, and the host plant for the Lange's metalmark butterfly is labor intensive. In areas where sand was mined down to the clay substrate, the refuge has imported and reconstructed sand dunes.
Seeds collected from the plants are grown in a nursery for replanting on the refuge. A combination of prescribed burning, mowing, dune reconstruction, hand-weeding, and herbicides are being employed to remove exotic vegetation and improve the substrate for native seedling establishment.
Surveys of all three species, plus other species of special concern, are conducted annually. Applied management research is being conducted in order to develop a comprehensive plan for managing sand dune habitat on the refuge over time.
Fence maintenance and law enforcement are conducted to protect the resources from disturbance and uncontrolled fires.