The San Francisco Estuary isn’t what it used to be: the majority of its’ wetlands, which act as the nurseries and grocery stores of an estuary, were filled or altered; so many non-native animals and plants have moved in that it is often called “the most invaded estuary on earth”; and much of freshwater that would flow into the estuary is diverted and used to sustain human communities throughout California. Despite these changes, there are hidden pockets of amazing habitat left along the shoreline of the estuary. In 2003, two of these special spots were designated as the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is part of NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) and a partnership between NOAA, San Francisco State University, Solano Land Trust, California State Parks, and BCDC.
Both of these NERRS sites, China Camp State Park in Marin County and Rush Ranch Open Space Preserve in Solano County, have been largely protected from development and alteration and are widely recognized for their expansive tidal marshes and undeveloped adjacent uplands. These sites have long been a focus of environmental and ecological research, providing important baseline data and serving as reference areas for the evaluation of restored, enhanced, or created wetlands around the estuary. The Reserve staff work with our partners and other scientists to strengthen and coordinate research within the Reserve, ensure results from research inform management, and engage communities with science and the estuary. Ultimately, we hope this collaborative approach will improve the stewardship of Rush Ranch, China Camp, and the San Francisco Estuary as a whole.