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January 6, 2012 > Wildlife in our backyard

Wildlife in our backyard

The Bay Area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Park and trails wind through open spaces preserved for current and future generations to enjoy natural habitat and the wildlife that depends upon such spaces for their existence. One of these protected environments, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, is located along the bay adjacent to the Greater Tri-City area. This was the first urban national refuge established in the United States in 1974 and renamed in honor of Congressman Don Edwards in 1995. Administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this land is reserved not only for wildlife and migratory birds, but also provides a sanctuary from urban/suburban activities just a few miles away for humans as well.

An integral member of six wildlife refuges located around the Bay, thousands of acres in the refuge include open bay, salt ponds and mudflats located along the "Pacific Flyway" that hosts over 280 species of birds every year. In addition, permanent residents include endangered species such as the California clapper rail and salt marsh harvest mouse. This refuge is whose efforts helped protect these sensitive wetlands.

Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the refuge to enjoy the serenity, hike along well-marked trails and take part in activities offered to the public. Described as a "wildlife island in an urban sea," visitor centers are open to the public and coordinate classes, nature hikes, fishing, kayaking and much more as well as a myriad of volunteer efforts.

A brochure for Don Edwards describes winter at the Refuge: "A prime time to view both waterfowl and shorebirds along the Bay, sloughs and marshes. Great "rafts" of surf scoters, lesser scaups, ruddy ducks and bufflehead float along the Bay, while flocks of eared grebes drift in nearby salt ponds. With luck, you may see a golden eagle soaring overhead, scanning for rabbits and other prey."

To welcome the New Year and take advantage of an unexcelled natural experience, visit a national treasure in our own backyard. Entrance and most activities are free of charge. A quarterly newsletter that provides information about the refuge and upcoming activities is available in hardcopy or in an electronic version.

Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge
1 Marshlands Road, Fremont
(510) 792-0222

Alviso Environmental Education Center
Grand Boulevard (off Zanker Road), Alviso
(408) 262-5513

Inner Bair Island
Redwood City

Additional Southeast Bay Shoreline centers:

Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center
4901 Breakwater Avenue, Hayward
(510) 670-7270

Coyote Hills Regional Park
8000 Patterson Ranch Road, Fremont
(510) 544-3220

Alviso Marina County Park
Mill Street, Alviso (the park has no physical address)
(408) 262-6980

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