Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife habitat island, one of the largest urban refuges in the United States found in the Southern part of the San Francisco Bay. The refuge borders a growing metropolis of 7 million people and is home to federally listed endangered or threatened species.
The sanctuary hosts 227 species of birds including the western snowy plover which totals 8 per cent of the world population at the sanctuary. 60 per cent of the total population of the California clapper rail in the world resides here as well as a considerable number of the salt marsh harvest mouse found in the tidal marshes.
The refuge is focused on the management of endangered waterfowl and shorebirds with between 45,000-75000 of waterfowls using the refuge each winter and another 500,000shorebirds using the mudflats and salt ponds. About 8 per cent of the world population of shorebirds visit the sanctuary each year and is recognized for its environmental education programs with close to 700,000 people visiting annually including 10,000 school children, teachers and parents.
The sanctuary is also host to a wide range of flora and we were shown the California sage, coyote brush and sticky monkey flower by the two guides which grow very well here because of the favorable weather conditions.
The refuge spans 30,000 acres of slat pond, salt marsh, mudflat and open bay which are good for species such as the Northern Pintail, snowy and great egret which we also saw at the refuge.
Biological monitoring programs are conducted annually through winter airboat surveys and nest surveys for species such as the snowy plovers. Predators and invasive species are managed to protect the native species including the native marsh species.
The refuge has wildlife recreation activities with over 30 miles of hiking trails, the Fremont Visitor Center, Alviso Environmental Education Center and a fishing pier that extends to the San Francisco Bay.