Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge

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Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Map showing the location of Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge
Map showing the location of Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge
Map of the United States
Location Monterey County, California, United States
Nearest city Castroville, California
Coordinates 36°44′30″N 121°48′14″W / 36.74162°N 121.80384°W / 36.74162; -121.80384Coordinates: 36°44′30″N 121°48′14″W / 36.74162°N 121.80384°W / 36.74162; -121.80384[1]
Area 367 acres (1.49 km2)
Established 1974
Governing body U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge is located approximately 11 miles north of Monterey, California and 3 miles south of Castroville, California at the point where the Salinas River empties into Monterey Bay. The 367-acre (1.49 km2) refuge encompasses several habitat types including sand dunes, pickleweed salt marsh, river lagoon, riverine, and a saline pond. The Refuge was established in 1974 because of its “particular value in carrying out the national migratory bird management program.”[2]

The area provides habitat for several threatened and endangered species, including the California brown pelican, Smith's blue butterfly, the western snowy plover, the Monterey sand gilia, and the Monterey spineflower. The Refuge is used by a variety of migratory birds during breeding, wintering, and migrating periods. Refuge mammals include muskrat, golden beaver, gray fox, red fox, striped skunk, longtail weasel, Virginia opossum, vagrant shrew, broad-footed mole, brush rabbit, raccoon, duskyfooted woodrat, deer mouse, and coyote.[3]

Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public though there are no facilities beyond a parking lot and footpaths. Those willing to walk from the parking lot to the beach are rewarded with beautiful scenery and an excellent presentation of native dune vegetation.

Dogs, horseback riding, and camping are not permitted due to the sensitivity of the habitat.


The northwestern Monterey County has a mediterranean climate with warm and dry summers. During the winter time, the climate is wet and mild. Roughly 16 inches of rain is recorded a year. Approximately 90 percent of the rainfall occurs between November and April. Wind comes from the southeast during the summer and fall, and there is a steady northwest wind during winter and spring. [4]

Water quality[edit]

The Salinas River water is contaminated due to pumping and the workers of the urban industries that dump chemicals into the water. The flow altercation disrupts the balance of salt in the water. But, the biggest threats to the water quality are the nutrients and pesticides from the agricultural land upstream. The excess nutrients causes eutrophication, and this produces excess algae in the organisms. Pesticides that are used in the area are dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and other types of organochlorine insecticides. Pesticides cause many medical issues and may even cause death.[4] The water in the Salinas River is negatively affecting the California Salamanders. The contaminants present in the water are causing the California Salamanders to lose weight and become weaker. Other endangered species have come into contact with the water also. Tests are being conducted in hopes to improve the water quality. To improve the quality of the water, the pesticides are being tested along with the acidity of the water. [5]


Salina is located along the California Coast Ranges. Basement rocks are located along the coast and are between 65 to 245 million years old. This classifies the rocks as Mesozoic. Around seven million years ago the ground of the California Coast Ranges was uplifted making the ground uneven. Strike lift tectonics are still active in the region due to the San Andreas fault system. The San Andreas Fault is located along Salina. Along the ocean is where the San Gregorio-Hosgri fault system lays. The San Gregorio-Hosgri Fault is an element of the San Andreas Fault, and it has the ability to create high magnitude earthquakes. Hosgri Fault once produced a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. Basement rocks usually underlain the adjacent Coast Ranges, but Salina is distinguished by a heat transformed rock. The crystalline basement is situated on sedimented rocks. The majority of the Refuge is located of inactive dune deposits that are between 1.6 million to ten thousand years old. This classifying the dune deposits as being Pleistocene age. The Refuge also is situated on active coastal deposits and clay deposits. [4] Drillings were taken place next to the river on the refuge and the analysis of the drillings showed there was sand beneath the clay. At deeper layers the clay was found to be more dense, and that is how researchers determined that liquefaction was unlikely in this area. [6]


  1. ^ "Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ "Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge". U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2010-12-16. 
  3. ^ Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan Summary (PDF) (Report). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2002-12. Retrieved 2010-12-16.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ a b c U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (2002). Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge. Sacramento: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. pp. 35–39. 
  5. ^ Ryan, Maureen. "Lethal Effects Of Water Quality On Threatened California Salamanders But Not On Co-Occurring Hybrid Salamanders". Academic Search Premier. 
  6. ^ Feldsher, Theodore. "A Solid Foundation". Academic Search Premier. 

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.