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National Wildlife Refuge

The refuge observation platform at the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge.

The Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge is an approximately 920-acre salt marsh and upland habitat located entirely within the boundaries of Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach.  The refuge constitutes one of the few remaining natural, undeveloped coastal areas of Southern California. 

Although enclosed within a military installation, the base command recognized a need to protect the area from future encroachment.  In 1969 the wetlands aboard the station were designated as a Navy Preserve.

On August 30, 1972 President Richard Nixon signed Public Law 92-408, formally establishing the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge.  In a unique partnership, the refuge is jointly managed by the Department of the Navy and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Seal Beach wetlands provide an important habitat for many endangered bird species.  The refuge is managed specifically for the protection of two of them.  The California least tern nests on a man-made island which was formally used for rocket testing during the Apollo space program.  The light-footed clapper rail nests on special man-made rafts, which are constructed and maintained by Fish and Wildlife Service personnel with the help of many local volunteers.  Other endangered and threatened species who call the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge home include the California brown pelican, the peregrine falcon, and the Belding’s savannah sparrow.

A walking tour of the refuge is provided on the last Saturday of every month (except December) from 8:30-11:00 am.  Advance reservations are required.  For more information or to make reservations call the Fish and Wildlife Service refuge office at (562) 598-1024 or visit the refuge web site.





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