States / California


Coastal Management

The focus is on managing coastal areas to increase resilience, with an emphasis on balancing environmental, economic, and human wellbeing. Mandated by the Coastal Zone Management Act, the two federal programs designed for this task are the National Coastal Zone Management Program and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. Programs are administered, on the federal side, by NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, in partnership with the coastal states.

The sun setting over a pier as the sun reflects into the ocean.

State Programs

In this state, the coastal zone management program is made up of three organizations, and there are three research reserves.

Coastal Zone Management

California Coastal Commission. Established in 1972 and later made permanent by the legislature through adoption of the California Coastal Act of 1976. In partnership with coastal cities and counties, the Coastal Commission plans and regulates the use of land and water in the coastal zone.

California Coastal Conservancy. A state agency established in 1976 to protect and improve natural lands and waterways, the program purchases, protects, restores, and enhances coastal resources and provides access to the shore along the length of California's coast and around San Francisco Bay.

San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Protects and enhances San Francisco Bay and encourages the bay's responsible and productive use for this and future generations. The organization has increased public access from four to over 340 miles of bay shoreline, supported the maritime industry and sustainable port expansion, and reduced annual bay filling from 2,300 acres to a few acres for critical water needs.

National Estuarine Research Reserves

San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Designated in 2003 and protecting 3,710 acres, this reserve is located in Rush Ranch and China Camp State Park, north of San Francisco. Tidal marsh restoration is accomplished there using research, monitoring, and education. (See handout)

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. Designated in 1979 and protecting 1,739 acres, this reserve provides habitat for more than 550 species of invertebrates, 100 species of fish, and 135 species of birds, including six species listed as threatened or endangered. Located on the Pacific Flyway, the reserve and the surrounding area are renowned for outstanding birding opportunities. (See handout)

Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Established in 1982 and covering an expanse of 2,293 acres, the reserve is located just 15 miles south of San Diego in Imperial Beach, California, along the Mexican border. Daily management is a collaborative effort involving California State Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with support from the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association. (See handout)

Impact Stories

Stories that showcase the recent work of this state's coastal management efforts.

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