A tidal marsh as far as the eye can see.
San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a lush, pickleweed marsh located along the San Pablo Bay in California. This coastal marshland is the largest remaining continuous pickleweed tidal marsh in northern San Francisco Bay. Pickleweed, or Salicornia, is a genus of flowering succulent plants that grow in salt marshes and mangroves. Enjoyed by waterfowl, harvest mice, and even humans, pickleweed serves as an important food source and habitat for marshland inhabitants.
We found ourselves in San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge as we explored Sonoma County. Driving through wine country via Highway CA 121, we continued on Highway CA 37 to enjoy a scenic drive along the bay. A drive across the marshlands would bring us to the city of Vallejo, where we drove across the Mare Island Causeway for a brief stop at River Park.
After enjoying the views of the causeway from nearby River Park, we made our way back to San Pablo Bay to explore more of the marshlands near sunset.
There are several access points to the San Pablo Bay marshlands along CA 37. We chose a northbound access point surrounded by water to get a great view of the visiting migratory birds. I wished I had my 70-200mm lens with me to capture the various waterfowl! It is difficult to see in the image above at only 35mm, but there is a flock of birds seeking refuge in the marshlands.
A haven for migratory waterfowl.
Established in 1974 and managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge supports migratory birds, wetland habitats, and endangered species. The Refuge consists of more than 19,000 acres located along the northern edge of San Pablo Bay in northern California. The refuge supports the largest wintering population of canvasbacks on the west coast and protects the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse and endangered Ridgeway's Rail.
Rising sea levels will eventually compromise the Baylands.
We enjoyed the last bit of sunset from this dock as I read more about this habitat on my smartphone. It is estimated that nearly 85% of the marshland has been altered or impacted by draining, filling, salt production, and hydraulic mining. As a result of human activity in conjunction with climate changes, interventions will be necessary to adapt to rising water levels. Read more about how climate change will eventually affect the San Pablo Baylands in this article posted by the public media company KQED.