Trail Closure

At Kirby Park, the accessible trail remains closed due to storm damage.

Tree branches

Photo by Kiliii Yuyan

Partners in Conservation

Stronger Together

Conservation and cooperation at Elkhorn Slough

A Longstanding Alliance

For more than 40 years, Elkhorn Slough conservation has been served by a partnership centered on the National Estuarine Research Reserve.

In 1980, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) established, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), what is now one of 30 Estuarine Reserves around the country. CDFW owns and manages the 1700-acre Reserve at Elkhorn Slough. Soon after, in 1982, the nonprofit Elkhorn Slough Foundation (ESF) was created by the local Advisory Committee to assist CDFW and NOAA with program development.

Over the years, this three-way partnership has supported the flowering of outstanding programs and expanded slough conservation dramatically. ESF and CDFW work together to sustain programs and slough conservation; the nonprofit also helps to administer grant funding supporting slough programs developed by Reserve staff and overseen by CDFW’s Reserve Manager.

Elkhorn slough partner diagram

Committed to the Future

Today, the Elkhorn Slough Reserve:

  • hosts thousands of students each year who learn about the rich coastal environment of the slough

  • welcomes tens of thousands of visitors from around the world

  • provides a hub for programs that are transforming the very ecosystem itself

The blended efforts of these three organizations are focused on making Elkhorn Slough a healthier place. Over the years, dedicated staff and volunteers have “put their shoulders to the wheel” to make Elkhorn Slough a shining example of community-supported conservation. This partnership has led to the direct protection of over 6,000 acres of critical coastal habitat, farms, and ranches—as well as dynamic research and education programs.

We are energized and engaged in tackling the challenges ahead, knowing that we have a community of people who are committed to the future.

Elkhorn slough water at dusk

Photo by Eric Surprenant

NOAA at Elkhorn Slough

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an important partner at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) is a national network of 30 sites dedicated to the effective science-based management of coastal and estuarine environments.

Established by the Coastal Zone Management Act in 1972, these reserves are partnerships between NOAA and a U.S. state or protectorate—in this case, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. NOAA provides funding and national guidance and the state partners provide a place and vision for the reserve’s work and administer programs in support of reserve goals.

Together, the reserve system encompasses more than 1.3 million acres of coastal and estuarine habitats nationwide.

Flying heron Tom McElroy

Photo by Tom McElroy

CDFW at Elkhorn Slough

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) owns and manages the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, operating in partnership with the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the local nonprofit Elkhorn Slough Foundation.

CDFW provides the land for the National Estuarine Research Reserve, as well as the office space for personnel working on the Reserve and adjacent protected lands. They oversee the Reserve staff, many of whom are federally funded through the Elkhorn Slough Foundation. Through this partnership, the CDFW is able to conduct research, stewardship, and education activities at Elkhorn Slough and engage with the local community to embrace this public facility.

The Reserve was designated as an ecological reserve by the Fish and Game Commission in 1980. Visit the CDFW website for more information.

Mark & Dave

Elkhorn Slough Foundation Executive Director Mark Silberstein and Elkhorn Slough Reserve Manager Dave Feliz. Photo by Kiliii Yuyan.

Elegant tern

An elegant tern, photo by Brad Lewis

Keep Elkhorn Wild

Give today to preserve the lands and waters of Elkhorn Slough for future generations.

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