Friends of Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge
Facts and History
The Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge is an approximately 965-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.  The Navy set aside the land
as a Navy Preserve in 1964 prior to the creation of the Refuge.
On August 30, 1972 President Richard Nixon signed Public Law 92-408, formally establishing the Seal Beach
National Wildlife Refuge and transferring it to the administrative jurisdiction of the U. S. 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 Ridgway's Rail
nests on special man-made rafts, which are constructed and maintained by Fish and Wildlife personnel with
the help of many local volunteers.  Other endangered and threatened species who call the Seal Beach National
Wildlife Refuge home include the federally threatened Green Sea Turtle and the state endangered Belding’s
Savannah Sparrow.
The Refuge is also extremely important as a resting point for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and water birds to
use on their way to and from such faraway places as South America and the Aleutian Islands.  Thousands of
Canada geese alone use the refuge area as a rest stop during their annual migration.  Additionally, the Refuge
provides a very important link in the Earth's food chain by supplying other creatures for the birds to feed upon.
Bucking worldwide historical trends, the Refuge wetlands area has actually increased in size in recent years
through restoration programs and mitigation measures.
In 1996, the Friends of Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge was formed to help further the long-term
conservation of the area.  This non-profit organization is active in numerous restoration and education
programs, as well as assisting in surveys and the monitoring of endangered species.
Marsh view; photo by Tim Anderson
Last updated August 15, 2016
The Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the Navy, operates a Nature Center at the Refuge.  The
Center, which opened in 1996, commands a sweeping view of the salt marsh and contains many educational
materials.