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Visitation: 50000
Area: 316 Acres
Lat: 32.603442
Lon: 117.123413
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Every Kid in a Park. Initiative that gives every U.S. 4th grader and his or her family free access to 2000+ federally managed lands and waters. Educators can also participate.
Sweetwater Marsh Unit of San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge - Site # 203
San Diego Bay's largest remaining salt marsh at the mouth of the Sweetwater River, designated by the American Bird Conservancy as a Globally Important Bird Area
PremiumPremium - the most significant sites, worth visiting if you have limited time. Premium sites have high wildlife values year-round, staff on site, interpretive programs and/or displays, and well-developed facilities.

Wildlife viewing at Sweetwater Marsh. Photo by Steve Killebrew

Background: San Diego Bay's largest remaining salt marsh is at the mouth of the Sweetwater River. Great egrets, snowy egrets, and northern harriers are nearly always present. Trails offer views of San Diego Bay and Gunpowder Point. Look for brants, red breasted mergansers, surf scoters, and buffleheads on the open water. Mudflats contain invertebrates sought by hundreds of migratory shorebirds, including willets, long-billed curlews, western sandpipers, and plovers. Upland shrubs and marsh vegetation serve as perches for western meadowlarks, black and Say's phoebes, and many spring and fall migrants. The refuge also provides crucial habitat for six endangered species, California brown pelicans, California least terns, light-footed clapper rails, Belding's savannah sparrows, snowy plovers, and peregrine falcons. Unusual species are spotted frequently, such as little blue herons, reddish egrets, and black skimmers.
The Living Coast Discovery Center is a Nature Center/zoo with extensive aquaria, terrariums, avian enclosures and a gift shop.

The Habitat: Historical salt marsh habitat found on Sweetwater Marsh supports a variety of migratory shorebirds, and wintering waterfowl. Upland habitat found here provides important habitat for ground nesting birds and raptors.

The Experience: Enjoy the sights and sounds of wetlands and mudflats teeeming with shorebirds, waterfowl, and wading birds from the observation decks around the Chula Vista Nature Center and from interpretive trails. This area has been designated by the American Bird Conservancy as a Globally Important Bird Area and provides habitat for two federally endangered bird species, the California least tern and ligh-footed clapper rail, one threatened species of bird, the western snowy plover, and one endangered plant species, salt marsh bird's beak.

Wildlife and Where to Find It: Visitors take a shuttle to Sweetwater marsh. Once on the refuge, visitors can walk various trails, view bird from observation shelter and within the nature center.

Viewing Tips: More than 215 bird species. Excellent year-round viewing. Best birding fall and winter. Can see most endangered species, but clapper rails are secretive, see them in the museum's new exhibit. Guided walks. Rental binoculars.

Site Notes: Visitors to Sweetwater Marsh will be able to experience some of the most important remaining habitat found on coastal California. This area along the bay is important to many different species of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals.

Festivals & Events: 

Visitor Information: The Living Coast Discovery Center - 619-425-4440 - http://www.chulavistanaturecenter.org/
Viewing Site Hours of Operation are:
Staff On-site: Yes
Open: Sun,Tues,Wed,Thur,Fri,Sat
Hours: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Year Round: Yes
Seasonal: Nature Center is closed between December 24th and January 2nd.

Road Information:   Paved. 
Road Hazards: 
 Number of Parking Spaces: 100
Parking Fee: No
Proximity to viewing area:
 Pull-Through Parking: Yes
Parking Notes: 

How to Get There: From Chula Vista and Interstate 5, take the E Street exit. If coming from south, drive west half-block to parking lot. From north, turn right into parking lot. No vehicles allowed in refuge. Free shuttle buses leave for nature center every 25 minutes beginning 10 a.m. daily Memorial Day through Labor Day, Tuesday through Saturday rest of year.
 

Contact Information
Managing Agency: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Agency Site URL: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/san_diego_bay
Physical Address:1000 Gunpowder Point Drive
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Agency 2:1000 Gunpowder Point Drive
Chula Vista, CA, CA 91910
Manager Phone:(619) 575-2704 ext 302
Site Phone:CVNC (619) 409-5900, SDB
County: San Diego
Addition Website: