Consisting of mudflat, marine and salt marsh habitats, the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve is a 752-acre property offering numerous opportunities for recreation and wildlife viewing.
The History of the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve
The Upper Newport Bay was purchased by the state in 1975 for the Fish and Wildlife Department’s Ecological Reserve System. 10 years later, the upper west bluffs and lands surrounding the bay became part of an Orange County regional park.
While sedimentation is a natural occurrence in bays and estuaries, but channelization of the watershed combined with other changes in land use has led to increased sedimentation that has threatened to destroy the Upper Bay. For this reason, major restoration projects were implemented in the 1980s. At this time, 2.5 million cubic yards of sentiment were removed from the Reserve. Two in-bay sediment trap basic and two upstream in-channel sediment traps were then constructed.
Exploring the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
The Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve is located adjacent to a Marine Protected Area. As such, it shares some of these protected marine habitats. San Diego Creek, which flows past the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary before entering the bay, is the main tributary of the Upper Newport Bay. The bay is then connected to the Pacific Ocean by the lower Newport Bay.
Enjoying Recreation at the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve
The Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve offers a number of recreational opportunities for visitors to enjoy. These include jogging, hiking, bicycling, canoeing and kayaking. The Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center offers additional opportunities to enjoy what the area has to offer. Opened from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday, the Interpretive Center is located at 2301 University Drive. Some of the amenities and features the Preserve has to offer include:
• Bike Trails
• Equestrian Trails
• Hiking Trails
• Interpretive Programs
• Scenic Overlook
The Preserve also has a gift shop and restrooms available for public use.
Wildlife at the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve
Large mudflats with loafing areas situated above high tide serve as an extremely desirable area for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl at the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve. In fact, it is a major stopover for birds on the Pacific Flyway, with dozens of species making it one of their stops. Among these are several endangered species of birds.
The sheltered waters of the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve also serve as the ideal habitat for foraging and spawning marine fish. The waters also offer ample opportunities to enjoy tidepool viewing.
Events at Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve
A number of events take place at the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve on a regular basis. On October 29th, the Preserve will host Family Science Sunday from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. Family Science Sundays offer free activities at the Muth Interpretive Center’s Discovery Classroom, with a different educational theme explored each month. This program is recommended for ages two through ten years old.
The Second Sundays Restoration Program also offers opportunities to volunteer at the Preserve. Taking place on the second Sunday of each month, the program provides volunteers with the opportunity to assist with planting native plants, removing non-native plants, removing trash, watering plantlife and garden maintenance.