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The Elkhorn
Slough Reserve

The Elkhorn Slough



Other than San Francisco Bay, the Elkhorn Slough harbors the largest tidal salt marsh in California, meandering seven miles inland from the center of Monterey Bay, which is famous for whale watching. The Elkhorn Slough is a biologically rich estuary providing habitat for an array of resident and migratory birds, plants, marine mammals and fish, and has been identified as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Birding Conservancy.

With the highest concentration of Southern sea otters in the world, the Elkhorn Slough is home to up to 140 otters that eat, sleep, and play in its waters.  The Elkhorn Slough is a diverse estuary with harbor seals and sea lions visible year-round. Over 340 species of birds can be seen over the course of the year as they journey along the Pacific flyway. The Elkhorn Slough provides a critical service to the environment as it naturally filters and removes impurities from the water before it enters the ocean. The Elkhorn Slough also acts as a carbon sink sequestering carbon from the atmosphere to slow climate change.

The Elkhorn Slough Reserve


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The Elkhorn Slough Reserve is made up of 1700 biologically diverse acres and is located toward the inland side of the slough.  The Elkhorn Slough Reserve Visitor Center mission is to promote education, research, and conservation of the Elkhorn Slough.

Come see the Elkhorn Slough Reserve Visitor Center’s award-winning exhibits and learn more about the Slough.  Take advantage of the five miles of trails that meander through beautiful oak woodlands, calm tidal creeks, and freshwater marshes.  The Elkhorn Reserve offers tours on the weekends as well as special events throughout the year.

Teacher Workshops

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Explore the unique outdoor classroom that is the Elkhorn Slough!

Elkhorn Slough Virtual Field Trip

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The Elkhorn Slough Reserve is now accessible to teachers and students from anywhere!

Elkhorn Slough Field Trips

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Enrich your students learning with a visit to the Elkhorn Slough Reserve.

The Elkhorn Slough Foundation


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The Elkhorn Slough Foundation’s mission is to conserve and restore Elkhorn Slough and its watershed. Partnered with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, they support outreach, education and research.  Their main role as a land trust is the main focus of their work.  They manage nearly 4000 acres in the Elkhorn watershed, restoring tidal wetlands, coastal prairies, oak woodlands, freshwater ponds and other key habitats. 

Currently, The Elkhorn Slough Foundation is restoring a tidal wetlands area just past MoonGlow Dairy. Spend a day on the Slough and see the great work that The Elkhorn Slough Foundation does.

Oak and Wetland Restoration 

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An up-and-coming project at the Reserve is to restore native grassland and coastal live oak groves. The grasslands and the oak groves at the Elkhorn Slough have been displaced by non-native invasive eucalyptus trees. Returning the Elkhorn Slough to a more native landscape will enhance habitat for threatened species such as the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander and Califonia’s red-legged frog. 

This project will be carefully planned out using a science-based approach and once started will take 10 years to complete.

Read More Oak and Wetlands Restoration 

Sand Hill Farm Restoration

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In 2016 the 107 acre Sand Hill Farm was acquired by the Elkhorn Slough Foundation. The farm is to be returned to its native habitat except for 15 acres that will be used for an organic farm.

The process included cleaning up farm debris and returning the upper slopes to native oak woodlands for groundwater recharge and soil conservation.

Sand Hill Farm is the seventh former-farmlands property that Elkhorn Slough Foundation is restoring to its more native environment.

Read More Sand Hill Restoration Project

Tidal Marsh Restoration Project

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 Project design led by ESA-PWA and included H.T. Harvey, Moffatt and Nichol, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and ENGEO, this is the first major salt marsh restoration project in the Elkhorn Slough.

After careful thought and planning, the project began adding sediment to a subside marsh of the Elkhorn Slough. The innovative design was to ensure a sustainable marsh. A marsh that will perform better in the face of sea-level rise than the other low-level marshes.

Read  more Tidal Marsh Restoration Project