What We Do

San Francisco Bay NERR Program Overview

The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of 29 National Estuarine Research Reserves established nationwide as field laboratories for scientific research and estuarine education. 

Our mission is to improve understanding and stewardship of the San Francisco Bay estuary, with a broader relevance to the ecosystems beyond the Golden Gate.

Our two reserves at Rush Ranch and China Camp serve as research sites for scientists; classrooms for teachers, land managers and naturalists; and inspiring places for Bay Area residents to visit.



sfbay nerr map welcome page

Research and Monitoring

Our research objectives are to maintain and expand biophysical and socio-economic monitoring to track environmental change, increase the use of collaborative research to address decision-maker needs, and ensure that scientific, education, and management audiences can use the data and tools developed by the system.


Our education mission includes an emphasis on education, interpretation, and outreach. We conduct formal and informal education activities, as well as outreach activities that target culturally diverse audiences of educators and students, environmental professionals, resource users, and the public.


The fundamental goal of stewardship is to ensure the long-term viability and resiliency of natural and cultural resources through restoration, conservation, and maintenance of reserve resources and ecosystems.

Coastal Training

The Coastal Training Program provides up-to-date scientific information and skill-building opportunities to coastal decision-makers responsible for making decisions affecting coastal resources. 



Partner logos for San Francisco State, California State Parks, NOAA
Partner logos for Solano Land Trust and BCDC

Estuary and Ocean Science Center at SFSU

California State Parks

Friends of China Camp

Solano Land Trust

San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission 

San Francisco Bay NERR Management Advisory Board



Our San Francisco Bay Reserve is part of NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) a national network of 29 reserves.

NERR System Map showing locations of reserves

Priority Management Issues

Coastal Resilience

Need for improved capacity to prepare, respond to and recover from changing environmental conditions and unpredictable extreme events


Coastal Intelligence

Need for timely, actionable information to make informed choices about management decisions for the conservation and restoration of the estuary



Need for broader engagement of diverse audiences to support estuarine conservation and stewardship activities


Latest News


Helicopter dropping fire suppressant on a controlled burn in Rush Ranch.
Summertime Data Lessons
New data-rich lesson plans connect science learning with current natural events. As the weather warms, and the salinity in the estuary increases, data-rich lesson plans written by 2019 graduate student int…
People holding hands
Be the Change: Researchers Reflect on Racism
San Francisco Bay NERR held the first of a series of meetings about how we can “be the change we want to see in the world”… After a couple of weeks of exchanging reading lists and email conversations, and participating in a campus-wide Town Hall di…
Dew on marsh plants
Virtual Vegetation Survey Activity
Learn about marsh plant species and how they are monitored with this virtual plant identification activity Every fall, we spend many days in the marsh surveying the different plant species that are present in our reserve. We have p… Activity Can you find these species in our plots? What is your estimate of their percent cover in each plot?  …          
Storymap interface showing a map of the area
ArcGIS Storymap on the Lower Spring Branch Creek Enhancement Project
My name is Catie Thow, I am a second-year master’s student at San Francisco State University’s Estuary and Ocean Science Cen…