Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is a fragile sand dune area on the south shore of the San Joaquin River-Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel, near the city of Antioch, California. It offers habitat for three endangered plant and insect species and is freely accessible with the exception of tours and activities under the direction of refuge staff. In 1980, the refuge was established. It is governed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
A restore wildlife habitat initiative, funded by the Port of Stockton and initiated by the U.S. Army Corps, started in 2013. This research includes the dredging and drainage of sandy waste from the San Joaquin River to the Antioch Dunes. The aim is to stimulate population growth of the Lange metalmark butterfly. The process uses a hydraulic cutter-suction dredger, which pumps the mixture of sand-water through a fish screen. The mixture flows across a series of berms, separating the sand from the water pumped back into the river. Then, the sand is spread onshore. The project will replant this with buckwheat and two endangered plants when the sand is in place.
Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is the country's only national wildlife refuge developed to protect endangered plants and insects – the Antioch Dunes night primrose, the Contra Costa wallflower, and the Lange 's metalmark butterfly.
The 55-acre refuge, established in 1980, was once part of a larger sand dune system that extended two miles along the south bank of the San Joaquin River east of the City of Antioch. The sand dunes were formed by ancient glacial sand deposits carried off from the Sierra Nevada downriver. The ocean winds and bay tides have formed this eolian (wind-blown) sand in dunes that reached around 120 feet in height over thousands of years. Isolation of these dunes has contributed to the creation of plant and insect species that have not been seen in the world anywhere else.
The sand dune habitat was fragmented by large-scale sand mining and industrial development until only a small portion of the original ecosystem remained. What remains today are two disjunct parcels (Stamm and Sardis Units) that contain sand dunes that range from 0-50 feet high, making up refuge.
The refuge is not open to unsupervised use by the public because of the protection of the environment and the endangered species. However, on-site environmental education activities are being undertaken by refuge staff and local educators through monthly guided tours and special events. Volunteers also routinely support refugee workers with programs for habitat conservation and surveys of endangered species.
This amazing attraction is located near the following parks in Oakley, California:
Big Break Regional Shoreline
Nunn-Wilson Family Park
Antioch/Oakley Regional Shoreline
Contra Costa Canal
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