Anaheim Bay


Site Anaheim Bay

Map Seal Beach and Los Alamitos, USGS 7.5' quadrangles

Location Anaheim Bay is located within the city limits of Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, Orange County. Much of the Bay and all of the National Wildlife Refuge are located within the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station.

Contacts Seal Beach National Refuge Manager, (619) 930-0168

Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, (310) 626-7215

City of Seal Beach, (310) 431-2527

City of Huntington Beach, (714) 536-5271

Approximate Wetland Habitat Acreage 956
Approximate Historic Acreage 2,452 acres of low marsh and 801 acres of high marsh.

Ownership Owner Acres Source

U.S. Navy (including the 911 acre National Wildlife Refuge) 5,000 3

Orange County (Sunset Aquatic Regional Park) 63 1

Private (Huntington Harbor) 900 1


Land Use Designation Designated Public Land Use/Recreation in the City of Seal Beach's General Plan and Zoning Ordinance.
Onsite Use The Anaheim Bay - Huntington Harbor complex is composed of several segments; Outer and Inner Anaheim Harbor, the main channel to the Huntington Harbor east of the Pacific Coast Highway, and the marshes and channels of National Wildlife Refuge.
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Naval vessels dock at a wharf in the inner harbor. The Pacific Coast Highway and the Railroad run between the inner harbor and the salt marsh. Active oil wells are located at the eastern end of

the marsh. Case Road, Bolsa Avenue and oil production access roads cross the marsh. Public access is limited to the right-of-way along the Pacific Coast Highway. Four areas on the perimeter of the refuge are mitigation sites for the Port of Long Beach.

Historic Use Anaheim Bay was undisturbed until 1868 when a commercial pier was built at the Landings. In the 1900's, 23 hunting and fishing clubs were established in the Bay and wetlands. Oil was discovered in 1926. In 1944 the U.S. Navy

acquired 5,000 acres of Anaheim Bay and established the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. Oil wells were drilled on Oil Island in 1954 within the Refuge. Huntington Harbor was developed

in the southern part of the bay in the1960's. In 1972 the Anaheim Bay National Wildlife Refuge was created within the borders of the Naval Weapons Station.

Adjacent Use The lands surrounding the Naval Weapons Station and bay are heavily urbanized. Inland from the wildlife refuge, the weapons station is devoted to ammunition storage, maintenance buildings and barracks and some agricultural lands leased from

the Navy. Sunset Aquatic Regional Park lies to the south of the salt marsh. Huntington Harbor, a marine oriented residential community, is to the southeast.

Adjacent Historic Use Cattle ranching, agriculture and commercial port facilities were present until the rapid urbanization in the 1940's and the Navy's port development in 1944. The uplands include several inactive landfills.


Tidal Influence Tidewaters are restricted from entering the inner bay by the 600 foot wide shipping channel connecting the outer and inner harbors and the constriction at the Pacific Coast Highway bridge.

Tidal flow into the wildlife refuge is further restricted by culverts and tide gates, such that tidal action in the upper reaches of the marsh is muted.

Watershed Area 38,000 acres (Anaheim/Bolsa complex).

Tributaries and Flow Tributary Flow Source

Bolsa Chica Channel A flood control channel. No information on flow available. 1

Wintersburg Channel A flood control channel which contributes freshwater to the wetlands by way of Outer Bolsa Bay and Huntington Harbor. 1
Dams Not specified.

Other Sources Agricultural and urban runoff from the immediately adjacent areas.


General According to the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), current problems include metals and pesticides from urban runoff and non-point source pollutants. Water quality is categorized by the Regional Water Quality Control Board as
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impaired. Beneficial uses are mun, nav, rec1, rec2, biol, wild, rare, spwn and mar for the bay, with the addition of est for the wildlife refuge.

Dissolved Oxygen (DO) 1990-92 - Data were collected monthly at 13 tidal wetland stations at four mitigation sites and one reference site in the wildlife refuge from June 1990 to Nov. 1990 and then bimonthly

until July 1992. The DO levels of surface water ranged from 4.04 to 10.22 mg/l and bottom water from 5.27 to 8.26 mg/l. Temperatures of surface water ranged from 13.57 to 25.18 C and from to 13.59 to 24.30 C for bottom water.

Water Salinity 1990-92 - Data were collected monthly at 13 tidal wetland stations at four mitigation sites and one reference site in the wildlife refuge from June 1990 to Nov. 1990 and then bimonthly

until July 1992. Salinity levels of the surface water ranged from 22.2 to 34.23 ppt and from 29.11 to 34.22 for bottom water.

Sediment The deposition of sediments in the Sunset Aquatic Park from Bolsa Chica Channel is a recurring maintenance problem. The main channel through the Outer and Inner Harbors are periodically dredged to remove sand deposited by longshore transport.


Soil Soils in the wildlife refuge are predominately fine and silty sands, clayey silts and silty clays. The lagoonal-alluvial deposits are 35 to 50 feet thick.

Habitat Acres Vegetation
Open Estuarine Water 220 Not specified. 3
Salt Marsh 566 1990/92 - Species identified from the mitigation sites included saltbush, glasswort, pickleweed, sea lavender, California cordgrass and sea arrowgrass. 2,3
Tidal and non-tidal estuarine flats 151 1976 - mat algae 1 plants & 3 ac.
Coastal brackish / freshwater marsh 2 Not specified. 3
Riparian 17 1980 - willow and sycamore. 3 ac. & 8 plants
Upland (principally agriculture lands to the north and east) 303 Ruderal fields, levees, and oil production sites. 2 plants & 3 ac.


Birds 1990-92 - Surveys conducted monthly from Sept. 1990 through Aug. 1992 at the Port mitigation sites and a reference site within the Refuge identified 120 species of which 71 were water associated and included 12 special status species;

3 of which were identified as nesting; Belding's Savannah sparrow#, California least tern#, and the light-footed clapper rail.

Fish 1990-95 - Data were collected bimonthly at 10 stations from Sept.1990 through July 1992 and from Sept. 1994 through July 1995. Sampling sites covered the mitigation areas within the wildlife refuge.

A total of 50 species of fish were caught in beam trawls, beach seine, enclosures and gillnet. Topsmelt, goby, northern anchovy, deepbody anchovy were the most abundant species. California killifish, grunion and pipefish were common.

Benthic Invertebrates 1990-95 - Data were collected bimonthly at10 stations covering the mitigation areas within the wildlife refuge from Sept. 1990 through July 1992 and from Sept. 1994 through July 1995.

280 taxa were collected, 197 from subtital cores, 155 from intertidal cores, 4 from intertidal quadrants, and 136 from trawls. Most abundant subtidal and intertidal species were worms(polychaetes, oligochaetes and nematods),

and crustaceans (amphipods, ostracods and copepods).

Insect 1990/95 - Data were collected bimonthly at 10 stations covering the mitigation areas within the wildlife refuge from Sept.1990 through July 1992 and from Sept. 1994 through July 1995.

11 orders of insects, including 22 families, were found.

Other Wildlife 1976 - 5 species of mammals, including opossum, rabbit, long-tailed weasel, red fox and feral cats. 1981 - survey of the transition zone identified the Pacific tree frog, southern alligator lizard, western fence lizard, and gopher snake.
Special Status Species 1990-92 - Light-footed Clapper Rail#, Belding's savannah sparrow#, California least tern#, brown pelican, common loon, western grebe, double-crested cormorant, osprey, western snowy plover, California gull, elegant tern, and long billed curlew.


Enhancement Status As mitigation for the construction of a 147-acre landfill at the Port of Long Beach, 116 acres of wetlands adjacent to the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge have been restored at Anaheim Bay. Completed in 1990, the mitigation project
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restored four areas of uplands and former wetlands. The Navy, in June 1996, prepared a draft Natural Resource Management Plan for the Naval Station identifying potential restoration and enhancement projects.

Watershed Management During 1996 the Navy was conducting a non-point source pollution study focused on agricultural activity in the watershed. The Navy also has a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan to manage runoff on their property.
Pressure Bioaccumlation of contaminants, continuing oil production, indirect impacts from adjacent development and lack of full tidal flows are reducing the health of the biotic community at the Refuge.
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1 California Department of Fish and Game and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1976. The natural resources of Anaheim Bay. 103 pp. plus appendices.

This report describes the physical and biological resources of Anaheim Bay and its environs. It defines existing and potential problems and presents recommendations for the protection, maintenance and enhancement of those resources.

Physical features, history, land use, ecology, and resource use are summarized. Appendices include lists for birds, mammals, and fish found at the bay.

2 MEC Analytical Systems, Inc. prepared for the Port of Long Beach. 1995. Anaheim Bay biological monitoring project, final report. 100 pp., plus appendices.

The Port of Long Beach restored 116 acres of wetland habitat at four sites within the National Wildlife Refuge. This report evaluates the effectiveness of the mitigation in providing functional wetland habitat as compared to a reference site centrally located in the refuge. It also assesses the effectiveness of the new wetland sites in providing fish and bird habitat, the main goal of the mitigation. Includes fieldwork for water quality, benthic invertebrates, fish, birds and vegetation from 1990 - 1992 and Sept. 1994 - July 1995. Survey data on invertebrates, fish, birds and insects is included in the appendices.

3 MEC. 1993. San Dieguito Lagoon restoration project regional coastal lagoon resources summary. 56 pp and appendix.

This report provides a summary of habitat types, fish, bird and benthic invertebrate populations at 16 coastal wetlands south of Anaheim Bay. It is primarily a synopsis of existing information; sources used in identifying and quantifying habitat types include aerial photographs taken in early 1993. Discusses restoration of habitats at San Dieguito Lagoon given present and historic conditions of other coastal wetlands in the region. This report was prepared as part of the San Dieguito Restoration Project undertaken by Southern California Edison to mitigate for damage to coastal marine resources from the operation of the San Onofore Nuclear Generating Station.

4 Regional Water Quality Control Board. 1995. Water Quality Control Plan for the Santa Ana River Basin. 200 pp.

The plan includes information on the quality of inland surface waters, coastal waters, reservoirs and lakes and ground water in Orange County. It identifies beneficial uses supported by these waters and provides a plan for their protection.

5 Regional Water Quality Control Board Santa Ana Region. 1995. Water quality assessment.

This information comes from the state's water quality assessment data base and includes the water quality assessment data for estuaries in Orange County. Information is presented for water quality (impaired or threatened), including a brief summary of the problem.

6 Barry Curtis, City of Seal Beach. Personal communication, February 28, 1996.

7 Lisa Bosalet, Seal Beach Naval Weapon Station. Personal communication, March 12, 1996.

8 US Fish and Wildlife Service & US Navy. 1990. Final environmental impact statement, endangered species management and protection plan. Approx 150 pp. (8 sections) plus appendices.

This EIS describes the environmental impacts of five alternate endangered species management and protection plans. Particular emphasis is placed on predator (red fox) control within the Seal Beach Refuge. Appendices provide species list for original survey data for the refuge.

9 Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest Division. 1995. Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach; final national wildlife refuge study report. Approx 50pp. (7 sections) plus appendices.

This study was conducted to assess the effects of operations at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach (NWS) on the biota of the tidal saltmarsh at Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The study focused on the potential bioaccumlation of chemicals in species that are the primary food items of the California least tern and Light-footed clapper rail, both of which are listed as endangered. Anaheim Bay is characterized to provide information on types and potential sources of chemicals that could be contributed to the NWR from sources other than NWS Seal Beach. Appendices contain evaluation of sediment transport and chemistry, and any evaluation of contaminants in the food chain.

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