Explore Bair Island

July 15, 2018
Redwood City Attractions

Outdoor enthusiasts: Looking for things to do while visiting Redwood City? Come check out Bair Island! Part of the larger Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Bair Island Ecological Preserve covers 3,000 acres of beauty. Bair Island earned its name in the 1920’s from the farmer who owned the land and used it for agricultural purposes. Consisting of three islands, Inner, Middle and Outer, these islands are connected by crushed stone pedestrian walkways and bridges linking them all. Since the 1800’s, levees had been built in the area to drain the water and use the land for agriculture and homesteads. They initially began as one island, later being divided into three separate islands by more levees in the 1940’s to use some of the land as salt evaporation ponds, harvested by Leslie Salt until 1965. For its time, it was the largest salt production site.

Located on the north end of Redwood City, just east of the 101 in San Francisco Bay, it is an easy commute from nearly any point and an absolute must for sightseers, activity buffs and historians alike.

Purchased from Leslie Salt in 1973 by Mobil Oil Estates, the new landowners planned on converting this important ecological area into over 20,000 homes, a shopping center and a corporate office complex. It was approved by the Redwood City government. Narrowly avoiding this proposition by a referendum made by Redwood City citizens, this was overturned by only forty-two votes in 1982, and it was saved from the commercial and residential renovation. The Fish and Game commision designated it an ecological reserve in 1986. It was then purchased by a conservation group in 1996 and established as the Bair Island Ecological Reserve. A 33-year renovation project was finalized in 2015, breaking the last levy to restore it to its natural state as a tidal wetland.

As an important stop along the Pacific Birdway, many species of aviary life can be found throughout the year. Home to the endangered California clapper rail and the Salt marsh harvest mouse, these islands are the largest undeveloped island in the San Francisco Bay area.

Although annually closed from February 15th through May 20th, it is a refreshing and invigoratingly gorgeous area to behold. You can not only view wildlife, but fishing and hunting are also available with the proper permits. These permits can easily be purchased online by clicking www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing and learning more about any restrictions. You can also enjoy kayaking through the narrow, winding sloughs of Bair Island, possibly spotting the occasional harbor seal!

Stay at Pacific Inn Redwood City

While enjoying your visit to this historical reserve, stay at Pacific Inn Redwood City. Located less than 4.5 miles southeast of this beautiful wetland, the Pacific Inn Redwood City offers the lowest rates by booking directly at www.pacificinnrwc.com.