General Use Regulations Ecological Reserves

California hunting seasons for California ecological reserves, and general use regulations Ecological Reserves

On this page, you’ll find a summary of general use regulations Ecological Reserves, which have been designated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) as “Wildlife Areas” [14 CCR § 630].  For a summary of general regulations for using all wildlife areas, click here. For refuge-specific regulations, select a reserve from our menu.

All references are to Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (14 CCR §) unless noted otherwise.


There are nearly 140 Ecological Reserves located in California, 44 of which allow hunting.  Of those, only nine allow waterfowl hunting.  First, and foremost, Ecological Reserves exist for the  “protection of rare, threatened, or endangered native plants, wildlife, aquatic organisms, and specialized terrestrial or aquatic habitat types”  All public use must be compatible with those goals and in compliance with general and reserve-specific regulations in Sections 550, 550.5, and 630., plus any others that may apply (e.g. waterfowl regulations) [ref. § 630(a)].

General Use Rules

In this Section we cover rules for general use of any reserve. Refuge specific rules are covered in the next Section for Reserve Hunting Rules. There, you’ll find any additional rules or restrictions.


In general, you can only use a bow and arrow when hunting is allowed at the reserve. However, there may be additional rules and restrictions at the specific reserve. See 14 CCR § 630(d) and 14 CCR § 550(cc)(4)(B) for restrictions.


In general, you cannot use a bicycle at a reserve. However, there are exceptions for specific reserves. See 14 CCR § 630(g) for exceptions.


In general, you cannot use a boat at any reserve. However, there are exceptions at specific reserves. See 14 CCR § 630(f) and 14 CCR § 550(z)(2) for exceptions.


You cannot camp at any ecological reserve. See 14 CCR § 550(p)(3).


The CDFW can close all or parts of any ecological reserve, either all together, for a particular season, or specific activities. The can only do it in order to provide safety, protect natural or cultural resource, reduce crowding, reduce or avoid environmental disturbance, or limit the take of any species See 14 CCR § 630(h) for closures and 14 CCR § 550(c)(2)(D). We also note them on each reserve page.

Dogs for Hunting

If you’re using a hunting dogs, you must comply with California Dog Hunting Laws. In general, you cannot train them at any reserve. However, there are exceptions at specific reserves. See 14 CCR § 630(i) for exceptions and 14 CCR § 550(n). Also see Pets below.


Falconry is not allowed at any ecological reserve. See 14 CCR § 550(dd)(1).


In general, you can use firearms when hunting is allowed at the reserve. However, there may be additional rules and restrictions for the specific reserve. See 14 CCR § 550(cc)(4)(B) for rules and restrictions.


You cannot make fires at any ecological reserve. See 14 CCR § 550(q)(2).


In general, you can fish for sport at any reserve, but only from shore. However, there are exceptions for using boats at specific reserves. You cannot fish commercially at any reserve. See 14 CCR § 630(e) for exceptions.

Horses & Pack Animals

In general, horses and pack animals are not allowed at any reserve. However, there are exceptions are specific reserves. See 14 CCR § 630(g) for exceptions.


In general, hunting is not allowed at any reserve. However, there are exceptions are specific reserves. See 14 CCR § 630(d) for exceptions. When hunting is allowed, you can only hunt in designated areas. CDFW maps are for general guidance only. The official boundaries are at the Sacramento office. You can also find the online and most of our reserve pages. See 14 CCR § 630(a).


Some ecological reserves require an entry permit, which are usually at a self-registration boot. Some reserves also issue permits at a check station. All application rules and regulations are incorporated by reference into your entry permit and are a condition for use. Warning shot!!! Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for noncompliance. See 14 CCR § 630(a) and Special Use Permits below.


In general, all pets must be kept on a leash, which has to be no longer than ten feet. In the alternative, you can keep your pet inside your vehicle. There are additional rules and restrictions at specific areas. Pay attention to signs posted at the reserve. See14 CCR § 550(m)14 CCR § 551(n), and Also see Dogs for Hunting above.

Special Use Permits

If you want to do something at a reserve that’s not specifically allowed, you need a Special Use Permit from the reserve manager. See 14 CCR § 550.5(d)(6) and (7).


In general, you cannot swim at any reserve. However, there are exceptions are specific reserves. See 14 CCR § 630(f) for exceptions.

Target Shooting

In general, you cannot do target practice at any reserve. However, there are exceptions at specific reserve. When allowed, you can only do it in designated ares. See 14 CCR § 630(j).

Wildlife Viewing

In general, wildlife viewing is allowed at all reserves. However, a daily or annual pass is required at specific reserves (Elkhart and Upper Newport Bay). See 14 CCR § 630(c).

Ecological Reserves (Alphabetical)

  1. Agua Hedionda Lagoon, San Diego County
  2. Albany Mudflats, Alameda County
  3. Alkali Sink, Fresno County
  4. Allensworth, Tulare County
  5. Apricum Hill, Amador County
  6. Atascadero Creek Marsh, Sonoma County
  7. Bair Island, San Mateo County
  8. Bakersfield Cactus Ecological Reserve, Kern County
  9. Baldwin Lake, San Bernardino County
  10. Ballona Wetlands, Los Angeles County
  11. Batiquitos Lagoon, San Diego County
  12. Big Table Mountain, Fresno County
  13. Blue Ridge, Tulare County
  14. Blue Sky, San Diego County
  15. Bobelaine, Sutter County
  16. Boden Canyon, San Diego County
  17. Boggs Lake, Lake County
  18. Bolsa Chica, Orange County
  19. Bonny Doon, Santa Cruz County
  20. Boulder Creek/Rutherford Ranch, San Diego County
  21. Buena Vista Creek, San Diego County
  22. Buena Vista Lagoon, San Diego County
  23. Burton Mesa, Santa Barbara County
  24. Butler Slough, Tehama County
  25. Butte Creek Canyon, Butte County
  26. Butte Creek House, Butte County
  27. Buttonwillow, Kern County
  28. By-Day Creek, Mono County
  29. Calhoun Cut, Solano County
  30. Cambria Pines Ecological Reserve, San Luis Obispo County;
  31. Canada de los Osos, Santa Clara County
  32. Canebrake, Kern County
  33. Carlsbad Highlands, San Diego County
  34. Carrizo Canyon, Riverside County
  35. Carrizo Plains, San Luis Obispo County, including the American, Panorama, Elkhorn Plain, North Chimineas, and South Chimineas Units
  36. China Point, Siskiyou County
  37. Chorro Creek, San Luis Obispo County
  38. Clover Creek, Shasta County
  39. Coachella Valley, Riverside County
  40. Coal Canyon, Orange County
  41. Coldwater Canyon, Ventura County
  42. Corral Hollow, San Joaquin County
  43. Corte Madera Marsh, Marin County
  44. Cosumnes River, Sacramento County
  45. Crestridge, San Diego County
  46. Dales Lake, Tehama County
  47. Del Mar Mesa/Lopez Ridge, San Diego County
  48. Del Monte Dunes, Monterey County
  49. Eden Landing, Alameda County
  50. Elkhorn Slough (National Estuarine Research Reserve), Monterey County
  51. Estelle Mountain, Riverside County
  52. Fagan Marsh, Napa County
  53. Fall River Mills, Shasta County
  54. Fish Slough, Inyo and Mono counties
  55. Fremont Valley, Kern County
  56. Goleta Slough, Santa Barbara County
  57. Harrison Grade, Sonoma County
  58. Headwaters Forest, Humboldt County
  59. Hidden Palms, Riverside County
  60. Indian Joe Springs, Inyo County
  61. Joshua Creek Canyon, Monterey County
  62. Kaweah, Tulare County
  63. Kerman, Fresno County
  64. King Clone, San Bernardino County
  65. Laguna Laurel, Orange County
  66. Lake Hodges, San Diego County
  67. Lake Mathews, Riverside County
  68. Leek Springs, El Dorado County
  69. Liberty Island Ecological Reserve, Solano County;
  70. Limestone Salamander, Mariposa County
  71. Little Butte, Mendocino County
  72. Little Red Mountain, Mendocino County
  73. Loch Lomond Vernal Pool, Lake County
  74. Lokern, Kern County
  75. Macklin Creek, Nevada County
  76. Magnesia Spring, Riverside County
  77. Marin Islands, Marin County
  78. Mattole River, Mendocino County
  79. McGinty Mountain, San Diego County
  80. Meadowbrook, San Diego County
  81. Moro Cojo, Monterey County
  82. Morro Dunes, including the Bayview Unit, San Luis Obispo County
  83. Morro Rock, San Luis Obispo County
  84. Napa River, Napa County
  85. North Table Mountain, Butte County
  86. Oasis Springs, Riverside County
  87. Offshore Rocks and Pinnacles, coastal counties
  88. Otay Mountain, San Diego County
  89. Owl Creek, Humboldt County
  90. Palo Verde, Riverside County
  91. Panoche Hills, Fresno County
  92. Peninsular Ranges, Riverside County
  93. Peytonia Slough, Solano County
  94. Phoenix Field, Sacramento County
  95. Pilgrim Creek, San Diego County
  96. Pine Hill, El Dorado County including the Salmon Falls Unit
  97. Piute Creek, San Bernardino County
  98. Plaisted Creek, San Diego County
  99. Pleasant Valley, Fresno County
  100. Quail Hollow, Santa Cruz County
  101. Quail Ridge, Napa County
  102. Rancho Jamul, including the Headquarters Unit, San Diego County
  103. Redwood Shores, San Mateo County
  104. River Springs Lakes, Mono County
  105. Saline Valley, Inyo County
  106. San Antonio Valley Ecological Reserve, Santa Clara County;
  107. San Bruno Mountain, San Mateo County
  108. San Diego River, San Diego County
  109. San Dieguito Lagoon, San Diego County
  110. San Elijo Lagoon, San Diego County
  111. San Felipe Creek, Imperial County
  112. San Joaquin River, Fresno and Madera Counts
  113. San Luis Rey River, San Diego County
  114. Sands Meadow Ecological Reserve, Tuolumne County;
  115. Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander, Santa Cruz County
  116. Santa Rosa Plain Vernal Pool, Sonoma County, including the Hall Road, Todd Road, Wikiup and Yuba Drive Units
  117. Santa Rosa Plateau, Riverside County
  118. Semitropic, Kern County
  119. Sky Valley, Riverside County
  120. Springville, Tulare County
  121. Stone Corral, Tulare County
  122. Stone Ridge, Butte County
  123. Sycamore Canyon, Riverside County
  124. Sycuan Peak, San Diego County
  125. Table Bluff, Humboldt County
  126. Theiller Sebastopol Meadowfoam, Sonoma County
  127. Thomes Creek, Tehama County
  128. Tomales Bay, Marin County
  129. Upper Newport Bay, Orange County
  130. Vernalis Ecological Reserve, San Joaquin County;
  131. Walker Canyon, San Diego County
  132. Watsonville Slough, Santa Cruz County
  133. West Mojave Desert, San Bernardino County
  134. Woodbridge, San Joaquin County
  135. Yaudanchi, Tulare County
  136. Yorkville, Mendocino County

[Ref. Sec. 630(b)]

Ecological Reserves (by County)

Jamie:  put all these counties in alphabetical order, and then put each ecological reserve under the right county like the one for Alameda

Alameda County

  • Albany Mudflats
  • Eden Landing

Butte County

  • Butte Creek Canyon
  • Butte Creek House
  • North Table Mountain
  • Stone Ridge
  • Coastal counties
  • Offshore Rocks and Pinnacles Del NorteCounty
  • Apricum Hill ER

El Dorado County

  • Pine Hill, including the Salmon Falls Unit
  • Leek Springs
  • Liberty Island Ecological Reserve

Fresno County

  • Alkali Sink
  • Big Table Mountain
  • Kerman
  • San Joaquin River
  • Panoche Hills
  • Pleasant Valley

Humboldt County

  • Headwaters Forest
  • Owl Creek
  • Table Bluff

Imperial County

  • San Felipe Creek

Inyo County

  • Indian Joe Springs
  • Saline Valley
  • San Antonio Valley Ecological Reserve
  • Fish Slough

Kern County

  • Bakersfield Cactus Ecological Reserve,
  • ButtonwillowCanebrake
  • Fremont Valley
  • Lokern
  • Semitropic

Lake County

  • Boggs Lake
  • Loch Lomond Vernal Pool

Los Angeles County

  • Ballona Wetlands

Madera County

  • San Joaquin

Marin County

  • Corte Madera Marsh
  • Marin Islands
  • Tomales Bay

Mariposa County

  • Limestone Salamander

Mendocino County

  • Little Butte
  • Mattole River
  • Little Red Mountain
  • Yorkville

Mono County

  • By-Day Creek
  • Fish Slough
  • River Springs Lakes

Monterey County

  • Del Monte Dunes
  • Moro Cojo
  • Joshua Creek Canyon
  • Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve (National Estuarine Research Reserve)

Napa County

  • Fagan Marsh
  • Napa River
  • Quail Ridge

Nevada County

  • Macklin Creek

Orange County

  • Coal Canyon
  • Laguna Laurel
  • Upper Newport Bay
  • Bolsa Chica

Riverside County

  • Carrizo Canyon
  • Coachella Valley
  • Estelle Mountain
  • Lake Mathews
  • Hidden Palms
  • Magnesia Spring
  • Oasis Springs
  • Peninsular Ranges
  • Palo Verde
  • Santa Rosa Plateau
  • Sycamore Canyon
  • Sky Valley

Sacramento County

  • Cosumnes River
  • Phoenix Field

San Bernardino County

  • Baldwin Lake
  • King Clone
  • Piute Creek
  • West Mojave Desert

San Diego County

  • Agua Hedionda Lagoon
  • Batiquitos Lagoon
  • Blue Sky
  • Boden Canyon
  • Boulder Creek/Rutherford Ranch
  • Buena Vista Creek
  • Buena Vista Lagoon
  • Carlsbad Highlands
  • Crestridge
  • Del Mar Mesa/Lopez Ridge
  • Lake Hodges
  • McGinty Mountain
  • San Diego River
  • San Dieguito Lagoon
  • San Elijo Lagoon
  • Sands Meadow Ecological Reserve
  • San Luis Rey River
  • Sycuan Peak
  • Walker Canyon
  • Meadowbrook
  • Otay Mountain
  • Pilgrim Creek
  • Plaisted Creek
  • Rancho Jamul, including the Headquarters Unit

San Joaquin County

  • Corral Hollow
  • Woodbridge
  • Vernalis Ecological Reserve

San Luis Obispo County

  • Cambria Pines Ecological Reserve
  • Carrizo Plain, including the American, Panorama, Elkhorn Plain, North Chimineas, and South Chimineas Units
  • Chorro Creek
  • Morro Dunes, including the Bayview Unit
  • Morro Rock

San Mateo County

  • Bair Island
  • Redwood Shores
  • San Bruno Mountain

Santa Barbara County

  • Burton Mesa
  • Goleta Slough

Santa Clara County

  • Canada de los Osos

Santa Cruz County

  • Bonny Doon
  • Quail Hollow
  • Watsonville Slough
  • Santa Cruz Long-toed Salamander

Shasta County

  • Clover Creek
  • Fall River Mills

Siskiyou County

  • China Point

Solano County

  • Calhoun Cut
  • Peytonia Slough

Sonoma County

  • Atascadero Creek Marsh
  • Harrison Grade
  • Theiller Sebastopol Meadowfoam
  • Santa Rosa Plain Vernal Poo, including the Hall Road, Todd Road, Wikiup and Yuba Drive Units

Sutter County

  • Bobelaine

Tehama County

  • Butler Slough
  • Dales Lake
  • Thomes Creek

Tulare County

  • Allensworth
  • Blue Ridge
  • Springville
  • Kaweah
  • Stone Corral
  • Yaudanchi

Ventura County

  • Coldwater Canyon

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