The Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve contains a critically important southern California estuary which supports many sensitive plant and animal species. The site includes extensive wetland, sub-tidal channel and emergent upland habitats. The Reserve is adjacent to a sandy beach, subtidal rocky reef, and kelp beds.

The reserve provides habitat for migratory waterfowl along with several species of plants and animals listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern, such as salt marsh bird’s-beak, light-footed clapper rail, and Belding’s savannah sparrow. It is also an important regional nursery for California halibut and other species of marine and estuarine fish.

The Carpinteria Salt Marsh (CSM) Nature Park and the neighboring portion of the marsh owned by the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County offer on-site interpretative trails, a teaching amphitheater, and public facilities.

For information about visiting the reserve, click here.

  • Administering Campus: UC Santa Barbara
  • Established: 1977
  • Location
    Santa Barbara County, west of city of Carpinteria; 32 km (20 mi) east of Santa Barbara campus.
  • Size
    49 ha (120 acres) owned by UC;
    93 ha (230 acres) total habitat area
  • Elevation
    1 m below mean sea level to 3 m above mean sea level (-3 to 10 ft)
  • Average Precipitation
    38 cm (15 in) per year
  • Average Temperatures
    August maximum: 24 C (75 F)
    January maximum: 6 C (42 F)
  • Personnel
    Reserve manager/NRS office on Santa Barbara campus; no on-site personnel.