Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

There’s a special area on the San Mateo County coast just north of Half Moon Bay that attracts thousands of visitors each year.  So special, in fact, it’s protected under local, state, and federal designations to ensure that it remains that way for future generations.   The James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve (Reserve) is one of many places on San Mateo County’s coastline where residents and visitors can enjoy being in, on, and near the water.  Visitors to this County Park walk the beach, explore the tidepools, watch harbor seals, kayak, and hike in an area whose incredible diversity of marine life makes it well worth protecting.

Although the Reserve is protected under various state and federal designations, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ongoing environmental impacts.  About seven thousand County residents live and work in the watershed that drains to the Reserve, including the communities of Moss Beach and Montara.  When it rains, pollutants in these drainages are washed into our storm drain systems and discharged directly into the Reserve’s delicate ecosystem.  This includes things like trash, pesticides, fertilizers, vehicle fluids, and potentially harmful bacteria in pet and livestock waste.  Because of these issues, San Mateo County is partnering with multiple agencies, including the State Water Resources Control Board, the San Francisco Estuary Institute, the San Mateo Resource Conservation District, UC Davis, and others, to identify upstream actions that will help protect this very special place.

So far, these grant-funded efforts include monitoring the different creeks draining to the Reserve to determine levels of various pollutants, installing vegetated “treatment swales” in neighborhoods to capture, slow down, and treat stormwater runoff before it reaches the ocean, testing other kinds of stormwater treatment and filtering devices to determine effectiveness in removing pollutants, educating upstream residents about their potential impacts on the Reserve and providing guidance on green landscaping designs and practices, and partnering with pet and livestock owners on managing animal waste to reduce bacteria issues. Find all this and more on the ASBS website.

Even though these agencies are making significant progress toward solutions to some of the problems facing the Reserve, there are plenty of things you can do to help, regardless of where you may live within the County.  From using less-toxic pest control methods to installing rain barrels to picking up after your pets to taking your car to a car wash to joining a cleanup event to help pick up trash, there are lots of simple individual actions that collectively make a big difference in creating healthy communities.  Join our Team Effort and take an active role in making sure places like the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve continue to be a big part of the reason we all love to call San Mateo County home.


We want to hear from you! 
What do you know about pollution prevention and the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve?


Take a tour! 

The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve require groups of 10 or more people to make tour reservations. 

Please refer to the San Mateo County Parks reservation website for more information:

Or give them a call at 1-650-363-4021.