Mad River Slough Wildlife Area


The 587-acre Mad River Slough Wildlife Area was formerly part of Arcata Bay's extensive intertidal salt marsh and mudflats. Old tidal sloughs still meander through the land, which is periodically flooded during periods of heavy rain. Egrets and herons are found here. Red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, kestrels, harriers, kites, and osprey are all occasionally to commonly seen. The shorebirds commonly seen are dunlin, sandpiper, dowitcher, godwit, and willet among many others.

For more information, call the Northern Region Eureka office at (707) 445-6493.

Recreational Opportunities

Wildlife Viewing Waterfowl Hunting Hunting with Shotguns

NOTICE: The wildlife area is closed to public use from the Monday following the Youth Waterfowl Hunt (usually the first week of February) until April 1.

Activities: wildlife viewing, birdwatching, and hunting

Hunting: Waterfowl, coot, and snipe may be present.

Type C: Mad River Slough Wildlife Area does not require the purchase of a hunting pass for entry. Entry permits and/or passes or special drawing may be required for hunting on some Type C wildlife areas.

Facilities: None

NOTE: Visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all regulations pertaining to the use of Department lands.

Refer to the Public Uses on State and Federal Lands section of the Waterfowl, Upland Game, and Public Use Regulations (PDF) booklet for both statewide and property-specific regulations.

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You may not operate a drone on CDFW Lands without a Special Use Permit.

Area History

The property has been in use for agricultural purposes since the land was reclaimed around 1900. It was, at one time, four separate ranches prior to its consolidation by the Ford family. At one time or another, various portions of the property have been used for farming, dairy ranching and livestock grazing.

In 1984 the people of California passed the Proposition 19 Bond Act to provide funding for acquisition and enhancement of coastal wetlands. The Mad River Slough Wildlife Area was purchased by Proposition 19 funds. The property was designated as a wildlife area by the Fish and Game Commission in 1989.

Map of Mad River Slough WA - click to enlarge in new window
Click to enlarge


Northern Region (Region 1)

Humboldt County

just west of Arcata City limits

Access: From Highway 101 in Arcata, take Samoa Boulevard west to the Wildlife Area. Access is from the designated parking area only.

CDFW Lands Viewer