California Current Conservation Complex

Photo in the Public Domain.

California Current Conservation Complex is part of the Tentative list of United States of America in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

The California Current Conservation Complex includes a contiguous group of nationally-protected seashores, marine sanctuaries, and wildlife reserves along the central California coast. The Pacific shoreline of the complex is an area of exceptional natural beauty, while the offshore Monterey Canyon, Davidson Seamount, and Cordell Bank exhibit dynamic geological processes still being studied by scientists. The rich marine habitat found within the California Current ecosystem is fueled by coastal upwelling, and supports migratory populations of sea turtles, fish, sea birds, and marine mammals, including the endangered blue whale.

Map of California Current Conservation Complex

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

Community Reviews

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Jarek Pokrzywnicki

Polska - 22-Mar-24 -

California Current Conservation Complex (T) by Jarek Pokrzywnicki

California Current Conservation Complex - Golden Gate National Recreation Area– visited October, 2023, during 2-weeks USA trip (rented car). In fact Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a huge complex of different state parks and other reserves including Alcatraz, Muir Woods (redwoods) located south, west and north-west of San Francisco. Probably the easiest component to visit if you are in San Francisco is the area near Golden Gate Bridge, on both sides of San Francisco Bay. Personally I focused on northern part. And additionally – if you drive north from San Francisco, crossing the bridge is free.

Just after crossing the bridge – to the right there is a parking space - H. Dana Bowers Rest Area & Vista Point – Northbound – good place to leave the car and start exploring Golden Gate Bridge on foot (also good views of San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz Island). Also the space around is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Golden Gate Bridge as a historical landmark may also has its place on UNESCO list one day as engineering masterpiece.

Better panoramas of the bridge are from area near Spencer Battery (google coordinates 37.827697856528495, -122.48177038786507, destroyed fortifications on the other side of highway, access via Bunker Road / Baker Battery Tunnel and Conzelman Road – one way traffic only). There are several view points but the best are probably from Short Range Battery (few meters from Spencer Battery). All those places are within Golden Gate National Recreation Area but probably history is the most interesting aspect there.

For more natural places I went to Rodeo Beach (beginning of coastal trail – google coordinates 37.83228831057007, -122.53966878841393, access via Bunker Rd and Mitchell Rd, big parking space at the end). Area seem to be very popular, there are a lot of different trails, picknick sites natural beach (Rodeo Beach). Coastal Trail allows to explore seaside area (rocky coast with occasional bays, cliffs, steep slopes) – mostly barren landscape with grass / heather. Area is also full of military traces, some visible from quite big distance – like Battery Townsley on the top of the hill some just hidden in the bushes.

Just visited small part of one component (out of five) but it is very interesting. And because of huge numbers of historical landmarks (Golden Gate, Alcatraz, lots of military forts) maybe mixed status would be more appropriate.

More info about the area – official site of National Park Service (recommended website to receive basic data before any visit to USA National Park)

Places on the photo, bottom left, than clockwise: Rock outcrop near Battery Spencer, Golden Gate from Conzelman Rd, Coastal Trail, Rodeo Beach

Kyle Magnuson

California - United States of America - 23-Apr-17 -

California Current Conservation Complex (T) by Kyle Magnuson

The California Current Conservation Complex is an incredible, dramatic and ecologically important coastline and marine area stretching from Point Piedras Blancas in the South and Point Arena in the North. As the crow flies, 425 km separate these two points. In between, is a diverse mishmash of state parks, marine reserves, conservation areas, national seashores, national recreation areas, and a national monument that spans the whole California coast. The Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and California State Parks manage most of these special lands and seawaters.

The predecessor to this whole scheme called California Current Conservation Complex is the designation of the California Coastal National Monument in 2000, which was recently expanded twice by President Obama in 2014 and 2016. There are several gateway communities to begin exploring this vast coastline: Piedras Blancas - San Simeon, Pigeon Point, and Point Arena. To learn more information about this region, Monterey is the ideal starting point. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is splendid and certainly the best aquarium in California. From Monterey you can head south toward Big Sur or north to further explore Monterey Bay before arriving to Santa Cruz. Despite its more famous southern neighbor the North Coast and Coast Dairies are as dramatic, wild, and beautiful as any portion of the California coast.

Over the last decade, I’ve made dozens of excursions to different areas of this protected region. Each visit is rewarded with new discoveries that have increased my appreciation of “California’s [marine] Serengeti”. Exploring all components of the California Current Conservation Complex has been an ambition of mine (nearly there), but not easily reached since some portions are only accessible to scientists. I’ve viewed one of the keystone species (Sea Otter) on more than one occasion in the Monterey Bay region; it’s fascinating to see this mammal use stones to crack open sea urchins! Several species of whales, seals, dolphins, and sharks are also not uncommon sightings.

This is an ambitious nomination, and it will be difficult to compile such a complex dossier with so many stakeholders. However, I am confident IUCN will have little critique in regards to OUV.

Read more from Kyle Magnuson here.

Full Name
California Current Conservation Complex
United States of America
Natural landscape - Marine and Coastal
2017 Revision

Includes FTWHS Point Reyes National Seashore (1990)

2017 Added to Tentative List

The site has 6 locations

California Current Conservation Complex: Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (T)
California Current Conservation Complex: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (T)
California Current Conservation Complex: Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (T)
California Current Conservation Complex: Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge (T)
California Current Conservation Complex: Point Reyes National Seashore (T)
California Current Conservation Complex: Golden Gate National Recreation Area (T)
WHS 1997-2024