Brochure of Benicia State Recreation Area (SRA) in California. Published by California Department of Parks and Recreation.
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Our Mission Benicia State Recreation Area The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. The tidal marsh— where the rivers meet the bay—forms a unique habitat, home to rare and endangered plants and wildlife. California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (707) 648-1911. If you need this publication in an alternate format, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service www.parks.ca.gov Benicia State Recreation Area 1 State Park Road Benicia, CA 94510 (707) 648-1911 © 2009 California State Parks (Rev. 2018) Printed on Recycled Paper T he combined waters of fourteen tributaries of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers surge through the Carquinez Strait, past Benicia State Recreation Area, and west into San Pablo Bay on their way to the Pacific Ocean. Over the past 150 years, these waters have carried silt and clay from historic hydraulic gold mines and timber logging sites of the Sierra and deposited the particles where fresh water meets salt water at Southampton Bay. The mudflat and marsh make up most of the recreation area, providing habitat for some unusual and endangered species. The climate may be windy and cool year-round, with frequent fog. Summer temperatures may reach 101 degrees; in winter, average rainfall is 3 inches with temperatures dipping to 40 degrees. PARK HISTORY Native Americans Today’s Solano County was first settled by the Patwin, who spoke the Southern Wintuan language. Historians estimate that about 3,300 Southern Patwin lived in the area before European encroachment. From 1800 through the 1820s, Spanish Franciscan padres from Mission Dolores, Mission San José, and Mission San Francisco Solano tried to convert the Southern Patwin to Catholicism. After the mission era ended in 1834, Mexican commandant General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo used these new converts, called neophytes, as a labor force to work on his vast land holdings—nearly 175,000 acres. A century later, only about 200 Patwin were left—lost to deprivation and unfamiliar European diseases. Dillon eventually purchased the property; he built a brick kiln and began making red clay bricks. Sandstone and raw materials for the bricks were eventually exhausted. The Dillon family and subsequent owners tried sheep ranching and raising grapes until the State acquired the property for the Benicia State Recreation Area in 1967. Doña Francisca Benicia Euro-American Settlement Carrillo de Vallejo The city of Benicia was founded in 1847 by General Vallejo, Dr. Robert Semple, NATURAL HISTORY and Thomas O. Larkin. Benicia was originally Geology and Habitat named “Francisca” in honor of Vallejo’s wife, Nearly 70 percent of the parkland is tidal Doña Francisca Benicia Carrillo. marsh wetland, ringed by grassy hills and Francisca’s founders changed the town’s open water. The Southampton mudflat name to Benicia on June 12, 1847, after formed by upriver silt and clay deposits is nearby Yerba Buena was officially renamed more than 1,000 feet thick. The principal San Francisco. With its strategic location habitats here are brackish marsh, saltwater skirting Southampton Bay and the Carquinez marsh, and freshwater marsh. Strait, Benicia built the area’s first deepPlants and Wildlife water harbor capable of docking large ships. This rare and endangered wetland Park Property ecosystem is covered with marsh plants The sandstone point at Benicia SRA has such as salt grass, pickleweed, coyote been known as Rocky Point, Quarry Point, bush, and soft bird’s-beak. Bird’s-beak is an and now Dillon Point. Stonecutter Patrick endangered gray-green annual herb in the Dillon came to California from Tipperary, snapdragon family. Non-native trees provide Ireland, during the 1849 gold rush. He light shade at the park entrance and picnic settled in Benicia in 1851. General Vallejo table areas. Native plant communities such leased Dillon the tidal flat at Southampton as chaparral, valley grassland, and coastal Bay and Rocky Point peninsula for a scrub bloom on the hillsides. sandstone quarry. Native Plant Botanic Garden The Forrest Deaner Native Plant Botanic Garden represents over 250 species on 3.5 acres overlooking Southampton Bay. The garden pays tribute to the late Forrest Deaner, founder of the Willis Linn Jepson Chapter (Solano County) of the California Native Plant Society. In spring, colorful magenta redbuds, golden poppies, blue lupines, and pink-flowered currants bloom. Summer and early fall deepen native plant foliage into russets and browns. Several demonstration gardens—Memorial, Residential/Sensory, Native American, Butterfly/Hummingbird, Wildflower Meadow, and Riparian—display flora varieties, each marked with color-coded labels. The Botanic Garden is fully maintained by volunteers and funded through grants and individual donations. For more information, visit www.cnpsjepsonchapter.org. Wildlife Endangered northern salt marsh harvest mice depend on the park’s pickleweed for its dense cover. Marsh erosion, predators, and severe habitat loss have reduced this mouse population. Other park mammals include coyote, beaver, otter, and muskrat. Marine birds float lazily on thermal Salt marsh harvest updrafts at this mouse in pickleweed designated ACCESSIBLE FEATURES Important Bird The Mike Taugher Trail––a dualArea, which direction, paved, accessible provides trail––begins near the Military essential habitat West entrance and runs 0.75 for bird species. miles to the main park entrance, Virginia rails, joining Dillon Point Road for endangered 1.5 miles. California A portable restroom at clapper rails, Military West is designated and black rails accessible. For updates, see hide in marsh http://access.parks.ca.gov. vegetation. PLEASE REMEMBER Visitors may • Park is open from 8 a.m. to see herons and sunset daily. egrets fishing or pelicans Sweeping marsh and bay views • Pay the day-use vehicle fee at entrance. and terns • Dogs must be on a leash no more than diving. The marsh resounds with Suisun six-feet long. Dogs and bikes are not song sparrows and saltmarsh common allowed on marsh nature trails. yellowthroats. On their journey along the • Tent camping is not permitted. For a fee, Pacific Flyway, many waterfowl winter in the RVs may camp en route for one night, park, such as Canada geese or canvasback space permitting, near the park entrance. and goldeneye ducks. RECREATION The park has 2.25 miles of paved road and bike paths. Dogs and bicycles are allowed on the Benicia Bay Trail, part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. California State Parks built the Benicia Bay Trail in collaboration with the Bay Area Ridge Trail Coalition and the San Francisco Bay Trail Foundation. Dillon Point offers prime shore fishing for sturgeon, starry flounder, and striped bass. Anglers age 16 and over must carry a valid California fishing license. NEARBY STATE PARKS • Benicia Capitol State Historic Park 115 West G St., Benicia (707) 745-3385 • Sonoma State Historic Park 363 Third Street West (at the Mission), Sonoma (707) 938-9560 This park receives support in part from the nonprofit Benicia State Parks Association, P.O. Box 404, Benicia, CA 94510 (707) 745-3385 Rose Dr Co lum bu s Legend rk Pa (No Public Access) oint Road Dillon P Pay Station Freeway Paved Road P Benicia Stat e Maintenance Yard Park Buildings y 780 kw to Vallejo State Recreation Area R oad Park Entrance M i ke Trail: Accessible T au Trail: Hike gh Trail: Hike & Bike ll o n Po i Dogs Allowed on Leash Parking Fishing Picnic Area Locked Gate Restrooms Marsh Area Viewpoint Sonoma 15 Kilometers 80 SAN FRANCISCO Oakland y 10 Eastshore SP Ba 5 SF 0 Golden Gate 101 NRA 300 Southampton 400 Meters to Carquinez Bridge BENICIA S TAT E R E C R E AT I O N AREA i ci aB FORREST DEANER NATIVE PLANT BOTANIC GARDEN ay T rail ra e T il idg R a Bay Are Be nic i Berkeley Angel Island SP 10 Miles 5 780 Benicia Capitol Benicia SHP San Rafael 580 Mt Tamalpais SP Tiburon 1 0 680 Benicia SRA China Camp SP 1,200 Feet ail Vallejo San Pablo Bay 200 Trespassing on fragile salt marsh areas is prohibited by law. Approved study permits are required. For information/application, visit http://www.parks.ca.gov/studypermits Ridge Tr Ba y Area 29 37 100 800 Be n Novato 400 Napa 121 Samuel P. Taylor SP Pacific Ocean 0 Sonoma Olompali SHP NO PUBLIC ACCESS 0 29 116 Petaluma Tomales Bay SP 12 SHP Glen Cove aB ay Tra i PG&E Power Transmission Tower Candlestick Point SRA © 2009 California State Parks (Rev. 2018) Map by Eureka Cartography, Berkeley, CA Ba Carquinez Strait West et ge re St Rid rea yA No Dogs Allowed Military K Accessible Feature to Downtown Benicia 780 WETLAND N AT U R A L P R E S E RV E ad Ro Garden Area Petaluma Adobe SHP S O U T H A M P T O N B AY nt Natural Preserve 101 Pay Station Di Intermittent Stream 1 er T rail l Dillon Point Bay Tr a il