Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve represent approximately 1,000 acres of open space. Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve surrounds the Ecological Reserve. The park includes the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center. Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve totals approximately 140 acres. The Nature Preserve is made up of the bluffs surrounding the Bay. Three sensitive species use the bluffs: The California Gnatcatcher, San Diego Cactus Wren, and Burrowing Owl. Two important plant communities are found on the bluffs - grasslands and coastal sage scrub. Upper Newport Ecological Reserve totals 752 acres. This coastal wetland, one of the largest in southern California , is renowned as one of the finest bird watching sites in North America. During winter migration up to 35,000 birds may be using the Bay at one time. It is home to six rare or endangered species: Light Footed Clapper Rail, Brown Pelican, Belding's Savannah Sparrow, Black Rail, Peregrine Falcon and California Least Tern. The Bay is home to one endangered plant species - Saltmarsh Bird's Beak. Considered a "critical estuary" habitat - Upper Newport Bay is one of the most pristine remaining estuaries in Southern California.

Orange County Parks is responsible for managing the 140 acre Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve, which includes upland areas on the north side of the Bay in the vicinity of the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center, and on the east side of Back Bay Drive from Big Canyon to Eastbluff Drive.