Like state and national parks protect wildlife and habitats on land, marine protected areas (MPAs) conserve and restore wildlife and habitats in our ocean. Under the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) passed in 1999, California began a historic effort to establish a science-based, statewide network of MPAs through a collaborative effort that includes the California Department of Fish and Game and California State Parks. California is taking a regional approach to the design and implementation of MPAs, and has divided the state into five regions: the north coast, south coast, north central coast, central coast and San Francisco Bay.

MPAs contribute to healthier, more resilient ocean ecosystems that can better withstand a wide range of impacts such as pollution and climate change. By protecting entire ecosystems rather than focusing on a single species, MPAs are powerful tools for conserving and restoring ocean biodiversity, and protecting cultural resources, while allowing certain activities such as marine recreation and research. There is a global body of scientific evidence about the effectiveness of marine protected areas and reserves to restore marine ecosystems (

In the waters adjacent to Wilder Ranch State Park, there is one MPA, Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve.

Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve (SMR):

  Extends from the northern edge of Four-mile beach in the north to the northern edge of the beach at Natural Bridges State Beach in the south.  
  Along the rocky shore of Wilder Ranch State Park, visitors may spot sea stars, mussels, urchins, and anemones exposed during low tide.
  Permitted/Prohibited Uses:  No fishing. All take of living marine resources is prohibited.

This information does not replace the official regulatory language found in California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 632, including commercial allowances and restrictions. 

  A fishing license is required for any fishing.
  All existing take regulations still apply in addition to the ones listed above.
  Unless otherwise stated, all non-consumptive recreational activities are allowed.

Additional Resources:

For additional information on MPAs please visit the California Department of Fish and Game’s website:

For resources related to MPAs, please visit the Marine Protected Areas Education and Outreach Initiative’s website:

A virtual tour of the area Marine Protected Areas can be viewed by clicking this link:  MPA Virtual Tour.