The Lanphere Dunes before a storm
The Lanphere Dunes, a unit of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, is located in Humboldt County, California. Its placement adjacent to Humboldt Bay and near the cities of Arcata and Eureka makes it easily accessible to visit. The dune complex consists of the waveslope, foredune, herbaceous and woody swales, coniferous and riparian forest, freshwater swamp, freshwater marsh, brackish marsh, salt marsh, and intertidal mudlfats. The area was historically occupied by Wiyot prior to European settlement when, in the 1930s, William and Hortense Lanphere made it their home. For the next 40 years they maintained the dunes in a relatively pristine state. In 1975 a movement for permanent protection was made by the Lanpheres and faculty from Humboldt State University who used the area for botany classes. Working with The Nature Conservancy the area was protected and eventually turned over to—and now managed by—the National Wildlife Refuge System. The site is an extraordinary example of dunes succession and as a fragile ecosystem, access is restricted and guided tours are available. Management focuses on the prevention and eradication of invasive plants and the restoration of dune and estuarine processes.