Restoring the Health of Coastal Environments and Community Connection to Them Through Restoration


Stewardship of coastal environments is a key component to our mission. Human introduced invasive non-native plants disrupt the balance of coastal ecosystems by crowding out native plants and changing ecological functions. We believe that we can make a positive difference in restoring coastal environments to a more natural state with the help of people like you. The majority of our efforts are focused on restoring coastal dunes, but we also take part in salt marsh and bay restoration projects.


Our restoration projects incorporate education components to help participants understand the importance of their efforts. We can help you plan outreach events for groups and classrooms about dune restoration efforts on the North Spit. Contact us to set something up.

Every year we help coordinate and plan large restoration events such as the Annual Lupine Bash, Coastal Clean-up Day, Humboldt State Universities Orientation Program and the list goes on. We also host student groups from all over the United States that are part of a nation-wide Alternative Spring BreakAway Program.


You can get involved by volunteering to participate in a regularly scheduled Saturday volunteer workday or by participating in our volunteer Drop-in Restoration Program at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center.



Fall 2019

September 12 to October 24, 2019

Thursday Class Sessions (6 to 8:30 p.m.) and Sunday Field Sessions (8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)

Graduation will be held on Thursday, October 24 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

For more information, please email us .  
















The Coastal Naturalist Training is a 6-week course that will introduce you to wonders of our local ecology and engage you in the stewardship of California’s natural communities. The course will combine a junior college level introductory science course curriculum with classroom and field experiences, guest lecturers, and project-based learning to immerse you in the natural world of the Humboldt Bay region and coastal dune ecosystem. Guest lecturers and field instructors include professors, geologists, botanists, biologists, long-time naturalists, and other local experts. Upon completion of course requirements, participants will earn a California Naturalist Certificate through the UC California Naturalist Program and are eligible for an optional four UC Davis Extension academic credits. The course is for community members interested in expanding their knowledge of the coast, as well as students, teachers, naturalists, and environmental educators seeking professional development. While you may take the course strictly for your own enjoyment, the course will also prepare you to become an active volunteer with Friends of the Dunes or other environmental organizations.


Participants should be able to hike several miles in soft sand while carrying their own supplies (field notebook, water, lunch, and snacks). We will be traveling at an easy pace but will be in the field for up to 5 hours per field trip.


Course Fee: $375 or $350 for Friends of the Dunes Members, Peninsula Residents & students.

Additional Fees (optional): $30 for kayak rental, $80 for 4 academic credits.


Required Course Materials:

  • The California Naturalist Handbook by Greg de Nevers, Deborah Stanger Edelman & Adina Merenlender

  • Coastal Naturalist Manual published by Friends of the Dunes*

  • Field notebook (optional: colored pencils)


*Available at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center at a discounted price for course participants.

 InstructorJennifer Ortega has a variety of environmental education experience including time as a middle school science teacher, an education ranger for Redwood National & State Parks, and coordinator of education programs at Humboldt State University's Natural History Museum. Currently, she is a faculty member at Humboldt State University teaching Environmental Education and Interpretation. Jennifer is a Master Certified Environmental Educator and Project Learning Tree, WET and WILD facilitator. Her favorite place to be is in the outdoors with family and friends.

Please call (707) 444-1397 or email us to sign up for

this year's Coastal Naturalist Training.



Friends of the Dunes offers guided walks and programs on various topics at different levels of ability from novice to advanced. Please see our Calendar of Events for our upcoming scheduled walks.


Each quarter, we publish a listing of walks and workshops that take place at various coastal locations around the Humboldt Bay area. The majority of these walks take place on the North Spit of the Samoa Peninsula at the Friends of the Dunes Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, the Manila Dunes Recreation Area, and the Lanphere and Ma-le'l Dunes Units of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge.


We ask that you please call and pre-register for walks, or email us. All walks and workshops are free unless otherwise noted. Private tours require two weeks notice.





Friends of the Dunes offers fall and spring field trip programs designed for grades K-5. Our programs focus on giving students the hands-on experiences in nature that are crucial for developing a true understanding of the natural world. The trips are focused on local ecosystems and provide students with outdoor experiences in their own “backyards.” Trained volunteer guides lead students through educational games and activities in different habitats, and alter the activities to fit the age group.


Field Trip options:

Through partnerships with local organizations and agencies, we are expanding our field trip options and locations to better meet the needs of different schools. Scholarships and bus funding are available on a first come, first served basis.



Our classic 4-5 hour field trip is preceded by a classroom presentation with an interactive PowerPoint and hands-on activities. On field trip day, students spend half the day in small groups of 8-15 exploring the dunes, and half of the day at the bay and freshwater marshes, with a lunch break in between. At the bay we dip net for invertebrates in a freshwater pond, explore the saltmarsh & mudflats, and observe birds on the bay. In the dunes, we identify animal tracks, talk about plant adaptations, learn how the sand moves to form the dunes, pull invasive European Beachgrass, and have some free time at the beach. This field trip takes place at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center and the Manila Community Park. We can accommodate 2 classes (about 50 students), per field trip.

For more information or to sign-up your class, please

 email us or call us at (707) 444-1397.


The Humboldt Coastal Nature Center is home to a Redwood EdVentures Quest! A quest is a scavenger hunt with interpretive clues leading you through many North Coast parks. Each quest takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete. At the end of your EdVenture, you’ll find a final phrase, write this down and bring it back to the Nature Center to receive an official Redwood EdVentures Quest patch! Download the quest brochure for the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center below, and visit the Redwood EdVentures website for more quest locations.



Nature Story Time is geared for ages 3-6 and takes place every 3rd Saturday of the month from 2 to 3 p.m. Bring your young nature lovers to the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center for a seasonally themed story followed by fun movement activities and a simple craft project. Come prepared to explore the trails after the story, the Nature Center is about a 15-minute walk through coastal dunes to the beach.


For our next Nature Story Time, check out our calendar. For more information or to reserve a space, please email us .