Big Break Delta Shoreline Trail
Big Break Regional Shoreline is a part of the great 1150-square-mile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The water flowing past Big Break through the Sacramento and San Joaquin-the State's two greatest rivers-drains half of California and creates the largest estuarine environment on the Pacific coast. This area is also referred to as the "Inland Coast."
Big Break was once an upland farm, now submerged. It is a small bay or estuary at the edge of the San Joaquin River, and lies in the zone where salty seawater meets snowmelt and runoff from the Sierra Nevada mountains. The mixing of salty and fresh water produces an "edge effect" increasing habitat and species diversity. It makes Big Break a fine home or stopover spot for a wide variety of species, particularly birds and fish.
Big Break is home to 70 species of birds and several species of mammals. Twenty-seven special-status wildlife species have the potential to occur within the parkland; six special-status wildlife species are known to occur. Nesting is confirmed or suspected for black rails, northern harriers, white-tailed kites, and yellow-breasted chats. Many wading birds, including great blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, green herons, and white-faced ibis, forage in the tidal sloughs and freshwater marshes. These areas also provide habitat for Western pond turtles, a California Species of Special Concern. Big Break is a suitable breeding habitat for turtles, and females can lay their eggs in the sandy banks and well-drained upland soils. The tidal sloughs, freshwater marsh, and riparian areas also provide valuable habitat for beavers, muskrats, and river otters, which forage and potentially den at Big Break.