Trinidad Head Area of Special Biological Significance

The Trinidad Head juts out from the rocky coastline, forming the sheltered Trinidad Bay.  In 1974 the giant kelp forests surrounding Trinidad Head were designated by the State of California as the Trinidad Head Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS), one of 34 in California. The ASBS at is shown on the map to the right.


The ASBS designation is intended to afford special protection to marine life through prohibition of waste discharges within ASBS areas. The kelp beds of Trinidad Head also represent a State-identified Critical Coastal Area (CCA).

Trinidad Bay’s status as an ASBS means that polluted discharges into this area are prohibited, however entities are able to  receive an exception, which allows discharges that do not alter natural water quality.  The City of Trinidad, the Trinidad Rancheria and the HSU Marine Lab have been permitted to discharge stormwater into the Bay and required to comply with the California Ocean Plan and Special Protections for ASBS.  The Special Protections requires extensive water quality monitoring to ensure that the stormwater discharges aren’t affecting the natural water quality and the organisms that live in the area.  The Trinidad Head ASBS monitoring program has shown that there have been number of exceedances of the natural water quality guidelines.The toxicity testing results were negative. Results of North Coast ASBS water quality monitoring, a bioaccumulation study and a rocky intertidal survey are available in three technical reports found in Resources.

The City, the Marine Lab and the Rancheria are have all completed projects to reduce pollutants from their discharges, and are developing plans to eliminate their stormwater discharge into the ASBS by diverting and treating their stormwater using Low Impact Development (LID).