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Elkhorn Slough is a seven-mile arm of the Monterey Bay located half way between the cities of Santa Cruz and Monterey. This arm has a bend in it as it extends inland, and at the "elbow" lies the reserve. The reserve is owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and it operates in partnership with the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the local, non-profit Elkhorn Slough Foundation. It is one of 22 national estuarine research reserves around the country that serve as representative estuaries for research, education and habitat stewardship.