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What the heck is going on in the TJ River Valley?

MJB-2010-photoshop-picToday’s blog post comes from ILACSD’s Director of Development & Marketing, Morgan, who likes to take any and all of her out-of-town guests down to Borderfield State Park and the Tijuana River Valley for a private tour of one of San Diego’s little known gems!

Someone recently asked me, “what the heck is going on in the Tijuana River Valley that could warrant 4 weeks straight of cleanups and restoration events?” Well, I’m here to share with you the good news, and the bad news, about the Tijuana River Valley region.

The Tijuana River is a 120 mile waterway that originates in Baja California, northeast of Ensenada and flows through Tijuana. On its way to the Pacific Ocean, the River crosses the US-Mexico border near San Ysidro and its mouth is just south of the City of Imperial Beach, just a few miles north of the border.  In Tijuana, the river is more like a concrete canal filled with trash, sewage and homeless migrants. Last year, NPR aired a story focusing on the hundreds of homeless who live in the Tijuana River channel. While there are seemingly insurmountable political, economic and social issues surrounding the border region, a group of San Diego and Tijuana-based nonprofits have come together to tackle the pollution problem. This group, jointly referred to as the Tijuana River Action Network, works on both sides of the border to prevent pollution, teach more sustainable building techniques and hold governments accountable for improvements in sewage infrastructure.

Tijuana River Valley
A great shot of the Tijuana River Valley! Photo Credit: WiLDCOAST

So where does I Love A Clean San Diego fit in? Well, each year for the past few years, our annual Coastal Cleanup Day kicks off the month of cleanup activities called Tijuana River Action Month. In fact, Coastal Cleanup Day involves close to 20 cleanup sites in the shared Tijuana River Watershed. While most of them are in Mexico, they do include Borderfield State Park, Tijuana River Valley – Dairymart Road, and the Tijuana River Valley Community Garden, all on the U.S. side of the border. This year alone, nearly 50,000 pounds of debris was collected from these sites at Coastal Cleanup Day!

Sign up for Tijuana River Action Month today!With Coastal Cleanup Day behind us, we can now look forward to a handful of other great events in the shared watershed that are meant to restore the environment and teach participants of the valuable resource we have in the TJ River Valley.

Saturday, October 4th, 9am – 12noon

Join ILACSD & Wildcoast for a cleanup along Effie May Trail in the TJ River Valley. Help us to dig out tires and other trash that has been covered by sediment. You’ll be shocked and probably dismayed at the sheer amount of trash – especially tires, plastic and Styrofoam that is collected at a single cleanup. To sign up for this cleanup, contact Lexi Ambrogi at or 619-704-2778.

TRAM is great for the whole family!
TRAM is great for the whole family!

Saturday, October 11th, 9am – 12noon

Join Surfrider’s No BS campaign volunteers & Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR) staff for a cleanup at Goat Canyon in the TJ River Valley. Additional projects on October 11th include building benches out of trash with 4 Walls International and erecting a mural created by local students with the help of A Reason to Survive. At 12noon, you can get a sneak peek into the rarely opened Friendship Park to participate in a bi-national planting and ceremonial butterfly release. To sign up for this cleanup, visit the Tijuana River Action Month website.

Saturday, October 11th, 12noon – 2pm

If you had any involvement in this year’s Tijuana River Action Month, join us for the annual Volunteer Appreciation Party! Free food, craft beer, and a raffle for all sorts of great prizes. Plus, an opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the elected officials that represent the border region. We hope to see you there!

Our dedicated volunteers make our work possible!