San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy

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Conservancy Conservation Projects

We are committed to conserving and restoring habitat throughout the San Dieguito River Park. Restoration projects are made possible through grants and the work of dedicated volunteers. Our goals with every restoration project are to:

  • Clear and clean debris and signs of dumping and human encroachment
  • Remove non-native and invasive species
  • Plant, seed, and restore native plants to create a viable, self-sustaining habitat for native species to flourish
  • Facilitate safe human interaction with restored habitats so they can be maintained, protected, and enjoyed for generations to come.

San Dieguito Lagoon North Bank Restoration

Project Summary

The north side of the river channel in the San Dieguito Lagoon had suffered severe negative impacts from decades of dumping and human encroachment. In 2006, with a $19,350 grant from the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project, the Conservancy partnered with the 22nd District Agricultural Association (DAA) to restore native habitat on 1.15 acres of land along this channel. The DAA operates the Del Mar Fairgrounds and owns the land where this restoration project was located.

Thanks to several hundred volunteers who came out to help, we removed debris, prepared the site, planted and seeded native plants, and weeded and watered as those natives became established.


The project was located on the north bank of the San Dieguito Lagoon river channel, west of I-5 and east of Jimmy Durante Boulevard.

Resource Value

The project restored a portion of the San Dieguito Lagoon and river channel to its native wetlands habitat and provided viable fish and wildlife habitat to compensate for losses at the San Onofre Nuclear Plant.

A number of species that depend on our vanishing coastal wetlands are already benefitting from the newly restored wetlands. Ocean fish are using the deeper water as nurseries, and salt marsh vegetation is providing critical nesting habitat for endangered birds like the Belding’s Savannah Sparrow. The Lagoon is also an important rest stop for over 100 birds that migrate along the Pacific Flyway.

The North Bank Restoration also enhanced a segment of the Coast to Crest Trail extending from the Lagoon Boardwalk to the freeway. This segment was constructed with assistance from the 22nd DAA and Del Mar Rotary.

Management & Maintenance

Maintaining this restoration is an ongoing project! To make this a long-term success, we need volunteers “adopt” sections of the project area and help with spot weeding and watering the new natives. This work can be done on a flexible schedule. If you’re interested, please call (858) 755-6945 or email volunteer@sdrvc.org.

San Dieguito Lagoon North Bank Restoration Project



Funded by

Grant from Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project (totaling $19,350)


A section of the San Dieguito Lagoon has been restored to native coastal wetlands habitat, supporting a number of species including ocean fish, endangered bird species, and migratory birds stopping for foraging and resting.

Del Dios Gorge Riparian Restoration

Project Summary

The Conservancy and San Dieguito River Park partnered to remove about 21 acres of dense eucalyptus trees in Del Dios Gorge. Phase I of the project began in September 2011 with the removal of these trees, as well as other non-native species. Native species were then able to re-establish from existing ground cover and new plantings.

The tree removal was completed by licensed contractors. Over two million pounds of eucalyptus trees were removed throughout the three phases of the project.

The project was primarily funded by a grant from California Natural Resources Agency River Parkways Program for $1,049,368. $873,000 was used for the riparian restoration and $176,368 for other trail enhancements in the area, including the Rattlesnake Viewing Platform at Lake Hodges Dam.


The restoration project was located along a 1.1-mile corridor in Del Dios Gorge below the Lake Hodges Dam.

Resource Value

While eucalyptus trees have been in San Diego for over 150 years, they are not native species and are extremely damaging to native vegetation and wildlife. Eucalyptus trees are very effective at out-competing native species, eliminating habitats, and threatening biodiversity. They also presented fire and safety hazards in Del Dios Gorge.

At least four special-status bird species (including the endangered Bell’s vireo and southwest willow flycatcher) will benefit from the restored habitat. The re-established riparian forest decreases the fire risk and enhances scenery along the Coast to Crest Trail.

Del Dios Gorge Riparian Restoration



Funded by

Grant from California Natural Resources Agency River Parkways Program (totaling $1,049,368), as well as funding from Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


21 acres of eucalyptus and other non-native plants along a 1.1-mile corridor were removed and replaced with native plants, restoring habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.

Habitat Restoration Projects

The Conservancy works with the San Dieguito River Park and other groups and agencies to combat non-native and invasive species throughout the River Park. Invasive species out-compete native plants, degrade water quality, increase the risk of flooding, alter flow regimes, and provide little or no value to native wildlife.

In 2006, the Conservancy formed a stakeholder group to address the problems of invasive plants in the watershed and formulate a long-term strategy for weed management. The 10-member group operates as a working group of the San Dieguito Watershed Council and brings together technical and programmatic expertise to identify effective treatment methods and funding sources.

Since 2006, the Conservancy has received more than $900,000 in outside funding for invasive control and habitat restoration projects throughout the River Park.

Current habitat restoration projects include:

San Pasqual Valley

The Conservancy has received funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to treat giant reed, tamarisk, and other non-native plants in watershed in San Pasqual Valley, east of Escondido. The funds will also allow for re-vegetation with native riparian trees and shrubs to restore habitat for birds and pollinators.

Perennial Pepperweed Control

Perennial pepperweed is a persistent, highly-invasive non-native plant. Because it so severely degrades native vegetation, it is one of the highest-priority invasive species in the watershed. We have received funding from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 2007 and a $265,350 grant from SANDAG’s TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program in 2009. These funds will be used in a long-term program to treat pepperweed in San Pasqual Valley (upstream of Lake Hodges) and at the San Dieguito Lagoon, where it threatens newly-restored coastal wetland habitat.

How You Can Help

We host monthly volunteer work parties (currently on the third Saturday of each month, location varies) to remove invasive plants and restore native plants. These events are led by River Park rangers. Check our Events page or sign up for our newsletter to learn about and RSVP for the next volunteer event!

You can also help by only planting native plants in your garden. Invasive plants can easily spread out of yards (thanks to birds and insects carrying their seeds) and often need soil amendments, fertilizers, chemical pest control, and extra watering. Native plants are low-maintenance and naturally pest-resistant. Learn more about native plants here.

When you’re hiking in the River Park, stay on the trailsto allow newly-planted native vegetarian to establish and grow.

Want to plan a work party for your group? We host and manage volunteer work parties for Scout troops, school groups, youth groups, volunteer organizations, businesses, and more. Contact us at sdrvc@sdrvc.org or (858) 755-6956 or visit our Volunteer page to learn more.