2011 OUTSTANDING PARTNER San Diego River Park Foundation

2011 OUTSTANDING PARTNER San Diego River Park Foundation
The San Diego River Park Foundation was founded in 2001 as a 501c3 public benefit community-based nonprofit dedicated to fostering stewardship and appreciation of the region’s namesake waterway.  In order to protect and enhance the San Diego River as a place for recreation, habitat, and nature discovery, the River Park Foundation is dedicated to engaging people to be stewards of the River and working towards the vision of a 52 mile, river-long system of parks, open spaces, and community places.

To achieve that vision, the River Park Foundation has developed programs to coordinate volunteers to work on clean-ups, invasive plant removal, water quality monitoring, and river surveys under the umbrella of the multi-faceted Healthy River, Healthy Communities (HRHC) program to help create and enhance the River Park system.  

The Healthy River Healthy Communities Program is comprised of four major component programs:
  1. Twice a year during River Blitz, teams of trained volunteers conduct surveys with GPS units and cameras to map location, types, and amounts of trash, invasive species, and park health issues. The data is then compiled and reported to interested agencies and made available to the public through the River Park Foundation’s trash reporting website.

  2. The Clean and Green Team coordinates clean-ups two weekends every month based on needs identified through River Blitz trash data.  At each event, volunteers remove trash and debris from the river habitat and surrounding open space and park lands.

  3. Every month, RiverWatch volunteer team leaders organize groups for water quality testing and nutrient monitoring, to track the effects of clean-up efforts and identify water quality issues. 

  4. Weekday volunteers, known as River Rescuers, support the Clean and Green Team by scouting sites prior to and following large clean-ups to make sure we get all the trash out, as well as target smaller trash sites that are either too small or remote for large scale clean-ups.

Through meaningful experiences, people will become stewards of our environment. The process of information sharing, docent-led field visits, and meaningful service projects helps participants get a better understanding of the importance and value of their work, and creates the individual connection to the river that creates the next generation of environmental and community stewards.  As the public becomes more invested in the future of the San Diego River and more knowledgeable about the impacts of human behaviors, there will be a change in the types and amount of trash ending up in the river.

Through the Healthy River, Healthy Communities Program, over 30 miles of river have been restored and are continually surveyed and monitored.  River Park Foundation volunteers have removed over 1.2 million pounds of trash and debris from the San Diego River.  In the last year, the HRHC Program coordinated over 2,500 volunteers to remove more than 85,000 pounds of trash.