2014 would provide some great learning opportunities within the San Dieguito River Valley. Our executive director at the time Dick Bobertz along with Poway City Councilman Jim Cunningham and San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy board member Bill Simmons were finishing the final segment of their more than 72-mile trek of the Coast to Crest Trail that started in May of 2013. Beginning at the crest of the park on Volcan Mountain, they broke the hike up into 10-mile segments. The mission was to gain a greater understanding of the park in its entirety and to bring awareness of this incredible asset we have in San Diego. Inspired by this journey I too would make the same 72-mile trip only this time by mountain bike in February of the following year.
By mid-year the River Park’s Birdwing Open Air Classroom was completed and opened to the public. This 80-seat amphitheater featuring rows of concrete benches that was shaded by perforated stainless steel, giving it the look of a “bird’s wing” from a distance would be a great addition to the parks continued goal of educating visitors of the importance of our natural environment. Overlooking the scenic views of the carefully restored wetlands of the San Dieguito Lagoon it does just that. This trailside classroom has hosted many outdoor lessons from the wetland’s importance for migratory bird habitat, aquatic species habitat, the effects of climate change, and much more. It is also a great spot to just enjoy the lagoon and do a little bird watching.
The first-ever BioBlitz was held on the north shore of Lake Hodges in 2014. A host of professional and citizen scientists embarked on a 24-hour blitz of the lake in order to gain info of the biodiversity that exists within that 350-acre area. More than 200 people participated in the event. Some of the endangered bird species like the California Gnatcatcher and Coastal Cactus Wren were spotted as well as over 262 plants, 300 species of insect, 15 reptiles, and five species of bats which came as a surprise to most of the participants. Overall it gave participants and the public at large greater insight on the reasons behind the continued need for conservation and biodiversity.
This year also marked the year that the seed was planted for the San Dieguito River Park Ranger Station at the lagoon. The proposed station would be 1,400-square-foot with office space, meeting room, employee and public restrooms, and a fenced yard. It would be located at the San Dieguito Lagoon Staging Area close to the trail and the Birdwing classroom.
Senior Park Ranger/ Trails Manager, San Dieguito River Park JPA