Lots of exciting things happened with the River Park in 2017. The whole state of California breathed a sigh of relief, as it was the first year of above average rainfall after several years of drought. This meant that for the first time in several years, Lake Hodges filled up, and there was water under the David Kreitzer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge. This much needed rain also meant the hills were covered with annual wildflowers in the springtime! California poppies, Canterbury bells, sun cups, tidy tips, blue dicks, lupines, shooting stars, red maids, fiddleneck, and blue-eyed grass were just a few of the wildflower species we spotted around the park.
But along with all that rain, invasive species like black mustard came in strong too. Rangers and volunteers spent countless hours in our habitat restoration sites trying to remove invasive species to make room for the native plants. One way to suppress these weeds is through laying down mulch. Agriservice, Inc in Oceanside (and specifically Mary Matava, President and Agronomist at Agriservice), generously donated 120 cubic yards of mulch to the River Park that spring to be used at the El Camino mitigation site, a coastal sage scrub restoration site at the San Dieguito Lagoon.
Exciting things happened concerning SDRP’s trails too. The Pamo Valley segment of the Coast to Crest Trail, a long awaited trail segment near Ramona, broke ground in late summer. Its completion would link two existing segments of the Coast to Crest Trail, the Upper and Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trails (both managed by the US Forest Service).
And on the coastal end of the park, a long awaited wetland restoration project managed by the Del Mar Fairgrounds was finally completed. During restoration of the approximately 10 acres of coastal salt marsh habitat, a small section of the Coast to Crest Trail near Jimmy Durante Boulevard had to be re-routed and re-constructed. The trail was re-opened during a ribbon-cutting ceremony once the wetland restoration was completed in July.
Other notable things that happened in 2017 include the launching of a trail patrol app and the securing of a key property for conservation. Regarding the app, Jack Bochsler and Jordan Carlson volunteered their time and expertise to develop the app, which lets trail patrol volunteers log a patrol and add pictures or comments of hazards and other things they see on the trail. This information is sent to River Park staff, providing real-time data on our trail system. This helps rangers to respond to issues or hazards more quickly, keeping the park safer and more enjoyable for all users.
As for securing a key property for conservation, the JPA closed escrow on October 19th, securing a 6.44 acre inholding in its Sycamore Creek Preserve in Poway. Thanks to a very generous donation by long time River Park supporter Freda Reid, the JPA was able to negotiate a down payment on this former home site which sits right in the middle of the 168-acre preserve. The preserve is documented habitat for the endangered California Gnatcatcher, provides an important wildlife corridor, and will now be preserved as habitat indefinitely.
On to 2018!