There's something almost all of us are doing this time of year -- holiday shopping.

Whether you're trying to fill the space under the tree or participating in your office's Secret Santa gift exchange, you're probably buying at least a few things this month. Did you know that if you shop online at several major retailers, you can support the Conservancy?

Simply register -- for free -- at Amazon Smile,, and eScrip, selecting the Conservancy as your beneficiary. Then, use those portals to shop online and the Conservancy will receive a portion of your purchase! Shop on Amazon like usual -- just make sure you're on On iGive or eScrip, use their links to access your favorite online stores and retailers. We so appreciate your support! 

photo by Jim Coffee

We'd also like to remind you that Conservancy memberships, at only $35 for the year, make great gifts for the nature-lovers in your life -- especially when paired with something from the Conservancy or River Park shops!

Thank you for your continued support of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and the San Dieguito River Park! Don't forget to renew your Conservancy membership and invite your friends, too!




Sundays, December
4, 11, 18
(CLOSED 12/25 for Christmas)
10:30 am - 3:30 pm
North San Diego Certified Farmers Market - Rain or Shine!
Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead:

Friday, December 2
6:00 pm
VMF Artist's Reception & Wine Pairing Dinner
Jeremy's on the Hill:
Hosted by Volcan Mountain Foundation
Cost: $95/person; limit 55 guests

Saturday, December 3
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
A Conversation with Artist Cynthia Fletcher
Hosted by Volcan Mountain Foundation

Sunday, December 4
7:30 am - 12:00 pm
San Dieguito Monthly Bird Count
Hosted by San Dieguito Bird Count Leader Jayne Lesley

Sunday, December 4
11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Battle Day
San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park:
Hosted by San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park

Saturday, December 10
9:00 am - 10:30 am
Ranger-Led Walk at the San Dieguito Lagoon
2 miles, easy
Hosted by SDRP Ranger 
JJ Paetow

Sunday, December 11
8:00 am - 11:00 am
Volunteer Trail Maintenance
Hosted by SDRP Ranger 
Dave Hekel

Sunday, December 11
9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Back Country Autumn Hike
7 miles, strenuous
Hosted by San Diego County Park Rangers

Saturday, December 17
8:00 am - 11:00 am
Volunteer Habitat Restoration
Hosted by SDRP Ranger 
Jake Gibbs

Saturday, December 17
8:30 am
Exec Trek "Holiday Hike"
4.4 miles, strenuous
Hosted by SDRVC Executive Director Trish Boaz
Free for members; 
$10 suggested donation for non-members

Saturday, December 19
8:30 am - 10:30 am
San Dieguito Lagoon Bird Walk
Hosted by Buena Vista Audubon Society Member John Haddock

Sunday, December 18
10:00 am - 11:00 am
Yoga at the Birdwing
Co-hosted by SDRVC and Yoga Instructor Susan McCrea
Free for members; $10 donation for non-members

All events are free unless otherwise noted.


For hikes, all mileages are approximate.


Please visit our website for more details and full events calendar.  


Join the Conservancy's Meetup group to learn more about upcoming hikes and events in the River Park. 










Your membership helps us to fulfill our mission to protect  the San Dieguito Watershed for generations to come.








For more information, please visit these websites:

Latest News & Updates
Make Your Year-End Gift to the Conservancy
As we reach the end of 2016--and our 30th  anniversary year--all of us at the Conservancy are once again grateful for you, our members and supporters. Thanks to your generous donations and contributions, we get to spend our days making our vision for the San Dieguito River Park a reality.
As you plan your year-end giving, please think of the Conservancy. Every dollar donated is leveraged 15 times through public, private, and corporate grants, so know that your donation will be put towards good use:
  • Funding our educational programs like Watershed Explorers and Citizen Science Monitoring
  • Planning and building new trails and completing the Coast to Crest Trail
  • Restoring habitat critical to River Park wildlife
  • Removing invasive species and reinstating native plants
  • Acquiring land within the watershed to preserve and protect it

Visit to renew your Conservancy membership, make a year-end donation, or learn about the other ways you can give, which include:
  • donating your car
  • donating stock
  • donate via a community foundation
  • matching gifts from employers
  • in-kind donations
  • donating land or easements
  • planned estate giving
THANK YOU  for your generous support!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead

New Friends of Sikes Adobe President
Jim Lyon, the new president for Friends of Sikes Adobe, is originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He moved to Escondido in the early 1970s when his father was transferred for business. 

Jim received a B.S. in Environmental Sciences from Humboldt State University and started his career with the California Department of Fish and Game. He later went on to work for the City of Poway, where he spent 34 years before retiring in 2012. While with the City, Jim's work included long-range planning and environmental coordination. He was a contributing author of the Poway General Plan, the Poway Municipal Code, and the Poway Habitat Conservation Plan. He also worked on specific plans that guided the development of Poway's main commercial corridor and the historic Old Poway area. As part of his duties, Jim represented the City on the San Dieguito Watershed Council, San Dieguito Open Space River Park Committee, and numerous San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) committees. 

Jim currently serves on the City of Poway's Oversight Board to the Redevelopment Agency, Parks and Recreation Committee, and Poway Road Corridor Committee. As part of his other activities, Jim serves on several committees at Palomar Health relating to patient care and manages his land use consulting business.

Trailside Mystery Solved
by David Hekel, Senior Park Ranger

I get asked a lot of questions while I am out on trail patrols. Usually things like "What type of plant is this?" or "Are there rattlesnakes in the park?" or "How long is this trail?" 

Since about June of this year, I've been getting asked, "What are they doing at Del Dios Community Park?" If you have hiked, biked, ridden a horse, or even driven a car past this certain section of the San Dieguito River Park Coast to Crest Trail, you're probably wondering the same thing. 

Well mystery solved! Since June, a couple local artists have been transforming a 17-foot diameter by 25-foot tall old eucalyptus tree into something rather unique to the history of the area. I've heard many people guess: 

It's a totem pole? Kind of.

It's a dragon? Again, kind of. 

When complete, the sculpture will take the form of the legendary Lake Hodges monster Hodgee. 

Who or what is Hodgee you ask? Hodgee has become a rural myth around the Lake Hodges area much like the Loch Ness monster is in Scotland. There have been many sightings over the decades; just ask any resident around Lake Hodges, and you are bound to find someone who has spotted the creature. 

So next time you visit the trails make sure you take a couple minutes to scan the surface of the Lake. Who knows, maybe you will be lucky enough to spot this elusive creature. If not, you at least know where to find a sculpture of one.

Needed: Trailer for Sikes Adobe
The San Dieguito River Park is in need of a trailer or 5th wheel to serve as a residence for a resident volunteer at Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead. If you or someone you know has one to donate, please contact Leana Bulay at Donations to the River Park are tax-deductible.
Now Recruiting Hike Leaders/Assistants
The Conservancy is currently seeking volunteer Hike Assistants and Leaders to help with our public hikes in the River Park.

Hike Assistant  duties include: 
  • assist with staff-led hikes
  • ensure all members of hike are accounted for
  • point out areas of interest to hikers
  • promote Conservancy membership on all hikes. 

No experience is necessary, just a willingness to learn and share.



Hike Leader duties include: 

  • all Hike Assistant duties listed above
  • help plan hike routes
  • conduct pre-hikes
  • lead interpretive hikes with assistance from one or more volunteers. 

Hike leaders will be required to complete a 10-week Trail Guide Training program at Mission Trails Regional Park and one field-day training session with an experienced Hike Leader in the River Park.



Volunteers must be able to hike trails rated easy to strenuous, and be knowledgeable or willing to learn about the environment, plants and animals. We ask that volunteers commit to helping with at least 2-4 hikes per year. For more information, please contact Conservation Manager Jess Norton at .

photos by James Coffee
New Pollinator Garden at Sikes Adobe
In partnership with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, The Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County, Butterfly Farms, Sky Mountain Permaculture Institute, and the California Native Plant Society, a pollinator garden was installed along the Coast to Crest Trail near the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead.

The purpose of this garden is to help conserve pollinators like the Monarch butterfly. In Southern California, restoration mostly focuses on repairing rare ecosystems and conserving endemic species on the brink of extinction. The Monarch, however, is a wide-ranging species and currently relies on forests of non-native eucalyptus for over-wintering sites during its migration.

There is work that needs to be done to conserve the Monarch butterfly in Southern California, and there is a demand for conservation efforts from the public. By planting pollinator gardens at homes or schools that incorporate native species of milkweed, homeowners, students, and teachers are able to provide habitat for Monarch butterflies--and learn more about them. Pollinator gardens in public spaces act as demonstration gardens. In addition to learning about the Monarch, people can learn about native plants and other pollinators. They can take this knowledge and put it into practice at home. 

Lessons at demonstration pollinator gardens, like the one at Sikes Adobe, include the use of less harmful pest control, water-saving techniques, and the value of a diverse ecosystem to pollinators. An interpretive panel will be installed soon, explaining the importance of these types of gardens.

Volunteer Opportunity at Lake Hodges
This fall and winter, the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (ICR) will be planting 1,000 prickly pear cactus south of Lake Hodges at Bernardo Bay in partnership with the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, River Park JPA, and the Conservancy. The project will expand potential habitat for the declining Coastal Cactus Wren. Once planting is complete, ICR will begin propagating plants for future restoration efforts by collecting cactus pads from Lake Hodges and the Safari Park's Biodiversity Reserve.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! If you are interested in helping restore critical habitat for Cactus Wren, we're looking for volunteers! Volunteer activities are scheduled for Wednesdays and Saturdays starting this November through March 2017. It's a great opportunity to learn about native plants and help build healthy habitat for our local wildlife. 

For more information, please contact ICR Research Associate Ryan Fitch at

Coming Up in December and 2017
Holiday Hike Exec Trek
December 17th
Join Executive Director Trish Boaz for a hike at Clevenger Canyon South. This area is known for its peaks and steeply sloped canyons. The valley itself actually developed over a local fault, and an immense amount of granite lies under most of the region. Reddish, coarse, sandy loam covers the hillsides as a result of weathered remains from exposed batholith. 

These hillsides support a unique plant community known as southern mixed chaparral, which is dominated by chamise, ceanothus and scrub oak. Clevenger Canyon also contains many specimens of rare Engelmann Oak which provides food and shelter for an abundance of wildlife. Although poison oak berries are noxious to humans, many species find them to be a valuable food source. 

When : Saturday, December 17th at 8:30 am
Where: Directions provided upon registration
Free for members; suggested $10 donation for non-members

Sikes Saturday Series
The San Dieguito River Park is proud to announce the Sikes Saturday Series! The series will host over 30 presentations and hikes at Sikes Adobe from January through April. Every Saturday, a morning and afternoon event will take place. 

The program topics include local history, wildlife, native plants, wilderness survival, mountain biking, gardening, geology, astronomy, archaeology, photography, bread making, art, poetry, and music. Plus, returning for the 5th year--the Valentine Teas! 

For a schedule of the events and to register, go to Brochures will also be available at kiosks or by contacting Brenda at Space is limited for each event. Early registration is encouraged. 

Stress Less, Achieve More 
with Sheila Henry
January 11th
The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy is pleased to host Sheila Henry, MFT at the Birdwing Open Air Classroom  on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017 at 1:30 pm! The San Dieguito Lagoon is a great location and January is a perfect time to learn how to "Stress Less...Achieve More!" 

It is commonly known that stress can influence us physically, mentally and emotionally. It can have a significant impact on our personal health, weight, relationships, business success, and overall happiness. While stress is inevitable, its negative effects are not!

In this informative, interactive, and entertaining talk, Sheila Henry will share cutting-edge science and solutions that will reveal new understandings about what keeps people stressed and  how to change that. In this presentation, participants will experience the laser-like swiftness of "tapping" to  reduce stress.

When: Wednesday, January 11th at 1:30 pm  
Where: Birdwing Open Air Classroom  (map)

Volunteer Trail Project with REI
January 14th
Join REI, the San Dieguito River Park, the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy on January 14th from nine to noon to repair an approximately ½-mile portion of the multi-use, unpaved Bernardo Summit Trail within the San Dieguito River Park.  

Increasing access to outdoor recreation is a major goal of REI, the San Dieguito River Park, The San Diego Mountain Biking  Association, and the Conservancy. The Bernardo Mountain Summit Trail provides a panoramic view of Lake Hodges to the west and San Pasqual Valley and local mountains to the east. The nearby Coast to Crest Trail, which is accessible from the Bernardo Summit Trail, is a 70-mile trail that traverses unique landscapes from the coast in Del Mar to Volcan Mountain in Julian.  
We want to thank REI for the $10,000 grant to make this project a reality and bringing our communities together to ensure our outdoor experiences are safe and enjoyable! 
When: Saturday, January 14th at 9:00 am 
Where: directions available upon registration

Wax & Wine
March 26th
Our 2nd annual Wax & Wine at the Knorr Candle Factory is on March 26th!

Savor gourmet fair, sip delicious wine selected by chefs, enjoy live music, learn how to make your own beeswax candle and take it home, and stroll the lovely gardens at the Knorr Candle Factory!

More details coming soon, but save the date and register today -- we expect this event will sell out!

When: Sunday, March 26th from 1:00 to 4:00 pm 
Where: Knorr Candle Factory, Del Mar

What Happened in November
Sikes Harvest Festival
For the past 3 years, Sikes Adobe has hosted a Halloween festival called Sikes Spooktacular. This year, the River Park decided to change the event to the Harvest Festival, celebrating all things fall.

Participants went on tours of the farmhouse, made scarecrows, created art projects, pumpkin bowled, got their faces painted and visited the county store. The event was fun for all!

The River Park thanks all the volunteers that helped make this event a success. 

NCPC Volunteer Luncheon
The Conservancy was thrilled to honor Bill Augustus at this year's North County Philanthropy Council Volunteer Luncheon!

Bill, a Park Attendant with County of San Diego Parks and Recreation, is a popular hike leader who guides treks throughout the River Park from Volcan Mountain in Julian to the San Dieguito Lagoon. He shares his knowledge about the history, plants, wildlife, and geology of the area with infectious enthusiasm. We are fortunate to have Bill on our team!

Furry Friends Hike
The last Furry Friends Hike of the year was a great success! We had a good turnout of both two-legged and four-legged hikers on the Piedras Pintadas Trail and collected donations for the Helen Woodward Animal Center.

More Furry Friends Hikes are coming in 2017 -- dates and locations will be announced in upcoming Riverscapes and on the Conservancy's Facebook page.

#OptOutside in Gonzales Canyon
We had a great group #OptOutside with the Conservancy, San Diego Canyonlands, and City of San Diego Open Space Park Rangers on Black Friday!

We explored Gonzales Canyon and learned about native plants and the importance of urban canyons to our ecosystems -- while getting a healthy dose of Vitamin N!