Dear ,

Three new miles of trail are open in the River Park! Last month, we celebrated the opening of the Pamo Valley section of the Coast to Crest Trail!
With that complete, what's next? Well, there's still 23 miles to complete the Coast to Crest Trail. Our next priorities are to fill in the gaps at Lusardi Creek and Osuna Valley. Check current Coast to Crest Trail status, including information on the incomplete sections, here. And stay tuned for more to come!  

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!
Photo by Aaron Chang
News & Updates
Pamo Valley Section of Coast to Crest Trail Grand Opening
The San Dieguito River Park JPA and Conservancy, along with trail supporters and partners, celebrated the opening of 3.3 more miles of Coast to Crest Trail on a picturesque day in Pamo Valley last month. Near Ramona, the Pamo Valley trail represents an accomplishment toward filling in the remaining gaps of the planned 71-mile CTC Trail.

Over 100 trail enthusiasts and public officials gathered at the new trailhead on January 26th, welcomed by JPA Executive Director Kevin McKernan and Board member and Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz. Trail supporter and financial donor Joan Griffin cut the official ribbon to open the trail, along with Conservancy President Brad Bartlett and REI representatives. Kevin McKernan said, "There is no better way to celebrate the San Dieguito River Park's 30th anniversary this year than opening three more miles of Coast to Crest Trail."

The Pamo Valley segment brings the total miles of completed CTC Trail to 48 miles. After the ceremony, participants enjoyed a guided hike with River Park staff. The Pamo Trail was designed and built primarily by JPA Park Rangers and volunteers.

This trail would not be possible without over $153,000 contributed by the Conservancy, including a $43,000 grant to SDRVC from REI, and $114,000 from 2019 Heart of the Conservancy Award winner, Joan Griffin, and her late husband, Monty. Additional funding for this project included a $285,000 grant to the River Park JPA from the California Natural Resources Agency.

The River Park JPA rangers and volunteers worked long and hard on constructing this beautiful trail, doing an amazing job and substantially reducing the labor cost of this project.

For more information about San Dieguito River Park trails and to download a trail map, go to:

Citizen Science in 2019
The Conservancy is pleased to announce exciting new Citizen Science programs this year! Our focal site for 2019 will be the Bing Crosby Estates Habitat Management Area, located off of Del Dios Highway in the Santa Fe Valley/Del Dios Gorge. The Crosby HMA is a 170-acre open space preserve that contains high quality riparian, grassland, marsh, vernal pool, coastal sage scrub, and chaparral habitats. It is managed by Rincon Consultants, a long-time Conservancy partner.

This year's Citizen Science programs will include spring botanical surveys, quarterly bird surveys, spring butterfly surveys, wildlife camera trapping, and intermittent herpetological surveys. We are also partnering with Bob Forthun to conduct benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) surveys, which study aquatic insects to evaluate water quality.

Our first Citizen Science survey of 2019 will be a botanical survey on March 8th. Future surveys and events will be announced on Facebook and in upcoming Riverscapes. For more information about the Citizen Science program, contact Conservation Manager Jonathan Appelbaum at

Sycamore Creek Preserve Inholding Parcel Receives Another Private Donation
In 2017, the River Park JPA received a generous donation that sparked the acquisition of a key 6.4-acre inholding in the Sycamore Creek Preserve behind the River Park headquarters in Poway.   

The parcel was a former home site that burned in the 2007 Witch Creek fires and could have been re-developed right in the middle of the preserve. The JPA Board of Directors approved the acquisition with financing and the caveat that JPA staff seek more donations and grants to complete the purchase. Last year, the JPA received another generous donation from Citizens Advisory Committee Chairman, Jeff Barnouw.

And now, with the latest very generous gift from Chris Khoury and Linda Corey, the remaining loan is down to $144,000, thereby helping the JPA pay off the loan earlier and ensure this property is protected forever. Chris and Linda are long-time River Park supporters, with Chris serving on the Conservancy board for many years and both Chris and Linda founding the Exploring our Sense of Place program in the River Park.

If you'd like to learn more about this property and how to help the JPA protect it as part of its 150 acre Sycamore Creek Preserve, contact Kevin McKernan at 858.674.2270. Thank you Chris and Linda!

Fairbanks Fuel Reduction Project Featured in Flora Magazine
The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy has been leading the Fairbanks Ranch Fuel Reduction Project since 2015. The location includes the area between Fairbanks Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe west of the Black Mountain Open Space and it is progressing well. The Conservancy is managing this project and partnering with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California Native Plant Society-San Diego Chapter (CNPS), Fairbanks Ranch Association, Rancho Santa Fe Association and private landowners.

Last month, the Fairbanks Ranch Reduction Project was featured in California Native Plant Society's Flora magazine - read it here!

Applications Open for River Park Scholarships!

Click here to apply!
Bird of the Month: Common Yellowthroat
by Ranger David Hekel

These are small songbirds that have olive backs, wings and tails, yellow throats and chests, and white bellies. Adult males have black face masks which stretch from the sides of the neck across the eyes and forehead, which are bordered above with white or gray. First-year males have a faint black mask which darkens completely by spring.

They live in thick, tangled vegetation in a wide range of habitats and forage on or near the ground, eating insects and spiders from leaves, bark, branches, flowers, or fruit in low vegetation. Though they mostly get their food while perched, they may sally out from a perch to catch prey. Like many birds, Common Yellowthroats also eat grit, which possibly helps them digest food or adds minerals to their diet.

They are partial to marshes and other wet areas with dense low vegetation and less common in dry areas. They can usually be found within the San Dieguito River Park at Lake Hodges and the lagoon areas. They are usually very hard to spot because they spend most of their time in the dense brush but if you look very hard and listen for their soft jip, jip call you may be able to spot these little Highwayman of the marshes.

Congrats Coast to Crest Trail Challengers!
Chuck Banker, Charlie Kahle, Elmar Zanforlin, Brenda Marshall, Bobbie Wright, Craig Robertson, and Werner Berger finished the entire Challenge in one day!
16 people (plus 1 trail pup) completed the NEW Coast to Crest Trail Challenge in January!

Congratulations to:

Lucas & Shannon Worthen (and their dog, Yona)
Felicia Wimmer
Carlos Ivan Leyva
Aldo Arturo Galaviz Lopez
Phil Hwang
Stephen Mazurek
Barbara Wright
Brenda Marshall
Charlie Kahle
Werner Berger
Chuck Banker
Elmar Zanforlin
Bobbie Wright
Craig Robertson
Caleb Hummel

Learn more about the Coast to Crest Trail Challenge here.
Coming Up
2/9 - Valentine's on Volcan

Gather your loved ones and take a moderate hike at Volcan Mountain with the SDRVC and the Volcan Mountain Foundation. You will be rewarded with scenic views, a delicious picnic, refreshments and other delectable treats.

We will hike up from Volcan Mountain Foundation's Nature Center and pass Ironside Springs. It is about 4 miles round-trip and a ~1,000' elevation gain.

We love our furry friends, but no dogs are allowed on this hike. Make your reservations early, we are limiting the number of people at this event to 26.

WhenSaturday, February 9th, 8:30 - 11:30 am
WhereVolcan Mountain Foundation Nature Center (22850 Volcan Rd., Julian)

2/9 & 2/10 - Valentine Teas at Sikes Adobe

WhenSaturday, February 9th and Sunday, March 10th, 1:00 pm and 3:00 both days
WhereSikes Adobe Historic Farmstead

3/2 - Conservancy Volunteer Training

Do you want to make a difference in your community? Come learn about ways to inspire and educate the youth about the San Dieguito Watershed.

We will be covering topics ranging from water quality testing, animal tracking, student/trail safety, and more! Meet Education Manager, Ana Lutz, who coordinates and runs the collaborative educational events with the Conservancy.

WhenSaturday, March 2nd, 9:30 - 10:30 am
WhereDel Mar Branch Library

3/24 - Wax & Wine

The Conservancy presents "Wax & Wine 2019" at the Knorr Candle Shoppe in Del Mar.  Knorr is the largest manufacturer of 100% beeswax products -- right here in our backyard!

Guests will savor gourmet bites from Urban Kitchen Catering (featuring cuisine from award-winning Kitchen Urban Group restaurants, including Cucina Enoteca, Cucina Urbana and Cucina Sorella).  

Wines and craft beers have been chosen by the experts to pair with these dishes for guests to enjoy. 

Topaz will serenade you with live violin and classic guitar as you stroll among the lush gardens of Knorr. Artisan David will show guests how to make their own beeswax candle to take home. 

Knorr is offering guests 15% OFF any Knorr Beeswax purchase at the Knorr Candle Shoppe!

WhenSunday, March 24 from 2:00 - 5:00 pm
WhereKnorr Candle Shoppe (14906 Via De La Valle, Del Mar)

February Events

Sundays, 2/3, 2/10, 2/17, 2/24:
North San Diego Certified Farmers Market & Farmhouse Tours
Sunday, 2/3:
San Dieguito Monthly Bird Count

Sunday Morning Hike

Sunday, 2/9:

Valentine's on Volcan

Valentine Teas (also 2/10)
Saturday, 2/16:
Coffee with a Ranger

Volunteer Habitat Restoration

San Dieguito Lagoon Bird Walk

Gonzales Canyon Volunteer Event

San Diego's First Peoples Tour Series
Sunday, 2/17:
Volunteer Trail Maintenance

Yoga at the Lagoon

Wednesday, 2/20:
Canyoneers Hike at Clevenger Canyon South Trail
Saturday, 2/23:
Crest Canyon Volunteer Event

Rain or Shine Volcan Mountain Summit Hike
Sunday, 2/24:
Mountain Biking San Diego Beginner Ride

What Happened in January
Brigantine Basin Planting

The Conservancy started the year with another successful habitat restoration/stewardship event at the Brigantine Basin. Thanks for the 13 hearty volunteers who braved the rainy weather to help us plant over 200 new native plantings in the Basin! This work is part of our larger Brigantine Basin Sea Level Rise Adaptation Project that began in September 2018.

C2C Challenge Guided Hike - Raptor Ridge

We're one hike closer to completing the Coast to Crest Trail Challenge! This crew enjoyed a wonderful hike up Raptor Ridge despite the threat of rain last month.

Grey Matter with A Ship in the Woods

The Conservancy and A Ship in the Woods partnered again to bring participants a unique evening centered around the word "mindfulness." To ring in the New Year, attendees wrote down their commitments to the environment and took home native flower seed bombs in the hopes of spreading habitat for sensitive pollinators.

Microclimates on a Macro Scale - Student Projects

Students and 8th grade Math/Science teacher Matt Leader from High Tech Middle School, North County came to the Conservancy's January board meeting to present findings from an ongoing program, Microclimates on a Macro Scale. The program, funded by SDG&E and created in part with Climate Science Alliance, aims to educate students and the surrounding San Diego community about climate change and its effects.

Students spoke about their specific program roles, in which they created social media content to both educate and inspire change.

Interested in participating in this program? Contact Education Manager, Ana Lutz,

Science of Flight

A great crowd enjoyed the Science of Flight presentation last month! In collaboration with the Del Mar Branch Library and Living Coast Discovery, Mariah the Kestrel, a native raptor, assisted in educating participants of all ages on the importance of San Diego's prolific birds.
Gonzales Canyon Tree Planting

The Conservancy led another successful habitat stewardship event last month in Gonzales Canyon, with 19 volunteers planting 110 native trees!