Dear ,

Summer, here we come!
Lots of exciting news throughout the River Park this month! This is one of favorite times to get out on the trails (okay, we could say that every month...). The events calendar is PACKED with hikes and volunteering opportunities all over the watershed, so we hope to see you out there! 

Thank you for your continued support of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and the San Dieguito River Valley! Don't forget to renew your Conservancy membership and invite your friends, too!
Photo by Judy and Gilbert Kunkel
News & Updates

Remember to VOTE on June 5th!


On the June ballot, Californians will have a chance to address some of our state's most important water, park, and natural resource needs.

The Conservancy supports Prop. 68 and encourages you to vote YES on June 5th!

To learn more about Yes on 68 California, please visit their website.
REI Awards Conservancy $10,000 Grant
We're excited to share that the Conservancy has received a $10,000 grant from REI to support Phase 3 of the River Path Del Mar!

The River Path provides a scenic overlook of the San Dieguito Lagoon and River, complete with interpretive signage of the flora and fauna of the River and Lagoon. Phase 3 will extend the River Path from the Grand Avenue Overlook to the Crest Canyon Trail, along the San Dieguito River, enabling users to eventually reach the Pacific Ocean via the Crest Canyon Trail leading to the Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Phase 3 of the River Path is .5 miles long and will cost between $720,000 to $1.4 million, and will take 18 months to complete.

ESP Program Returning in Fall
The Conservancy's popular Exploring Our Sense of Place program is officially open for registration!

Participants, or "explorers," will experience the San Dieguito River Valley and watershed in all seasons. The path begins at Volcan Mountain in Julian and continues through the valley to North Beach, Del Mar. Many of the excursions include areas that are not open to the public. Hikers are exposed to the area's history, geology, native inhabitants, plants, and wildlife.

Exploring Our Sense of Place includes eight excursions, which are held monthly from September 2018 through May 2019. Each excursion will feature an expert on topics like Mammals & Tracking, Native Americans, Botany, and more.

The program cost is $250 per person or $450 per couple. Visit for more details and to register!

Meet the Conservancy's Summer Intern!
Justin Salazar is a junior at High Tech High School in Point Loma. He is excited to be interning at San Diego River Valley Conservancy as he is very much interested in nature, particularly learning about animals and how they interact with their environment. For his latest project in his Environmental Science class, he took pictures and videos of the various animals that live in the Valley Center and other surrounding areas, researched them, and posted them on his self-created website. He is looking to apply to colleges that offer ecology and/or field biology as a major.

New Bird Brochure
The San Dieguito River Park, in partnership with KS Nature Photography, just released a new brochure, The Birds of Lake Hodges. The brochure is filled with stunning photographs and a wealth of information. San Dieguito River Park staff thanks Ranger Dave Hekel and Krisztina Scheeff for making the brochure possible.

Pick one up at a trailhead kiosk near Lake Hodges or email to have a copy mailed to you.

A Rare Sight at Lake Hodges
photo by Lyric Chavez
by Lyric Chavez, 7th grade student from High Tech Middle North County

While hiking in the San Dieguito River Park around Lake Hodges, my family came across this Coast Patched-nose Snake, Salvadora hexalepis virgultea , eating a whiptail lizard, Aspidoscelis species . Little is known about the natural history of this species.

The Coast Patched-nose Snake population has had a moderate decline in the last 60 years due to heavy grazing, habitat loss, and loss of prey. Their main food source is whiptail lizards, which is also under threat. They are designated a California Species of Special Concern.
River Park Scholarships Awarded
The San Dieguito River Park awards scholarships to two Canyon Crest Academy seniors, Keana Oldham and Grace Wesson. The scholarships of $1,000 each are for students pursuing further education in the fields of biology or resource management. Keana and Grace are the first two award recipients. 

They officially received their awards at the San Dieguito River Park JPA board meeting on May 18th at the County of San Diego Administration Center.

The River Park is hoping to expand its scholarship program next year and would welcome contributions for that purpose. For information, please contact Leana Bulay, manager of Interpretation and Outreach, at or (760) 716-1214.

To read more about the students, visit the Del Mar Times website.
River Valley Fest 2018 is on October 14!

Congrats Coast to Crest Trail Challengers!
Terry and Barbara Weeks at Volcan Mountain
32 people completed the Coast to Crest Trail Challenge in May!

Congratulations to:

Philip Galit
Francine Vincent
John & Joe Duncan
Judy Gaukel
Barbara & Terry Weeks
Judy & Gilbert Kunkel
Karen Villedieu
Hector & Henrietta Balvaneda
Nirma Dukes
Jackie Graciano
Jorge Sanchez
Karl Leckner
Cassie McCardell
Nadine Mastrogiacomo
Jeff Moore
Patricia Joyce
Curt & Kathy Foster
Gail & Conrad Beck
Elaine Bryant
Rory Osborne
Kelly Lyndon
Chris Hildum
Denise and Eric Douglas
Ginny Mugg
Alex Fung

June is the last month to finish the Coast to Crest Trail Challenge! Stay tuned for our next challenge starting in July...

We love seeing your photos and hearing your stories. This month, we wanted to recognize Judy Gaukel, who completed the Challenge with some of the other moms in her son's Scout troop. Judy wrote:  

Thank you for this cool challenge. A few of us scout moms decided we would do this challenge in honor of one of the scout dads who died suddenly when the plane he piloted crashed. We all backpacked and hiked with him many times and he was a huge inspiration for being outdoors. We wanted to honor his memory by hiking, and we talked about him on each hike, so in essence, he completed the challenge with us. His name was Peter Gillcrist. He was "that kind" of guy-impacted a lot of boys in the troop.

Learn more about the Coast to Crest Trail Challenge here.
Coming Up in June
6/2 - National Trails Day at River Path Del Mar
National Trails Day is American Hiking Society's signature trail awareness program that inspires people of all ages to discover, engage, and celebrate trails while participating in outdoor activities and trail work projects. 

Join the Conservancy as we team up with REI and Hike San Diego to help to remove invasive plants and other needed habitat restoration activities along one of the Coast to Crest Trail segments at the River Path Del Mar. 

All ages welcome. Volunteers should wear sturdy shoes or boots and a hat and bring a water bottle and sunscreen. Tools and gloves provided. 

Afterwards we will all head to Viewpoint Brewing to cool off after working in the sun!

When: Saturday, June 2nd from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Where: River Path Del Mar 

6/9 - Rattlesnake Safety Class
Summer is here, and so are rattlesnakes! With the the weather warming up, you're bound to see more slithering snakes on trail.

Join the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy & Southwestern Field Herping Associates for a FREE, fun and educational class for beginning and seasoned outdoorsmen and women. Snake researcher, Steve Bledsoe, will give an in depth presentation on identifying dangerous snakes in San Diego County and what to do if they are encountered in the wild.

Come learn what to do if you see a snake and how you and your family, friends, and pets can stay safe in the outdoors! 

Space is limited and registration is required.
For more information, please contact Ana Lutz, SDRVC Education Manager at

When: Saturday, June 9th from 10:00 am - 12:30 pm
Where: Del Mar Library, 1309 Camino Del Mar

6/16 - Members-Only Hidden Hike at Lake Sutherland
Join us for a Hidden Hike at Lake Sutherland led by Trish Boaz, Executive Director of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and Jeff Pasek, Watershed Manager of the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department. We will greet you at the gate to Lake Sutherland, Sutherland Dam Road, off Highway 78 at 9:00 a.m.

From there we will carpool to the starting point of the trek. This is a 4.5-mile easy-moderate hike and we will be rewarded with amazing views, and perhaps see a wild horse or two or more!

Please bring plenty of water, wear sunscreen, don a hat (if desired), bring sunglasses.
This is an SDRVC Members-Only Event and is limited to 26 people. If you are not a member and would like to join, please purchase a membership.

We love our furry friends, but please NO DOGS on this hike.

When: Saturday, June 16th from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Where: Lake Sutherland

June Events

Sundays, 6/3, 6/10, 6/17, 6/24:
North San Diego Certified Farmers Market & Farmhouse Tours
Saturday, 6/2:

Sunday, 6/3:
San Dieguito Monthly Bird Count

30th Annual RB Alive! Expo
Saturday, 6/9:
Rattlesnake Safety Class

Sunday, 6/10:
Volunteer Trail Maintenance

Spring Wildflower Hike
Saturday, 6/16:

Star Party and Family Hike

Sunday, 6/17:
Nature Touch Tabe
Saturday, 6/23:
West Vista Loop Dawn Patrol Hike

Crest Canyon Volunteer Event

What Happened in May
Rare Plant Survey  

On May 18th, Conservancy Conservation Manager Jonathan Appelbaum and summer Conservation Intern Justin Salazar conducted a survey for the San Diego Ambrosia (Ambrosia Pumila), which is federally-listed as Endangered, at the Hodges Reservoir Open Space Preserve following the San Diego Management Strategic Plan (MSP) rare plant monitoring protocol. San Diego Ambrosia is a perennial herb, endemic to Southern California, that is known from less than 60 occurrences across San Diego and Riverside Counties.

Jonathan and Justin mapped the 2018 extent and estimated the population size at approximately 6,750 individuals-a 15% decrease from the population size in the comparatively wet 2017 season. Long-term monitoring of this occurrence and other nearby occurrences will enable land managers to more effectively manage for the species.
DAR Plaque Dedication Ceremony at Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead  

While some were celebrating the Mexican victory over the French at the battle of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo was also an opportunity to celebrate the Daughters of the American Revolution De Anza Chapter's completion of their plaque to honor the Sikes family of Bernardo.

Through research into Zenas Sikes, who helped found the farming community of Bernardo and ushered in the first generation of commercial agriculture in North San Diego County, the ladies at the De Anza Chapter DAR found that his forefathers had served in the American Revolution. This led to a push to create a plaque to honor the Sikes family and their contributions to the growth of early San Diego. As a thank you to Sikes Adobe and the San Dieguito River Park in being a partner in this project, the DAR also made a small plaque to honor Ron Hall, a dedicated volunteer docent and early supporter of the River Park who passed away in 2017.

This plaque will be placed near the entrance of Sikes Adobe under a beautiful Engelmann Oak that was donated by Big Trees Nursery. The Ceremony included proclamations by local politicians and dignitaries, live banjo accompaniment, and a full color guard flag ceremony with DAR members in Continental Army uniforms.
LNT Interpretive Walk at Piedras Pintadas

Leave No Trace (LNT) Master Educator Al Bates guided a group of hikers on the Piedras Pintadas trail, which is a perfect location to highlight LNT principles 2, travel/camp on durable surfaces, and principle 6, respecting wildlife. With some early morning rain, we found many native flowering plant species, herps, and soaring birds. Al taught participants how to sustainably enjoy and respect our natural and cultural resources with the hopes of sharing them with generations to come!

Ms. Smarty-Plants and Beautiful Butterflies

Ms. Smarty-Plants visited Sikes Adobe this month with a collection of beautiful butterflies in tow! An eager group of kids (and parents) learned all about these fascinating pollinators, how to create a butterfly habitat, and how to help the threatened Monarch.