Dear ,

Have you been making the most of the cold, wet weather?
Volcan Mountain was a beautiful, peaceful retreat earlier this month after snow fell in the higher elevations. We're now looking forward to a lush, green spring filled with wildflowers!

The Conservancy and River Park have been plenty busy so far in 2019. We're planning Citizen Science programs, a special Watershed Explorers series (held on weekends for families to attend together!), and further work on the Fairbanks Ranch - Rancho Santa Fe Invasive Plant Eradication and Stream Enhancement Project. Look for updates on all that and more in this edition of Riverscape!

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!
News & Updates
Conservancy Receives New Grant Funding
We're pleased to announce that the Conservancy and our project partners, the Urban Corps of San Diego, have been awarded $53,500 in funding for the Fairbanks Ranch - Rancho Santa Fe Invasive Plant Eradication and Stream Enhancement Project.
The funds will be used to contract crew labor from the Urban Corps to conduct invasive plant removal activities beginning in fall 2019. These funds were awarded to the Conservancy and the Urban Corps of San Diego as part of the local allocation of Prop 68 funds to local conservation corps.
The Conservancy was also awarded $18,664 in funding from the California Fire Safe Council's Fire Prevention Grant Program to control invasive plants within Lusardi Creek County Preserve beginning in fall 2019. The Conservancy will contract the Urban Corps of San Diego to conduct this work following the end of nesting season in September.

Watershed Explorers Weekend Series
The Conservancy and its partners, the San Dieguito River Park JPA, San Diego Archaeological Center, and Volcan Mountain Foundation, are proud to offer one of a kind family-friendly events this Spring! Come join us to learn about the unique natural and cultural resources within our watershed. For more information, visit our website or Facebook events page.

Support the Conservancy Through "Loving our Local Outdoors" with REI!

REI has selected three local stewardship projects -- including the Conservancy's trail building, maintenance, and enhancements in Gonzales Canyon -- and is asking their members help them decide how to invest $20,000 in those projects.

Here's how it works:

REI members will receive a voting token for every purchase made in-store from March 7th through April 8th.

Place the token in the Conservancy's container.

Projects will receive funding based on the number of tokens they receive. 

All 3 projects will receive funding, but the exact amounts will be determined by how many tokens they receive! So if you've been thinking about a new backpack, hiking boots, or other gear, and you're an REI member, please plan to shop between 3/7 and 4/8!
Conservancy Education Manager to Speak at SD Climate Summit
At Climate Science Alliance's San Diego Climate Summit 2019, the Conservancy's Education Manager, Ana Lutz, will be speaking in regards to the Microclimates on a Macroscale program created this past fall. Interested in attending? Spots are filling up fast, register here .

Citizen Science in 2019
The Conservancy is pleased to announce exciting new Citizen Science programs in 2019! Our focal site for 2019 will be the Santa Fe Valley Open Space, located off of Del Dios Highway in the Santa Fe Valley/Del Dios Gorge. The Santa Fe Valley Open Space is a 170-acre open space preserve that contains high quality riparian, grassland, marsh, vernal pool, coastal sage scrub, and chaparral habitats. The open space is managed by Rincon Consultants, a longtime the Conservancy partner.  
In addition to our core Citizen Programs, which include spring botanical surveys, quarterly bird surveys, continuous wildlife camera trapping, and intermittent herpetological surveys, our 2019 Citizen Science program plans to include surveys for new taxa, including late spring butterfly surveys, led by Conservation Manager Jonathan Appelbaum and benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) surveys led by local naturalist Bob Forthun. Our BMI survey will take place on Saturday, March 30th from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and our first butterfly survey is tentatively scheduled for Sunday May 19th from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Read more
Applications Open for River Park Scholarships!

Click here to apply!
Hodges Reservoir Oxygenation Project
This year, the City of San Diego Public Works will be constructing a hypolimnetic oxygenation system at Lake Hodges. Due to the diverse land uses within the watershed and runoff associated with upstream development, Hodges Reservoir has several water quality challenges that have restricted the ability to move water in and out. A goal of the hypolimnetic oxygenation system (HOS) project is to improve water quality.

The initial phase began at the end of February. Upland construction is expected to last from February through early spring. During that time, trail access may be temporarily impacted. Learn more about the project here. Information about construction and other updates will be shared here.

Bird of the Month: American Kestrel
by Ranger David Hekel

Our smallest falcon, the kestrel is also one of the most familiar and widespread in North America. Commonly seen perched on roadside wires, or hovering low over a field on rapidly beating wings it hunts by swooping down to capture prey. The eat mostly large insects, some small mammals, birds, reptiles but grasshoppers are among the favored prey.

American Kestrels have two distinct black facial stripes, rust-brown tail and back, slate-blue wings and black-spotted underparts. Female is brown-barred above with brown-streaked white underparts.

They nest in cavities in trees and in places where there are few large dead snags to provide nest sites. They are able to adapt to a wide variety of nesting situations. While they generally prefer natural cavities (such as in trees) with closed tops and tight fitting entrances that provide for maximum protection of the eggs and young. Kestrels occasionally nest in holes created by large woodpeckers, or use the abandoned nests of other birds, such as red-tailed hawks, merlins, and crows.

These small birds of prey can be readily seen throughout the San Dieguito River Park corridor
hunting in the grassy open spaces. Enjoy and as always feel free to share.

Palomar Audubon Spring Birding Class
Palomar Audubon Society is again offering bird classes on consecutive Tuesday evenings beginning Tuesday, April 16th, 2019. The first three classes will be for beginners and the last three (starting Tuesday, May 7th) will be for intermediate birders. The classes will be integrated for beginners taking both classes. There will be three Saturday field trips, April 27th, May 11th and May 25th.

Classes will start at 6:30 pm and run for 90 minutes. They will be held at the Glassman Recreational Center at 18448 RB Community Center Drive off West Bernardo Drive (the large Casa De Las Companas Retirement Home is on the east side of this intersection).

The classes will cover the classification of birds, field markings of local birds, behavior, vocalization, tracking, and the different habitats in San Diego County.

Cost for either class is $60.00 and the cost for both is $90.00. The course will be led by Phoenix Von Hendy, a long-time birding leader in North County and a certified tracker naturalist. For questions about the course contact Richard at

Congrats Coast to Crest Trail Challengers!
15 people completed the Coast to Crest Trail Challenge in February!

Congratulations to:

Cassidy Walker
Jen Cloes
Nicole Miles
Tina Jacobson
Stacy Jensen
The Medeiros family
Mandy Erskine
Karen Davis
Kristine Ensberg
Teresa Baggot
Kathy Thorbjarnarson
Greg May
Shari May

Learn more about the Coast to Crest Trail Challenge here.
Coming Up
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

3/8 - Rare Plant Treasure Hunt

Join the Conservancy, our partners at Rincon Consultants, and CNPS Rare Plant Biologist Amy Patten to learn CNPS Rare Plant "Treasure Hunt" survey methods and help catalog the botanical treasures of the Crosby Habitat Management Area.

WhenFriday, March 8th, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
WhereCrosby Open Space in Santa Fe Valley (8175 Del Dios Hwy)

3/9 - Watershed Explorers: Sikes Adobe

Interested in a fun family weekend? Join the Conservancy and the River Park for an interactive day at the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead, where participants will learn what it was like to be a pioneering family, how the community functioned through crop production, trading and animals that provided food and milk, and the importance of the natural environment in daily living. As a part of our Watershed Explorers Program, families are encouraged to participate as a whole!

WhenSaturday, March 9th, 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Where: Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead

3/9 - Clevenger Canyon Graffiti Removal

The Conservancy and Allied Climbers of San Diego invite volunteers to help remove unsightly graffiti from the Clevenger Canyon North Preserve. All ages welcome with a waiver. Gloves, tools, and water will be provided. Parking is available at the trailhead.

WhenSaturday, March 9th, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Where: Clevenger Canyon North Trail (18379-18499 San Pasqual Valley Road)

3/23 - Clevenger Canyon "Fire Followers" Wildflower Hike

Join the Conservancy and local botanical expert John Messina as we hike the trails of Clevenger Canyon South searching for seldom seen 'fire follower' wildflowers. Last autumn's fires, along with this winter's rains should make for a fantastic display of wildflowers along the trail.  Come prepared to hike with sturdy shoes and plenty of water.

WhenSaturday, March 23rd, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Where: South Clevenger Trail (18259-18313 California 78)

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)

3/30 - Watershed Explorers: San Dieguito Lagoon

As a part of our Watershed Explorers Program, students will engage in six stations to learn about the importance and diversity of the San Dieguito Lagoon! They will observe the diversity of birds found at the lagoon and utilize plant materials collected from the Lagoon to create artwork giving them the opportunity to express their nature experience through art. In addition, students will learn about the animals found within the San Dieguito River Park, test the lagoon's water quality, and have a Park Ranger led walk along the Lagoon Trail!

WhenSaturday, March 30th, 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Where: San Dieguito Lagoon Staging Area

3/30 - Santa Fe Valley Open Space Benthic Macroinvertebrate Survey - Water Bugs!

Join the Conservancy and local expert Bob Forthun as we collect and catalog benthic macroinvertebrates (i.e. insects, arthropods, copepods, and crustaceans) in the San Dieguito River and its tributaries located within the Crosby Habitat Management Area in Santa Fe Valley.

WhenSaturday, March 30th, 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Where: Santa Fe Valley Trail Staging Area (
8173 Del Dios Rd.)

March Events

Sundays, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17, 3/24, 3/31:
North San Diego Certified Farmers Market & Farmhouse Tours
Saturday, 3/2:
Sunday, 3/3:
San Dieguito Monthly Bird Count
Friday, 3/8:

Saturday, 3/9:
Clevenger Canyon Graffiti Removal

Watershed Explorers: Sikes Adobe Adventure

Sunday, 3/10:
Volunteer Trail Maintenance
Saturday, 3/16:
Volunteer Habitat Restoration

San Dieguito Lagoon Bird Walk

Lake Hodges Bird Walk
Sunday, 3/17:
2019 Dinner Dance and Auction

Saturday, 3/23:
Sunday, 3/24:
Saturday, 3/30:
Sunday, 3/31:

What Happened in February
Valentine's on Volcan

A little rain and chilly weather didn't stop this group from enjoying an invigorating, heart-pumping hike up Volcan Mountain last month for Valentine's on Volcan!

Valentine's Teas

Last month, the docents of Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead hosted a Valentine's inspired tea for the ninth year in a row. The fare included finger sandwiches, baked goods such as scones and
cookies, and of course a wide selection of piping hot tea.

Afterwards, the attendees were given a docent-led tour of the house. Holding teas and other social events at the Sikes Adobe is fitting because pioneer farmers such as Eliza and Zenas Sikes would have entertained guests as a means of socializing and keeping in touch. Tea in the Sikes' sitting room, or Zenas' membership in the Grange, were activities that the family took part in to cope with the isolation of 1800s rural life in the agricultural community of Bernardo.

Brigantine Basin Stewardship Event with Solana Beach Presbyterian Church

The Conservancy had a successful volunteer event in February at the Brigantine Basin with a dozen volunteers from the Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. The crew helped remove approximately 150 pounds of trash from the lagoon, pulled several patches of ice plant, removed the last of the tarping from December, and helped gather the flags from our January plantings. Many thanks to SBPC and their volunteers for their support!