As 2017 starts to wind down (what??), we're taking some time to reflect on the past year. 

Once again, your support has been incredible. Last month's River Valley Fest brought in over $100,000 for the Conservancy, which will go towards our conservation, education, and recreation programs, including Watershed Explorers, Citizen Science, guided hikes, and more! We are thrilled to continue our work in the River Park.

Photo by Aaron Chang

And of course, we're already looking forward to next year. Keep an eye out for more exciting programs and events, from photography workshops to guided mountain bike rides to chances to meet wildlife ambassadors in person. 

One last thing...want to get a head start on your holiday shopping? Conservancy memberships make a great gift for the nature lovers in your life, and when shopping online, use Amazon Smile, iGive, or eBay Giving Works to donate a portion of your purchases to the Conservancy! 

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, November
5, 12, 19, 26
10:30 am - 3:30 pm
North San Diego Certified Farmers Market - Rain or Shine!
Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead:

Saturday, November 4
8:00 am - 11:00 am
Beyond Backpacking Basics: What's Inside Your Pack?*
Hosted by REI
Cost: $40 for REI members, $50 for non-members
Limited to 12 people

Saturday, November 4
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Hike All the Way Across
8 miles, strenuous
Hosted by San Diego County Park Ranger Bill

Sunday, November 5
7:30 am - 12:00 pm
San Dieguito Monthly Bird Count
Hosted by San Dieguito Monthly Bird Count Leader Jayne Lesley

Sunday, November 5
9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Kanaka Fall Hike
7 miles, moderate
Hosted by San Diego County Parks

Saturday, November 11
8:30 am - 11:30 am
Bernardo Bay Bird Walk
Meet at Rancho Bernardo Recreation Center:
Hosted by Palomar Audubon Society Field Trip Leader Jeff Ebright

Saturday, November 11
4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Dark Sky Family Hike and Star Party
2 miles, easy
Co-hosted by San Diego County Park Ranger Bill, Curiosity Peak Observatory, and Julian Dark Sky Network

Sunday, November 11
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Falcons and Hawks! The Art of Falconry
Co-hosted by County of San Diego Parks and Recreation and Master Falconer Cisco Clibourne

Thursday, November 16
9:00 am - 11:00 am
Crest Canyon Work Party*
Hosted by San Diego Canyonlands

Saturday, November 18
8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Mountain Biking San Diego: Lake Hodges*
Hosted by REI
Cost: $60 for REI members, $80 for non-members
Limited to 8 participants

Saturday, November 18
8:00 am - 11:00 am
Back Trails Hike
7 miles, moderate
Hosted by San Diego County Parks

Saturday, November 18
8:00 am - 11:00 am
Volunteer Habitat Restoration*
Hosted by SDRP Ranger Jake Gibbs

Saturday, November 18
8:30 am - 11:30 am
San Dieguito Lagoon Bird Walk
Hosted by Buena Vista Audubon Society Bird Walk Leader Bird Walk Leader John Haddock

Sunday, November 19
7:30 am - 10:30 am
Introduction to Wildlife and Landscape Photography*
3 miles, moderate
Hosted by Krisztina Scheeff, KS Nature Photography

Sunday, November 19
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Nature Touch Table
Hosted by San Diego County Park Rangers

Sunday, November 19
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Wildcrafting: Oak Acorn Holiday Cookies*
Meet at VMF's Volcan Nature Center:
Hosted by Volcan Mountain Foundation
Cost: $20/person
Limited to 12 participants

Sunday, November 19
10:00 am - 11:00 am
Yoga at the Birdwing*
Co-hosted by SDRVC and Yoga Instructor Susan McCrea

Friday, November 24
9:00 am - 11:30 am
Green Friday West Vista Loop Hike
5 miles, moderate
Hosted by San Diego County Parks 

Friday, November 24
9:00 am - 11:00 am
#OptOutside: Gonzales Canyon Nature Hike*
Meet at Sword Way
Co-hosted by SDRVC, San Diego Canyonlands, and City of San Diego Park Rangers

Saturday, November 25
10:00 am - 12:30 pm
Getting Outdoors: An Introduction to Family Hiking
Hosted by San Diego County Parks Staff Member Eric

Sunday, November 26
9:00 am - 11:00 am
Acorns! How to Plant and Grow an Oak Tree
Hosted by San Diego County Parks

Thursday, November 30
7:30 am - 12:00 pm
Citizen Science Bird Survey on Volcan Mountain*
Meet at Albertsons:
1459 Main St., Ramona for carpooling
0.85 miles, moderate-strenuous
Hosted by SDRVC

All events are free unless otherwise noted.

For hikes, all mileages are approximate.

*Pre-registration required

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
Another Successful River Valley Fest
The 8th annual River Valley Fest was a great night! Several hundred guests enjoyed music performed by Bill Fleming & Friends, a hosted cocktail hour, gourmet buffet-style dinner,  and exciting live auction lead by Clint Bell.

We honored two deceased former board members, Wolfgang Berger and Greg Roberson, whose widows, Karen Berger and Barbara Roberson respectively, were in attendance. Berger and Roberson also received a proclamation from the County Board of Supervisors in honor  of their husbands.

We also recognized Roland and Loreen Welhelmy for their gift in 1998 of 200 acres of property in the San Felipe Valley, which was recently sold to the Bureau of Land Management for $190,000.

Finally, we raised over $110,000 for our conservation, education, and recreation programs! Thank you to all who attended and donated.

JPA Secures 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 and provides an important wildlife corridor. This undeveloped portion of the watershed provided by the preserve also filters runoff from the developed communities upstream before the water reaches the San Dieguito River.

Internship Opportunity with Conservancy
The Conservancy is looking for an Environmental Education Intern! The position starts on November 20th and will go through May 11th. Applications are due to Education Manager Ana Lutz ( by November 6th!

Rangers Save Injured Owl
Not long after the fawn rescue on Highland Valley Road in early September, SDRP rangers happened upon yet another wild animal in need of assistance.
On Saturday, September 30th, Ranger Felipe was out patrolling the Coast to Crest Trail just west of Raptor Ridge when a trail user informed him of a barn owl that couldn't fly. Fortunately, Rangers Hilary and JJ were already on their way inland from the San Dieguito Lagoon to pick up some tools for the following week, so after hearing about the owl from Felipe, they picked up a spare animal crate and some towels from the main office and headed over.
With 3 rangers working together, they were quickly able to capture the hurt owl and place it in the crate. Rangers JJ and Hilary then drove the owl to Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona.The owl did have a hurt wing, but was able to make a full recovery. It was released back into the San Dieguito River Park around Sikes Adobe on Saturday, October 21st.

Introduction to Wildlife & Nature Photography
The trails within the San Dieguito River Park and around Lake Hodges have always been popular for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and just relaxing and taking in the magnificent views of the watershed. It has also become a hotspot for birders and nature/wildlife photographers alike.

Since everyone with a smartphone these days has a camera, Senior Park Ranger David Hekel, with the help of KS Nature Photography, came up with the concept of having an
Introduction to Wildlife and Nature Photography hike series.

During the series of three hikes we introduce participants to the notion that the best way to experience nature and wildlife is to be out there amongst it, and that whatever camera you happen to have in your hand at the time is the best way to capture it.

After a brief introduction where professional photography Krisztina Scheeff provides tips and tricks of nature and wildlife photography, the attendees are taken to various areas around the lake and given the opportunity to put that knowledge to work.
So far the program has been a huge success and we have had people of all ages join us. The groups have captured over 20 different species of birds on camera and taken home lasting memories and in some cases, a new hobby.

The next and final installment of the series is on Sunday, November 19th. If you have ever wanted to take nature and wildlife shots but weren't sure how or if you just want to get out and hike and enjoy the fresh air, we invite you join us.

Congratulations Coast to Crest Trail Challenge Finishers!
10 people completed the Coast to Crest Trail Challenge in October!

Dave & Christine Bartolomasi completing their 4th hike in Clevenger Canyon

Congratulations to:
Bob Ceasar
Jack Brennen
Janet Chenier
Gerald Robles
Dave & Christine Bartolomasi
Jim & Sarah Aeling
Elizabeth Ronald
Marcie Sale

Learn more about the Coast to Crest Trail Challenge here.
Coming Up in November
Family Volunteer Day
November 18th
Families and people of all ages are invited to join the River Park and the Conservancy at Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead on November 18 th to celebrate Family Volunteer Day. For over 25 years, Family Volunteer Day has been held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to "kick-off" the holiday season with giving and service. This year we are celebrating with the help of The Walt Disney Company and generationOn.

Join us as we remove non-native plants and plant native ones. Gloves and tools provided. 

For more information and directions to the site, email Conservation Manager Jack Hughes at

When: Saturday November 18th, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Where: Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead (12655 Sunset Dr, Escondido, CA 92025)

Citizen Science Bird Survey with Palomar Audubon
November 30th
If you are a birder or an aspiring birder - we want you! The Conservancy and Palomar Audubon are hosting a citizen science bird survey on November 9th at our Rutherford C property near Volcan Mountain in Julian. This walking survey is approximately 0.85 mile (round-trip) and rated moderate-strenuous due to the elevation and slope. The group will meet in Ramona and carpool to the site. 

For more information, email Conservation Manager Jack Hughes at  

When: Thursday, November 30th at 7:30 am
Where: Albertsons parking lot, 1459 Main St., Ramona, CA 92065

San Pasqual Battlefield Event
December 3rd
One cold and wet December morning in 1846, the Army of the West under the command General Stephen Watts Kearny had received intelligence that a contingent of Californio lancers was in the vicinity of the San Pasqual Valley.
Originally starting in Kansas, the Americans had just completed the longest march in US military history and were eager to engage their enemy. What was intended to be a surprise attack ended up being the bloodiest battle in California during the Mexican-American War in which the Army of the West suffered heavy losses.

Afterwards, the Americans limped their way to Mule Hill where they remained surrounded for nearly three days before they were relieved by a larger force and made it to San Diego.
Every year, the San Dieguito River Park participates in Battle Day, which is organized by the San Pasqual Battlefield Volunteer Association and California State Parks. SDRP will be present with a table where we will interpret the events that took place at Mule Hill, after the Battle of San  Pasqual.

With interpretive events such as these, we are able to promote local history which can be found in the park and along the Coast to Crest Trail. Join us on December 3 rd from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park, find the River Park's table, and learn how Mule Hill got its name!

Event information can be found here

When : Sunday, December 3rd from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Where: San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park (15808 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido)

What Happened in October
Citizen Science Bird Survey
Six Citizen Scientists, led by the Palomar Audubon Society, recorded 24 species at Volcan Mountain last month. New species at the survey site included a Sharp-shinned Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, and American Kestrel. 
Sharp-shinned hawk. Photo by Gail DeLalla

Oh the Horror Costume Swap
We had a great time swapping costumes with Thread Bumpin' at the Birdwing last month! 


Abel Silvas Performance at the Birdwing
Thanks to everyone who came out for Abel Silvas' performance at the Birdwing!

Be Like Bigfoot & Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace trainer Al Bates led a workshop on the principles of Leave No Trace and outdoor ethics. Participants even got a chance to do some hands-on exercises.

Radical Reptiles at the Birdwing
Another great day at the Birdwing with Living Coast Discovery Center! We met Tank the tortoise and Coral the rosy boa before going on a hike around the lagoon.