Wow! We know it's cliche but really -- how is it already October? 2017 has flown by, but luckily, it's been full of successes and accomplishments throughout the River Park!

Photo by Aaron Chang

The Conservancy is deep in planning and prepping for the River Valley Fest (have you made your reservations yet?). The River Park broke ground on the Pamo Valley segment of the Coast to Crest Trail. We're moving forward with Watershed Explorers, Citizen Science, restoration projects, and more. And we're relishing the cooler weather! Fall in San Diego County is one of the best hiking seasons -- we hope you're taking advantage and getting out on the trails!

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, October
1, 8, 15, 22, 29
10:30 am - 3:30 pm
North San Diego Certified Farmers Market - Rain or Shine!
Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead:

Sunday, October 8
7:30 am - 10:30 am
Introduction to Wildlife and Landscape Photography
3 miles, moderate
Hosted by Krisztina Scheeff, KS Nature Photography

Sunday, October 8
9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Kanaka Fall Hike
7 miles, moderate
Hosted by San Diego County Parks

Sunday, October 8
4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
8th Annual River Valley Fest
Meet at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club:
Cost: $150/person
Hosted by SDRVC

Wednesday, October 11
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Solar and Sunset at the Powerhouse
Meet at Del Mar Powerhouse Community Center:
Co-hosted by SDRVC and Sullivan Solar Power Company

Thursday, October 12
3:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Tacos for Trails Benefit Ride and Dinner
Meet at Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead:
Cost: $100/person, limited to 85 people
Hosted by San Diego Mountain Biking Association

Saturday, October 14
8:00 am - 11:30 am
Off the Beaten Path with Ranger Doug
7 miles, strenuous
Hosted by San Diego County Park Ranger Doug

Saturday, October 14
9:00 am
Canyoneer Hike at Santa Ysabel Preserve West
6 miles, strenuous
Hosted by San Diego Natural History Museum Volunteers

Saturday, October 14
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Oh the Horror - Clean Your Drawer Costume Swap
Co-hosted by SDRVC and Thread Bumpin'

Sunday, October 15
10:00 am
Yoga at the Birdwing
Hosted by SDRVC and Yoga Instructor Susan McCrea

Saturday, October 21
8:00 am - 11:00 am
Volunteer Habitat Restoration
Hosted by San Dieguito River Park Ranger Jake Gibbs

Saturday, October 21
8:00 am
Canyoneer Hike at Mule Hill
7 miles, moderate
Hosted by San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers

Saturday, October 21
8:30 am - 10:30 am
San Dieguito Lagoon Bird Walk
Hosted by Buena Vista Audubon Society Bird Walk Leader John Haddock

Saturday, October 21
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Falcons and Hawks! The Art of Falconry
Co-hosted by San Diego County Parks and Master Falconer Cisco Clibourne

Saturday, October 21
10:00 am - 11:00 pm
"Running Grunion" Comedic Native American Performance by Abel Silvas
Hosted by SDRVC

Sunday, October 22
9:00 am - 11:00 am
Acorns! How to Plant and Grow an Oak Tree
Hosted by San Diego County Parks

Sunday, October 22
10:00 am - 11:30 am
Be Like Bigfoot & Leave No Trace
Co-hosted by SDRVC and Leave No Trace trainer Al Bates

Saturday, October 28
9:00 am
Canyoneer Hike at Volcan Mountain
Meet at Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve Parking Area:
4 or 6-mile options, strenuous
Hosted by San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers

Saturday, October 28
10:00 am
Radical Reptiles
Optional 2-mile hike, easy
Co-hosted by SDRVC and Living Coast Discovery Center

Sunday, October 29
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Nature Touch Table
Meet at Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve Parking Area:
Hosted by San Diego County Park Rangers

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
Eco Ambassadors Results
We'd like to thank everyone who voted for the Conservancy during this year's Eco Ambassadors Campaign! After nearly three weeks of voting, the Conservancy came in 5th place-which means we'll receive a grant from SDG&E for $3,000, which will go towards our Watershed Education program.

We'd also like to congratulate the other five organizations that participated, especially the winner, San Diego Coastkeeper!

Grants for Fairbanks Ranch Restoration
The Conservancy received two grants recently for the Fairbanks Ranch Habitat Restoration project. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provided a grant of $15,000 and Patagonia provided a grant of $10,000.

The Fairbanks Ranch project began in 2015, when residents of Fairbanks Ranch became concerned about the health of their watershed following the 2007 wildfires. Due to the success of the work conducted to date, several new owners signed onto the project, and the work has expanded to 200 acres, covering additional parcels in Fairbanks Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe.

With this grant, we will once again hire a 10-person crew from American Conservation Experience to remove arundo, tamarisk, pampas grass, and other non-natives from these new project areas. Work will be conducted over a two-week period in October.

We'll also conduct Citizen Science surveys across the project site to collect valuable data documenting the use of the area by birds and other wildlife before and after non-native, invasive removal efforts. This will be accomplished through multiple walking surveys and use of wildlife camera traps on the site.

New Conservancy Website
Have you noticed? The Conservancy's website has a new look!

Our new layout and design is much more visually appealing and easier to navigate. We'd like to thank the team at Salt Collective for their work on the new site!

SDRVC Board Member Shelley Glenn Lee Honored by EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced six winners to receive the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators  (PIAEE). The PIAEE awards recognize innovative educators who bring environmental education into their classrooms through hands-on, experiential approaches.

Shelley Glenn Lee, a teacher at High Tech Elementary North County in San Marcos, received an honorable mention.

Welcome Volunteer Caretaker Ken McDonald!
Ken McDonald is the newest edition to our volunteer team at Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead. Ken or "Mac," as he is sometimes, called was a perfect fit for our Volunteer Caretaker position. He grew up on a homesteaded farm in British Columbia, joined the US Navy in 1953, was an aerospace engineer for twenty years, and has worked as a resident caretaker for other organizations such as the Elks Lodge.

Ken is an enthusiastic and motivated volunteer who has approached the work in and around Sikes with a knowhow that can only be gained with years of experience working different kinds of jobs and trades.

Years ago, when Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead was restored to its former 1880's glory and opened to the public, the River Park needed to keep someone on the site for added security and maintenance needs. The volunteer caretaker works for the San Dieguito River Park part time in maintenance, patrolling, and assisting educational and interpretive programs on site.

Finished Scout Project: Raised Garden Bed
Recently, one Eagle Scout embarked on an ambitious plan to build a raised garden bed to replace the old bed at the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead's interpretive kitchen garden. Nick Castle with Troop #649 undertook the planning and construction of a large garden box that replaced the smaller and older box that was previously in use on the farmstead.

This was a complicated project: irrigation lines had to run in and around the garden box and then connected to a pre-existing tank which is filled by a windmill-powered well. The water in the tank can be released and gravity distributes the water throughout the box. The box is filled with locally produced garden soil, specifically made for raised boxes. The garden box is lined around the bottom and on the sides with a galvanized steel mesh that is intended to keep out gophers and other animals which love to help themselves to the Sikes produce.  

Dedicated volunteers work and maintain the interpretive kitchen gardens and orchard. Our volunteers also sell the produce to the public every Sunday at the North San Diego (Sikes Adobe) Certified Farmer's Market.

If you are interested in volunteering in our interpretive kitchen garden and orchard at Sikes  Adobe, please contact Ranger David at dvidal@sdrp.org.

Rediscover San Diego Visits Sikes Adobe
Rediscover San Diego is a class taught by Donna Eckstein, Ph.D, an instructor with San Diego Continuing Education, who teaches courses for senior citizens, ages 55 and up. In Rediscover San Diego, the students are taken to presentations and tours of places where they meet people who are making a positive impact in our community. The class will meet at a different location in the county every week during the semester to learn about science, history, civics, and culture.

In September, two of her classes visited Sikes Adobe for a ranger and docent-led tour of the house and grounds.  Prior to the tour, several of the students regaled the class with stories of growing up on a farm:  stories of raising chickens and pigs and all the responsibilities that fell on children who grew up in rural agricultural communities.  The class listened intently to this under the shade of a tree and in plain view of Sikes' own chickens.

If you are interested in taking Donna Eckstein's Rediscover San Diego class, information can be found at rsddonna.org.  If you have a group that is interested in scheduling a private tour of Sikes Adobe,  contact Ranger David at dvidal@sdrp.org .

Volunteer Enrichment at the NAT

Each year, the San Dieguito River Park organizes an enrichment program for our active volunteers to a location or institution which is designed to widen their understanding of natural or cultural resources and in turn make them more well-rounded volunteers in the park.  Some twenty volunteers, many of them Dust Devils, were treated to a private docent-led tour of the San Diego Natural History Museum.

This museum, also known as the NAT, was originally founded as the San Diego Society of Natural History is the oldest scientific institution in southern California, and the third oldest west of the Mississippi according to its website. The institution has occupied the same building in Balboa Park since 1933.  

Reservations Now Open! 
This year, River Valley Fest is going Coast to Crest - And Beyond! Make your reservations online here.

Psst: We have a sneak peek of some auction items-a selection of photographer Aaron Chang's Lake Hodges photos! Check them out here and you can even start your bidding early!

Congratulations Coast to Crest Trail Challenge Finishers!
9 people completed the Coast to Crest Trail Challenge in September!

Patricia Brijandez taking in the sunset from the Clevenger Canyon chairs

Congratulations to:
Jill Sells
Stephen LaCerte
Jennifer Cain
Cynthia Cardoso
Patricia Brijandez
Joe Hannigan
Chelsea Roach
John Heckel
Shelley Dunn

Learn more about the Coast to Crest Trail Challenge here.
Coming Up in October
Solar & Sunset at the Powerhouse
with Sullivan Solar Company
October 11th
Join SDRVC and Sullivan Solar Power Company for a discussion on the importance of alternative energy sources, trends within San Diego County, and community choice energy! Sullivan Solar Power will join us to educate and empower the community about 3 the importance of alternative, green energy resources and how to navigate the solar industry.

We'll discuss:
  • Community Choice Energy and why it's important
  • How solar works
  • If solar will work for your home
  • Available incentives
  • Battery storage and integration
  • How to choose a solar provider
  • Policy changes and what it means for you

PARKING INSTRUCTIONS: Free parking options in the neighborhood off Coast Blvd. North of 17th Street, paid parking meters under the L'Auberge Hotel, along Coast Blvd. between 15th and 17th Streets. Please contact SDRVC's Education Manager Ana Lutz with any questions at ana@sdrvc.org. We can't wait to see you there!

When: Wednesday, October 11th from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Where: Del Mar Powerhouse Community Center: 1658 Coast Blvd., Del Mar

Oh the Horror - Clean Your Drawer Costume Swap
October 14th
Want to be green, spooky, and affordable this Halloween? Then join SDRVC and Thread Bumpin' (https://www.meetup.com/Thread-Bumpin/) to swap costumes, decorate pumpkins, and satisfy your sweet tooth!

This event is designed to be a  "swap in/ swap out" costume swap. So, however many pieces you bring ("swap in") is the amount you can take ("swap out").

For the first 20 families, you will have the opportunity to decorate and take home a mini pumpkin of their choice! Light refreshments will be provided to all who attend.

Clothing swaps are a great way to connect with your community, live a more sustainable lifestyle, and take home an affordable outfit!

Please contact Ana Lutz, Education Manager, with any questions at ana@sdrvc.org.

When: Saturday, October 14th from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Where: Birdwing Open Air Classroom

Citizen Science Bird Survey 
at Volcan Mountain
October 19th
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 August 31st 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. To register or get more information, email Conservation Manager Jack Hughes at jack@sdrvc.org.

When: Thursday, October 19th at 8:15 am
Where: Albertsons parking lot, 1459 Main St., Ramona

"Running Grunion" Comedic Native American Performance by Abel Silvas
October 21st
Curious about the roots of San Diego? Come discover the complexities of San Diego Native American history and culture through the comedic performance by Abel Silvas!

Abel Silvas is a comedic performance artist whose ancestors were Native Americans and Californios of Del Mar. His storytelling portrays his family's life during different historical eras, going back to the "Del Mar Man," who fished for grunions 12,000 years ago, to the first Spanish sailor who arrived in the 1700s. After the missions closed in the 1800s, his family received a Mexican Land Grant and built their rancho homes along the San Dieguito River. In the early 1900s, his cousin Don Diego Alvarado was the most-recognized symbol of a gracious Del Mar Fair host.

When: Saturday, October 21st from 10:00 am to 11:00 am
Where: Birdwing Open Air Classroom

Be Like Bigfoot & Leave No Trace
October 22nd
Don't love nature to death, learn how to recreate and preserve at the same time!

The guiding principles of Leave No Trace are important for every teen, from the avid hiker to the indoor gamer, to know and teach younger generations on how to be stewards of our limited natural resources.

Al Bates, Leave No Trace Trainer, will help educate your young adults on outdoor ethics, their importance, and how to responsibly enjoy nature and cultural resources through interactive exercises taught at the Birdwing Open Air Classroom.

Registration is required and closes October 17th. Please email Ana Lutz, Education Manager, at ana@sdrvc.org with any questions.

When: Sunday, October 22nd from 10:00 am to 11:30 am
Where: Birdwing Open Air Classroom

Radical Reptiles at the Birdwing
October 28th
Crawl into the world of reptiles, with Living Coast Discovery Center's animal ambassadors. Learn about what all reptiles have in common. Look at snake skin up-close and compare the sizes of tortoises and sea turtles.

After the presentation, SDRVC will lead you on an optional, easy, 4-mile round-trip hike around the San Dieguito Lagoon.

When: Sunday, October 28th from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Where: Birdwing Open Air Classroom
Cost: FREE. Space is limited to 50 people.

What Happened in September
Lake Hodges Family Adventure
The Conservancy and Family Kayak hosted families at Lake Hodges for some kayaking and hiking! A guided two-mile hike covered details regarding the watershed, ecology, sensitive habitats, and the history of Lake Hodges. Kayaking instructors led people on the water, where they got an up-close look at different birds.

Sky Hunters at the Birdwing
The Conservancy partnered with Sky Hunters last month to give people the opportunity to see some birds of prey up close and learn more about what it's like to live in the air.

Nancy Conney of Sky Hunters brought a kestrel, a screeching owl, and a barn owl. These birds can't live in the wild (due to previous injuries), so Sky Hunters rescues and rehabilitates them so they can serve to educate people about their behavior and habitats.

Coastal Cleanup Day
Thousands of volunteers turned out throughout San Diego County for the 33rd annual Coastal Cleanup Day, joining nearly a half million other volunteers across the globe. California Coastal Cleanup Day is the state's largest volunteer event. When combined with the International Coastal Cleanup, organized by Ocean Conservancy and taking place on the same day, California Coastal Cleanup Day becomes part of the largest volunteer events in the world.

This year the San Dieguito River Park JPA, San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, SDG&E, 22nd District Agricultural Association, and AECOM partnered to host 120 volunteers at 8 different sites around the San Dieguito Lagoon. Activities included trash pick up (on trails and surrounding areas as well as by kayak), massive invasive plant removal, plants installed, and children's activities.

Coast to Crest Trail Challenge Guided Hike at San Dieguito Lagoon
We had a great turnout for our second guided Coast to Crest Trail Challenge hike last month!