National Public Lands Day: Sat. Sept. 24

Saturday, September 24th
Border Field State Park
9am to noon

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands in the United States.

Volunteers at the Tijuana Estuary will plant native vegetation to help restore a section of Border Field State Park. No special skills necessary, just a willingness to get your hands dirty!

Please be sure to wear long pants and closed toe shoes. Sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and reusable water are recommended as well.

Volunteers under the age of 18 must bring signed parent consent forms (available by request), and volunteers under 16 must attend with an adult.

Check out the progress volunteers having been making on this restoration site since 2009:

Photos of restoration site in 2009

Photos of restoration site in 2010

Photos of restoration site in 2011

Last year, 170,000 volunteers worked at over 2,080 sites in every state, the District of Columbia and in many U.S. territories. NPLD volunteers:
-Removed an estimated 450 tons of trash
-Collected an estimated 20,000 pounds of invasive plants
-Built and maintained an estimated 1,320 miles of trails
-Planted an estimated 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plants
-Contributed an estimated $15 million to improve public lands across the country

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Shorebird Steward Materials and Resources

Patrol Calendar Sign-up

Tijuana Slough NWR North Beach: Seacoast to River Mouth

Silver Strand Training Complex (US Navy)

Patrol Data Sheets

Tijuana Slough NWR North Beach: Seacoast to River Mouth

Silver Strand Training Complex (US Navy)

Data Sheet Instructions

Training Materials

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Shorebird Steward Volunteer Duty Statement

Reporting Violations

Materials Checklist

Off-Leash Dog Parks

Roving: Basic Interpretation Handbook

Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring

Volunteers are needed to collect water quality samples and take basic water chemistry measurements one Saturday per month. This program is in partnership with San Diego Coastkeeper, Surfrider San Diego and the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. More information can be found on the San Diego Coastkeeper website.

Habitat Alteration

Southern California represents one of the most dense urban settings in the nation, and estuarine habitats and adjacent lands have been heavily modified by human activities.  The situation for habitats associated with the Tijuana River Reserve are particularly acute, as the Reserve occupies a portion of land on the International Border with Mexico.

Hydrological and biological inventories and assessments were conducted and a Geographic Information System database was developed as a foundation for restoration planning. A long-range plan for restoring the estuary’s tidal prism and intertidal wetlands was developed, and the plan was reviewed in a programmatic EIR/EIS approved and adopted by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Coastal Conservancy.

The original Tijuana Estuary Tidal Restoration Program (TETRP) called for approximately 500 acres of intertidal wetland restoration to be undertaken in increments using an adaptive management design process with monitoring and evaluation of projects to influence design decisions for subsequent phases. The first project of the program, a 1,200-foot channel connecting the northern end of Oneonta Slough and the tidal ponds southeast of the visitor center, was constructed in winter 1997.  Subsequently, final engineering plans for a 20-acre intertidal wetland restoration were prepared as a first module of the 500-acre south arm component of the TETRP.  This 20-acre Friendship Marsh (Model Marsh), which emphasizes tidal creeks and the marsh plain, was constructed in 2000-2001.  Excavated materials were used on-site to restore a degraded piece of upland habitat that was once a sand-mining operation.  Monitoring for regulatory compliance and research purposes is ongoing.

Since completing the Model Marsh, project leaders and hired consultants have adjusted the acreage of land to be included in the restoration program to approximately 200-250, largely due to sedimentation risks and/or degradation in the most southerly areas of the original 500 acres.  Through a project facilitated by the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association and funded by the State Coastal Conservancy, a feasibility report was completed for a 250-acre restoration project in the south end of the Reserve. The Stewardship Program plays a role in large projects such as these by engaging in the planning and implementation process and through assistance with regulatory agency communications and environmental review.

This area also faces disturbance pressures associated with border infrastructure and security and undocumented immigration activity. A new Border Infrastructure Project has been a major focus of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Elements of this project for the local region have been under construction for years. In the summer of 2008, following the transfer of nearly 50 acres of land from the Reserve to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, major construction for the Border Infrastructure Project was initiated in this region.

A significant focus of this project is to develop a fortified barrier and patrol road system that stops illegal crossings and allows for rapid Border Patrol Agent response along the length of the International Border. Adjacent to the Reserve and in closely associated regions, project construction has resulted in the movement of major volumes of earth, cutting mesa tops and filling canyons in an effort to level the topography of the area and facilitate a linear road and fence corridor. The Stewardship Program works to conserve natural resources threatened by this condition. Some of the regular activities include: work with Border Patrol agents to communicate our resource objectives and develop an understanding of U.S. Homeland Security needs; attempt to minimize disturbance and effects from patrol infrastructure impacts; and monitor conditions.

Changes in Biological Communities

Plants and animals in the region have been dramatically impacted by habitat loss and degradation, species invasion, and overharvesting,. Species remaining in these systems are often of high conservation concern. Historically the Tijuana River Valley has been subject to disturbances from military activity, ranching and agriculture. Much of the disturbed land has been colonized by invasive exotic plant species. Additionally sediment-laden flow events from Goat Canyon have resulted in high levels of ecological disturbance, creating large alluvial deposits that have been colonized and dominated by non-native plant species. Non-native species of primary focus include: tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima), arundo (Arundo donax), castor bean (Ricinus communis), perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium), black mustard (Brassica nigra), Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii), and chrysanthemum (Glebionus coronarium). The habitats affected by this include salt marsh, freshwater riparian scrub and alluvial scrub, all habitats that are relatively rare throughout the region and support sensitive species. The Stewardship Program works to control exotic vegetation in these disturbed areas through chemical application, manual removal, and planting efforts. The Stewardship Program also promotes enhancement of native plant diversity through native plant propagation and planting efforts.

The coastal dune system within the Tijuana River Reserve supports populations of Western snowy plover (Charedrius alexandrinus) and California least tern (Sterna antillarum), two species of regional importance that have lost much of their nesting habitat to coastal development. The Stewardship Program works to protect these populations through habitat delineation with fencing and signage; control of invasive iceplant (Carpobrotus edulis), a species that can occupy quality nesting areas; involvement in community outreach efforts such as volunteer-based beach monitoring and education; and through contracting and working with specialists for predator control and population monitoring activities.

Water Quality

Salt marsh habitat throughout Southern California is jeopardized by stormwater flows and sedimentation. In the Tijuana River Estuary, tidal channels and salt marsh habitat have been lost to sedimentation. The Goat Canyon Sediment Basins were constructed (2003-2005) to stop excess sediment flowing from a highly disturbed canyon in Mexico. These basins capture up to 60,000 cubic yards of material each winter and must be excavated every fall. These basins serve as a model for the region. The Stewardship Program plays an active role in managing this facility with tasks including: soliciting contractors and over-seeing basin work, promoting beneficial re-use of the material, promoting basin improvements such as trash capture and consolidating devices; monitoring basin conditions throughout the year and during excavation, and maintaining environmental permits necessary for facility operation.

Visitor Center Map

Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center

301 Caspian Way
Imperial Beach, CA 91932

From the I-5 South/North: Take exit 4 – Coronado Avenue (not Coronado Bridge).  Head West on Coronado Avenue for approximately 2.5 miles. (Around 13th street, Coronado Avenue will turn into Imperial Beach Blvd; continue straight on).  Turn left on 3rd Street at the stop sign, then left on Caspian Way which leads into parking lot. (parking is free)

From Coronado: Take 75 South. Turn right on Rainbow Drive. Turn right onto Palm Avenue. Turn left on 3rd Street at the stop sign, then left on Caspian Way which leads into parking lot. (parking is free)

From Palm Avenue trolley station: Take bus #933 to 3rd Street and Imperial Beach Blvd.
Turn left on 3rd Street at the stop sign, then left on Caspian Way which leads into parking lot.

From Iris Avenue trolley station: Take bus #934 to 3rd Street and Imperial Beach Blvd. 
Turn left on 3rd Street at the stop sign, then left on Caspian Way which leads into parking lot. 

Border Field State Park

Physical Address
1500 Monument Rd.
San Diego, CA 92154
all mail should be sent to the visitor center

Open to vehicle traffic Saturday and Sunday, when road is not flooded.
From the I-5 South/North: Take exit 2 – Dairy Mart Road. Head Southwest on Dairy Mart Road. Dairy Mart Road will curve right onto Monument Road. Turn right (West) on Monument Road until you reach the park entrance.

From Imperial Beach: Head East on Imperial Beach Blvd (it will become Coronado Avenue in Imperial Beach). Just before you reach the freeway, turn right onto Hollister Street. Continue down Hollister until you reach Monument Road. Turn right (West) on Monument Road until you reach the park entrance.



Stewardship Volunteers


To care for the resources of the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve by establishing, restoring, and maintaining the native plant gardens and habitat at the Reserve; performing routine maintenance and stewardship of the trails; propagating quality local native plant stock in the native plant nursery for restoration efforts; removing graffiti and litter; and helping to cleanup the beaches.

Skills/ Qualifications:

Successful habitat restoration volunteers will be hard workers, be interested in restoring natural habitat, and be able to perform physical labor outdoors. Gardening experience is helpful but not required.


Stewardship volunteers perform a variety of duties, depending on their schedules and interests. Duties can include removing invasive plant species, planting native species, collecting seeds, repairing disturbed natural areas, educating the public about the restoration process, propagating plants, removing brush, trimming overgrown vegetation, replacing signs, repairing broken fencing and handrails, and helping to maintain the nursery facility.

Reports To:

Stewardship Associate


4 hours per month (minimum) Sessions are held every Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Visitor Center, as well as every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Border Field State Park.


All volunteers must first complete the online Volunteer Application. Once the application is received, you will be contacted to set up a volunteer interview where you will be able to ask questions about the program and fill out the necessary volunteer paperwork for California State Parks and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In order to become more familiar with the Tijuana Estuary, we require that volunteers complete several online training modules which provide an overview of wetlands, estuaries, and the Core Programs here at TRNERR. In addition, stewardship volunteers will participate in on-the-job training that includes information on plant identification, invasive plant removal, and native plant gardening.


Develop gardening, trail maintenance, and landscaping skills. Learn about the estuarine environment. Become acquainted with the dedicated Reserve staff and their programs. Support indigenous plant and animal species, including those listed as rare and endangered. Enjoy the outdoors while volunteering. See firsthand the results of your work. Join a team of volunteers dedicated to restoring the natural environment.

To apply: Submit a Volunteer Application Form