Cheryl Goddard tapped to lead Conservancy

The Friends are delighted to learn about the appointment of Cheryl Goddard as executive director of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC). The Conservancy, a sister organization, preserves and protects the river valley through land acquisition, trail work, habitat restoration, and educational programs.

Most recently Ms. Goddard was a senior planner with the City of Chula Vista’s Development Services Department. Previously she spent 16 years as an environmental planner and manager in the County of San Diego’s departments of Planning and Land Use and Recreation where she carried out land conservation programs, planned parks and trails, and secured grants for habitat restoration.

Ms. Goddard earned bachelor’s degrees in urban studies and planning and ethnic studies from the University of California, San Diego, and holds a master’s degree in public administration from San Diego State University. She is a member of the San Diego chapter of the Association of Environmental Professionals.

Del Mar Horsepark will ride again

The 22nd Agricultural District on June 6, 2022 awarded the contract to manage the historic equestrian facility to Tom Struzzieri, CEO of Struzzieri Ventures, Inc., after a previous show management company pulled out. The popular equestrian site was abruptly closed in December 2020 due to new water regulations requiring a $3 million-$4 million investment in infrastructure improvements. Some 35 horse show contracts were cancelled with the closure of the facility.

Mr. Struzzieri’s company, HITS (Horse Shows in the Sun), operates similar facilities nationwide and plans to bring back the Del Mar Horse Park as a world-class event facility in time for the 2023 show season. HITS will be working through the end of this year to install a new drainage system to filter storm and runoff water, as well as improve footing in the rings, adjust the layout to be more exhibitor friendly, and upgrade the stables.

Friends of Del Mar Horsepark collected over 17,000 signatures petitioning the 22 DAA, owner of Del Mar Fairgrounds and Horsepark, to find a way to reopen the 65-acre facility. They were aided by local city council members, the Fair Board and staff, and supported by the San Dieguito River Park Conservancy.

Additional wetlands restoration underway

The second phase of the W-19 Restoration Project has begun, adding 60 acres of new wetlands to the 160-acre San Dieguito Lagoon and wetlands restoration that started in 2012. The restoration is converting former agricultural fields to saltwater wetlands and, according to SANDAG, a partner agency with Caltrans and the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority (JPA) will “enhance and maintain the natural flood control channel.” The project will include the planting of native species, maintenance of adjoining wetlands, and relocation of utility poles into an existing utility corridor.

–  Click on map to enlarge.

Preserve and protect the river valley

How you can help

The Friends’ Board of Directors has several openings. We are a 501(c)(4) organization that promotes and supports conservation, restoration, preservation, and enhancement of the natural scenic, ecological, and open-space resources of the San Dieguito River Valley. We achieve this through advocacy, study, monitoring, and education. Unlike our affiliates, the Friends’ 501(c)(4) status allows us to engage in political and lobbying activity.

The River Valley needs you. Send us an email if you would like to join the FSDRV.

River Path Del Mar

Coming soon, the missing half-mile link

A draft environmental study for extending River Path Del Mar beyond the Grand Avenue Overlook finds the project will not have a significant impact on the lagoon environment with only minor mitigation measures needed. The City of Del Mar may soon approve the study and begin plans to extend the existing trail southeast along the southern side of San Dieguito Drive for half a mile to the Crest Canyon Trailhead. This link will provide a continuous trail through Crest Canyon, across Del Mar Heights Road, through the Torrey Pines Extension, Carmel Valley Road, and across Torrey Pines Reserve to the Pacific Ocean. A remarkable link, made up of a single, five-foot-wide decomposed granite path and a six-foot-wide boardwalk path along the lagoon, completes the loop around Del Mar’s perimeter as envisioned in their 1976 Community Plan. “The project will enhance access to outdoor recreation opportunities such as walking, bicycling, bird watching, and photography,” according to the City. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2023.

El Camino Real bridge

Widening project to start in late 2022

Artist’s rendering of the new bridge and river trail beneath.

The El Camino Real and Bridge Widening Project will begin later this summer, 17 years after it was first proposed by the City of San Diego. Hikers, bicyclists, and riders will finally be able to follow a continuous trail along the northern shore of the San Dieguito River and safely pass under a new, wider bridge at El Camino Real. The project will include restoration of the currently eroded trail just west of El Camino Real. 

Community groups asked for changes in the original plan which included widening Via de la Valle, raised 24-foot-wide concrete medians, turnouts, and traffic signals. The new design changes all that and incorporates the communities’ recommendation to underground utility poles on the south side of Via de la Valle. The changes were made in an effort to retain the river valley’s pastoral character while raising the bridge above the 100-year flood plain level and implementing bike lanes, equestrian trails, and a crossing on the River Park’s multi-use trail.