Why protect the river valley?

As it flows through the center of San Diego County, east to west from Volcan Mountain to Del Mar, the San Dieguito River and its major tributaries pass through some of the County’s most beautiful natural areas.

Over thousands of years, the effects of erosion and subsequent downstream siltation have created an extraordinary array of topographic features that set the San Dieguito River Valley apart from many of the other river valleys in the County. The steep canyon slopes, such as those found in Clevenger Canyon, combined with the broad floodplains that characterize Pamo Valley and San Pasqual Valley support a diverse population of plants and animals. Numerous rare, endangered, and sensitive species occur within this valley including the California Gnatcatcher, Arroyo Toad, Least Bell’s Vireo, and Del Mar Sand Aster. Due to the diversity and abundance of bird species in and around Lake Hodges, the National Audubon Society has designated Lake Hodges as an Important Bird Area. Recent surveys indicate that Lake Hodges supports some 200 species of breeding, wintering, and migratory birds, of which 13 of these species are considered sensitive or endangered.

In addition to its natural resources, the San Dieguito River Valley also has a rich cultural heritage dating back more than 9,000 years. The earliest known Native American occupation in San Diego County is located within the river valley just downstream of Lake Hodges. There is also a long history of agricultural activities in the Valley. These activities continue today in the San Pasqual Valley, which has been designated as an Agricultural Preserve by the City of San Diego.

The San Dieguito River Valley provides one of the last opportunities to glimpse into San Diego’s past – to understand what the region looked like, smelled like, and felt like, before it was developed. By preserving the river valley, our children’s children will have the opportunity to observe and appreciate the valley’s diverse assortment of plants and animals. The public lands and open spaces within the valley provide an escape from the hectic world we have created, offering a place to observe the wonders of nature or simply to walk, run, or ride for the sole purpose of improving the health of our bodies and our minds.

We encourage you to experience the San Dieguito River Valley by visiting one of the many areas within the valley open to the public. For more information about trails and organized hikes contact the San Dieguito River Park at (858) 674-2270 or visit their website at www.sdrp.org.

We also encourage you to get involved in the efforts to protect the San Dieguito River Valley for the enjoyment of future generations. One way to do that is to join the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley. Established in 1986 as a non-profit 501(c)(4) group, the Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley was formed to actively promote the conservation, restoration, and enhancement of the scenic, ecological, and open space resources of the river valley, emphasizing the importance of the ecological resources. The Board of Directors holds monthly meetings and hosts this website to keep members and the public up-to-date on activities related to the river valley.