Supervisors, YMCA Partner to Clean Up Tijuana River Valley Park

News Date

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer joined her colleagues on the County Board of Supervisors today to pursue a $20 million federal grant to clean up and enhance the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park. Supervisors agreed to partner with the YMCA of San Diego County to seek an Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

In addition to paying to clean up trash and debris in the park, the grant would help fund green infrastructure and nature-based solutions to provide recreational opportunities and habitat enhancements to the region.

“Contamination from the Tijuana River Valley is not only harming our oceans and communities, it’s harming this regional park, which is a tremendous binational asset,” said Supervisor Lawson-Remer, vice chair of the Board of Supervisors. “It’s very rare to have such a vast amount of land under public ownership, and this partnership with the YMCA could help bring millions of federal dollars to San Diego County to transform this truly unique area.”

The Board of Supervisors voted to authorize County staff to negotiate and enter into a partnership agreement with the YMCA in order to apply for the EPA grant. The EPA requires that applicants have a partnership in place with a community-based organization in order to submit an application.

Encompassing approximately 1,800 acres, the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park is considered by some to be the gateway to the state of California. It is located on land owned by the County near the border of the Tijuana River Valley, and adjacent to Imperial Beach and the Otay Mesa-Nestor communities in the City of San Diego.

Grant application funding breakdown

The County Department of Parks and Recreation plans on submitting the application in request of up to $20 million.

About $14 million to:

  • Remove accumulated trash, sediment, and debris from specific areas within the County-owned property
  • Replace those areas with native habitat to restore the hydrological function of the Tijuana River in this area. 

About $6 million to:

  • Create a new resilience hub with YMCA Camp S.U.R.F. located in Imperial Beach, which would include a community convening space that provides educational activities that would also serve 43 schools in Chula Vista after school programs and other resiliency programs 
  • Serve as a staging area where residents affected by flooding, fire, or other emergencies could receive disaster assistance
  • Establish year-round trail connectivity and wayfinding signage to assist residents navigating the trails and paths that lead to and connect the YMCA resilience hub and the County park 
  • Evaluate pollution reduction strategies such as clean water infrastructure to reduce pollution exposure such as trash and sediment capture as well as disposal of solid and hazardous waste.

Additionally, the grant will support the Gateway to the Californias initiative as part of the YMCA partnership. 

Adjacent to one of the few remaining unfragmented estuaries in the region, the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park includes beach, dune, saltmarsh, riparian and upland ecosystems, providing habitat to diverse plant and animal species. It also contains several historical and archaeological sites, as well as high natural mesas, making it an aesthetic, cultural, and recreational asset. 

This area has the possibility of becoming a binational landmark that can offer more recreational and educational opportunities to residents of all ages, interests, and abilities with a special focus on youth and adult sports. In addition, the County believes it can serve as a unique tourist attraction, resiliency hub, and place that fosters the spirit of binational collaboration and unity.

Read the entire proposal here