Hey Tijuana, You Clean Up Nice!

Oct 18, 2018 | Healthy Habitats, Tijuana River, California

Volunteers celebrate after a cleanup during Tijuana River Action Month in Fall 2015. Photo courtesy Tijuana River Reserve.

Our Tijuana River Reserve and their friends group—the Southwest Interpretive Wetlands Association (SIWA)—are shaping up to be powerful forces in turning back the king-sized tide of trash threatening the Tijuana River Valley. Since, 2014, they have partnered with groups on both sides of the U.S. / Mexico border  to remove 1.1 million pounds of debris from the Valley.

“The commitment of our volunteers, community, and Tijuana River Action Network partners is extraordinary,” says Kristen Goodrich, the Tijuana River Reserve’s coastal training program coordinator. “While we continue to work at addressing trash at the source, it’s critical to frequently remove debris from the River Valley and estuary to keep our precious natural resources healthy and prevent marine debris from reaching the ocean.”

Debris can travel from all over the watershed (highlighted in green) to where the river meets the sea at the Tijuana River Reserve.

The City of Tijuana is developing rapidly, however its capacity to manage debris has not kept up with its growth. Trash, plastic, and larger debris wash down the Tijuana River from Mexico to threaten and degrade the Tijuana River Valley and our Reserve’s valuable ecological, cultural, recreational, and economic resources. Debris has also been identified as a human health issue, as some items, like tires, can hold standing water and serve as a breeding ground for disease-spreading mosquitoes.

With a grant from the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Community-based Marine Debris Removal, the Reserve and SWIA are leading a bi-national effort to reduce the impacts of marine debris in the Tijuana River Valley.

They are working with officials in Mexico to prevent debris at the source, upgrade trash capture infrastructure to trap debris in large sediment basins, and organize volunteer cleanups and other outreach initiatives to raise awareness about the issue.

Read more in the NOAA Marine Debris Program blog.

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