Otay Delta Restoration Moves Ahead, Thanks to Funders

Aerial photo of the San Diego Bay NWR and the City of Chula Vista. The approximate Otay Delta restoration project foot print is outlined in yellow.

River Partners is about to break ground on its first project site in San Diego County, thanks to a coalition of funding partners. Contributions from the San Diego Foundation, the Wildlife Conservation Board, the California Natural Resources Agency, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have allowed the project to move from planning to implementation. According to Greg Treber, project manager, field work could begin as early as February 2011.

The 65 acre project site is located directly west of Interstate 5 on the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), South San Diego Bay Unit. It lies immediately upstream where the Otay River enters San Diego Bay.

River Partners intends to restore habitat quality by replacing non-native vegetation with structurally diverse, native plants to support a variety of neotropical migratory birds, including several listed species, as well as an array of other native wildlife.

According to Michael Rogner, Associate Restoration Biologist, “One goal is to utilize our experience and success at creating least Bell’s vireo habitat in the San Joaquin valley by helping expand their existing range within the Otay watershed.”

For Rogner, “Getting our boots on the ground with local experts, such as Barbara Kus of the U.S. Geological Survey, was critical in the design phase, as she was able to walk us through actual vireo territories and give insight into the important structural characteristics that the species needs. Now our job is to build it.”

A portion of the 24-mile Bayshore Bikeway that runs through the Otay Delta restoration site on the San Diego Bay NWR. Currently the site is dominated by invasive chrysanthemum and arundo.

This restoration project not only would benefit migratory birds, it would increase the natural values of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. In doing so, more recreational space would be available to Refuge visitors as well as the residents of Chula Vista and bikers who utilize the bike path running through project. Since the project is so close to the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, and Imperial Beach, as well as several regional trail systems, it is readily accessible to over 1.5 million people within a radius of 20 miles.

The above article originally appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of the River Partners Journal.