June 15, 2007

More than 200 Participate in Bi-National Volunteer Effort

Federal, state, and nonprofit organizations partner with REI to improve environment on both sides of the Border.

IMPERIAL BEACH - The Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, California State Parks, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Refuge System, the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association, WiLDCOAST, and Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) joined together at Border Field State Park and Playas de Tijuana, Mexico for a volunteer event on Saturday, June 2 to celebrate National Trails Day.

“A team effort is essential to protecting our coast and ocean, more so in the border region where two countries share the same ecosystem,” said Serge Dedina, Executive Director of WiLDCOAST. A total of 227 volunteers worked at three service sites. Participants included REI’s members, Board of Directors, Corporate Officers, and staff; area Cub Scout packs; local school groups; and other members of the community in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Eighty volunteers collected 300 bags of trash in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico; 91 volunteers cleared three acres of invasive vegetation in Border Field State Park; and 56 volunteers planted over 800 native plants on Monument Mesa. Collectively, they donated 510 hours of community service.

“Volunteers are key to improving the environmental health of this area,” said Reserve Manager Clay Phillips, State Parks Superintendent of San Diego South Sector. “Working together, they accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time. The benefits to wildlife and the coastal ecosystem are tremendous.”

The volunteer events culminated with a grant presentation on Monument Mesa. REI awarded $5,000 to the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to wetland acquisition, preservation, restoration, and education in the Tijuana River Valley.

The grant will help to increase local support for the stewardship of coastal habitats by engaging the community in meaningful and rewarding volunteer activities at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve.

For more information about the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve’s Volunteer Program, contact Sarah Emerson, Volunteer Coordinator, at 619.575.3614 or semerson@parks.ca.gov.

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