By Pablo Jaime Sainz
Located next to Kimball Elementary School in National City, Paradise Creek is an urban stream that connects San Diego Bay to the watershed of the sorrounding mountains and city landscape.
Most of Paradise Creek has been altered by development, however this small half a mile stretch remains in its natural state.
It is a beautiful wetland habitat that provides an ecosystem for birds, carbs, horn snails, and many wetland plants.
In order to maintain this paradise for future generations, the City of National City along with several state agencies have come together to begin construction of the wetlands reserve, which will be called Paradise Creek Educational Park and will include park trails, educational signs and an amphitheatre.
On Tuesday, September 13, National City Mayor Nick Inzunza, Paradise Creek Director Ted Godshalk, along with several students from Kimball Elementary broke ground on the project.
“It’s a beautiful day and as a community we come together to begin construction of a paradise,” Inzunza said. “This is trully about giving children a chance to be close to nature. It is about exposing them to more than concrete and asphalt. It is about exposing them to a better understanding of the environment.”
National City Councilmember Ron Morrison also emphasized the educational role Paradise Creek will play.
“Paradise Creek is going to be one of those places that instead of saying, ‘Children, stay away from it’, we’re going to say, ‘Children, this is the place you need to be,’” he said.
During the ceremony, Ted Godshalk, executive director of Paradise Creek Educational Park, said that the plans for this project have been around for more than 10 years.
“This is an effort to reclaim, and restore the natural wetlands and transform it into an educational facility for all to use, especially National City children.”
He also gave a brief history of the creek:
“When National City became more urbanized, residents started thinking that the creek was on their way. They were trying to control it. This place was full of trash, rugs, old tires. It was the people who deserved the bad image, not the creek.”
Godshalk then addressed the group of elementary students who were present at the event.
“You students will be the ones who will have to take care of this creek for future generations,” he said.
Glen Schmidt, principal of Schmidt Design Group, Inc., the company responsible for construction of Paradise Creek Educational Park, said that children will be the ones benefiting from the project the most.
“There’s a lot of people here who are very passionate about connecting children to nature,” he said.
John Lormon, a retired board member of State Coastal Conservancy, agreed.
“Here in front of me are the future generations of environmentalists,” he said, referring to the students from Kimball Elementary.
There are several educational programs going on right now for students.
In the Egret Club, students (ages 7 to 12) gain a wide view of the interrelationships of natural ecosystems around them. They learn about wildlife of tide pools, rocky shores and salt marshes and about the conservation issues facing these animals and plants.
Birds and Bikes is a monthly program in which students take birdwatching bike trips around San Diego Bay. Adult program leaders teach the students how to identify the resident and migratory bird species.
Creek Day, which is held at Paradise Creek on the last Saturday of every month, gives students kayak credits which can be redeemed for a free kayak trip on San Diego Bay.
The Kids and Kayaks program allows for learning about the coastal ecosystem while having fun and staying physically fit.
Children, you can help Paradise Creek!
Here’s how you can help:
· Keep an eye on the creek and storm drains in your neighborhood. Report Stordrain pollution to the City of National City at (619) 336-4389.
· Participate in Creek Days at Paradise Creek. It’s always on the last Saturday of the month at 18 St. and Hoover Ave.
· Join the “Egret Club” and “Birds and Bikes” if you are a student. High school students can join the “Teen Apprenticeship Program.”
· For more information visit www.paradisecreek.org.
Paradise Creek Educational Park is located at 1815 Hoover Ave., in National City. The phone number is (619) 851-5623.