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Program Area

This unique coastal region includes some of the most critical coastal and marine ecosystems in Southern California.  The 1,569-acre Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, is listed as one of 21 wetlands of international importance by the RAMSAR Convention.

With sensitive sand dunes, beaches, vernal pools, tidal channels, mudflats and coastal sage scrub, it provides critical habitat for nationally endangered species such as San Diego Fairy Shrimp, the Light-footed Clapper Rail and the Salt Marsh Bird's Beak. The estuary also serves as a key nursery ground for commercially important fish like the Diamond turbot and the California halibut and is the last largest un-fragmented wetland in Southern California.


The 1,920-acre Tijuana River Mouth Marine Protected Area (MPA) adjacent to the Tijuana Estuary was established as an MPA in 2012. This underwater 1,920-acre park is home to precious marine species such as leopard sharks, bottlenose dolphins and the California Spiny Lobster. The Tijuana River Mouth MPA is part of a statewide network of MPAs established over the last ten years under the California State Marine Life Protection Act.


Due to poor water quality and hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash and waste-tires carried across the U.S.-Mexico border by the Tijuana River during the winter months, the Tijuana Estuary and Tijuana River Mouth MPA experience severe ecosystem and wildlife impacts. 

Conservation Strategies

WILDCOAST works to conserve and restore the 3,489 acres of protected ecosystems in the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Tijuana River Mouth Marine Protected Area through the following activities carried out on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border:

·       Supporting and carrying out conservation and habitat restoration programs for project sites;

·       Eliminating sources of sewage and trash that impact coastal ecosystems and protected areas;

·       Building a constituency of engaged stakeholders and decision-makers to support conservation and restoration;

·       Supporting conservation policies and sustainable land use around project sites; and

·       Organizing and carrying out project site and beach cleanups.


WILDCOAST Launches Waste Tire Recycling Pilot Project in Tijuana in May 2016


WILDCOAST was thrilled to launch the Waste Tire Recycling Pilot Project in Tijuana today with project partners Secretary of Environmental Protection for the State of Baja California (SPA), GEN (Promotora Ambiental S.A. de CV)  and supported by a grant from CalRecycle.  This innovative, collaborative project will be carried out from May 2016-April 2017 in partnership with the State Governments of Baja California and California with WILDCOAST as the project coordinator.


The goal of the project is to collect and recycle approximately 50,000 waste tires in the Tijuana-San Diego border region from May 2016 until April 2017.  During rain events, these waste tires flow into the Tijuana River through tributaries along the border, cross the international boundary, and eventually impact habitat and recreational resources the Tijuana River Valley and adjacent coastal ecosystems.  Additionally, the waste tires create habitat for the Aedes mosquito which can carry Zika virus, Yellow Fever and Dengue.  We look forward to working with our partners on this project and establishing a long-term solution to waste tire management in the Tijuana-San Diego border region.   


Since 2006 we have:

·       Successfully advocated for a 66 million dollar upgrade to the International Waste Water Treatment Plant located in the Tijuana River Valley that is currently treating sewage from the City of Tijuana to advanced secondary levels. This has greatly improved beach water quality in the border region.

·       Aided and made recommendations to the Tijuana River Valley Recovery Team’s recovery strategy, a document that identifies a path for implementing a collaborative mutually beneficial plan across ownership and jurisdictional boundaries within the Tijuana River Valley.

·       Helped to pass the California Tire Recycling Act to prioritize ways to recycle waste tires in Mexico that were originally exported from California. 

·       Worked with the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health to improve beach water quality monitoring in south San Diego County.

·       Educated over 8,550 students and residents in south San Diego and Tijuana on water quality issues,;

·       Trained 585 local clean water advocates in methods to reduce ocean pollution and safeguard their health;

·       Mobilized 10,103 volunteers who have donated 22,803 service-hours valued at more than $525,000 to remove 370,340 lbs. of ocean-bound trash, and 7,634 waste-tires from Los Laureles Canyon, the Tijuana River Valley, Tijuana Estuary, Tijuana River National Wildlife Refuge and coastal areas adjacent to the Tijuana River Mouth MPA.




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Fay Crevoshay
Communications and Policy Director

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Zachary Plopper
Conservation Director

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Additional Information

Fact Sheet