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July 20, 2012

Habitat Restoration Underway at the Otay River Delta!

River Partners, USFWS, and Community Volunteers come out in Force to Begin Planting
Girl Scout Troop 5912 Unveil Watershed Mural for Silver Award

Otay Delta Habitat Restoration Breaks Ground
With Celebration of Girl Scout Silver Award Project
July 14, 2012 – San Diego, Calif. – Together with community leaders and elected officials, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), River Partners and Girl Scout Troop #5912 celebrated the groundbreaking for the restoration of a portion of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and the completion of an educational wildlife mural. About 100 people attended the celebration at the South Bay Unit of the Refuge, including volunteers from River Partners, WiLDCOAST, and the California Conservation Corps.
The USFWS and WiLDCOAST is supporting River Partners’ project, and many community leaders participated in the ground breaking and mural celebration.  They included Charles Eshaur from the San Diego Mayor’s office, Councilmember Pamela Bensoussan of the City of Chula Vista, Andy Yuen of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex, John Willett of the Otay Valley Regional Park Citizens’ Advisory Committee, David Neubert of River Partners, Jo Dee C. Jacob, CEO of Girl Scouts, San Diego-Imperial Council, and Joe Aguilar of Walmart.  After the unveiling of a wildlife mural created by 10 scouts from Irene Barajas' San Ysidro Troop #5912 as a Silver Award project, these officials and community leaders planted the first trees for the project with the assistance from the Girl Scouts.  By the end of the planting celebration, volunteers had installed 500 trees.
Over the next few weeks River Partners and the California Conservation Corp will plant 19,000 native trees, plants, and grasses on the 55-acre site.  River Partners’ re-vegetation design for the area includes native plants like Freemont cottonwood, coast live oak, elderberry, mulefat, and arroyo willow, among others.  The goal is to provide habitat for listed species and migratory wildlife.
“We are extremely proud to begin the planting phase of this important project,” says River Partners’ President John Carlon.  “This is the first project for our Otay River initiative.  Not only will it provide critical habitat for the California Gnatcatcher and Least Bell’s Vireo, it will also add vital green space to an extremely active public use area.”
This effort to restore 55 acres of wildlife habitat has been funded by the California Wildlife Conservation Board, the California Natural Resources Agency and California Department of Transportation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The San Diego Foundation, the Resource Legacy Fund Foundation, and Walmart’s Acres for America program through the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. Additionally, WiLDCOAST and Friends of the Otay Valley Regional Park have led volunteer efforts to clean-up this critical site and support its restoration.