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Program Area

South San Diego Bay is protected as the 3,490-acre San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, which provides important habitat for migratory, threatened and endangered birds and species and supports important coastal salt marsh and intertidal mudflats. Important bird species include the Least Bell’s Vireo, California Least Tern and the California Gnatcatcher. 


Immediately adjacent to South San Diego Bay is the Otay River Watershed that  includes the 8,869-acre Otay Valley Regional Park, a river parkway located north of the US-Mexico border. The Otay River empties into San Diego Bay at the South San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It is one of the last areas of open space in South San Diego County and supports riparian habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife.


Important bird species include the Red Tail Hawk, great Blue Heron, Burrowing Owl, and the Snowy Egret.  The watershed also provides habitat for mountain lions, bobcats, and the ringtail. 


(Photo Credit: Port of San Diego)

Conservation Strategies

WILDCOAST is carrying out the following efforts to conserve South San Diego Bay/Otay River Watershed:

·       Support riparian and wetland restoration efforts.

·       Facilitate community involvement in habitat restoration projects and stewardship of these community environmental resources.

·       Develop interpretive signage and park outreach materials.

·       Carry out environmental education programs and engage stakeholders and community groups in the stewardship of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the Otay Valley Regional Park.


Through our conservation strategies, we have accomplished the following in the South San Diego Bay and Otay River Watershed:

  • Created the "Scenic South Bay Vision" a plan: A comprehensive visioning document that gives stakeholders and elected officials guidance on how to balance conservation and public access in South San Diego Bay.  
  • Engaged 343 volunteers in the removal of 9,000 pounds of trash from the Otay Valley Regional Park.  
  • Carried out the 4th annual "Discover Otay Valley Regional Park Day", which engaged 250 participants in stewardship and educational activities in the park and included local elected officials for speakers.  
  • Reached 2,237 people in outreach activities and direct educational presentations regarding the OVRP, South San Diego Bay and the Otay River Watershed.  
  • Engaged 34 stakeholders and elected officials in tours of the OVRP and South San Diego Bay.  
  • Actively engaged the south San Diego residents to support the restoration of the Pond 20 wetland and shorebird habitat at the south end of the San Diego Bay.
  • Supporting the beautification of the urban area surrounding the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge through the removal of old fencing and construction debris.
  • Supported the restoration of 63 acres of riparian habitat in the Otay River Watershed with partner organizations, including River Partners. 
  • Designed 32 bilingual interpretive signs to be installed throughout the Otay Valley Regional Park.  
  • Helped maintain 11.5 miles of trails in the Otay Valley Regional Park through volunteer engagement. 
  • Engaged 1,077 volunteers in stewardship activities including advocacy events, restoration work and beautification projects. 
  • Removed 13,400 pounds of trash and planted 561 native plants throughout the Otay River Watershed. 
  • Reached an estimated 250,000 community members through communications campaigns on issues related to the restoration of South San Diego Bay and the Otay River Watershed.



Take Action

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Cory Pukini
Conservation Coordinator

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Additional Information

Fact Sheet