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Cleanup Scheduled To Help Protect The San Diego River Estuary

If you see canoes and kayaks in a protected area of the San Diego River on Saturday morning, don't be alarmed. It's part of a special cleanup effort.

The San Diego River Park Foundation and nearly 100 volunteers plan to cleanup the southern wildlife preserve located in the estuary of the San Diego River.

Volunteers will do a clean up of the San Diego River and surrounding estuary on Saturday, February 13, 2010. The river is seen here on July 16, 2008.
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Above: Volunteers will do a clean up of the San Diego River and surrounding estuary on Saturday, February 13, 2010. The river is seen here on July 16, 2008.

"That's located between Interstate 8 and Sea World Drive," said Rob Hutsel, Executive Director of the San Diego River Park Foundation. "It's a three-mile long stretch of just gorgeous estuary, important wildlife area for birds in particular but also fish."

He said the estuary is off-limits to people because it is a sensitive habitat area of the river and home to many species that are endangered or at risk of extinction. But the Foundation has special permission to enter the estuary preserve for 3 hours with up to 20 kayaks and canoes to remove trash and debris from the water.

Volunteers on the shore will also patrol the banks of the estuary to remove trash and debris.

Hutsel says 95 percent of California's coastal wetlands no longer exist due to development and other issues.

He says coastal wetlands, including estuary, serve key functions including the filtering of pollutants and debris.

A light-footed clapper rail photographed in San Diego on June 7, 2009.
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Above: A light-footed clapper rail photographed in San Diego on June 7, 2009.

Hutsel said the San Diego River estuary is used by more than 100 different species of birds as a rest area along the Pacific Flyway during their yearly migrations between Alaska and Mexico.

"One of the birds using the estuary as a nesting site is the light-footed clapper rail," said Hutsel. "It's a very special bird. It looks like a chicken, it's kind of funny looking, but there's only about 100 of them left in the world."

Hutsel said the San Diego River Park Foundation is the only non-profit organization working to restore and enhance the entire San Diego River, from the mountains to the ocean.

Audio

Aired 2/12/10

If you see canoes and kayaks in a protected area of the San Diego River Saturday morning, don't be alarmed. It's part of a special cleanup effort.

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