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Restoration Initiatives

Supporting community-based wetland restoration initiatives


One watershed: two nations

Earth Island Institute is funding a project in Los Laureles Canyon, in Tijuana Mexico. The Tijuana River is a great example of water not abiding by political boundaries. The Tijuana River has its headwaters in San Diego County, but then turns south into Mexico. For ¾ of its length it runs from the city of Tecate to the City of Tijuana, before bending northward once more and emptying into the Tijuana Estuary, in Imperial Beach California. Tijuana River

The amazing team at has also produced this informative, and humorous video (En Espanol) on the issues of the Tijuana River, and it’s impact on Imperial Beach.

While a majority of funding for the Tijuana Estuary goes to the U.S. side of the border, Earth Island Institute has been funding the work to fix the problem at its source: in Mexico. Our Restoration Initiatives Fund has granted over $75,000 to the work done in Los Laureles Canyon in Tijuana. We support the work of Oscar Romo, the Coastal Training Coordinator for the Tijuana River Estuary Program. Oscar’s commitment and vision is manifesting in several exciting ways! Earth Island Funds pay for:

  • the work of Oscar Romo and Miriam Lopez to work in the canyon daily
  • the importation of Native Plants to the canyon
  • erosion control measures to slow erosion and protect soils
  • education of local residents about watershed protection
  • training of local residents to restore the canyon ecosystem
  • Construction of pervious pavers by local residents to help capture rainwater and recharge underground aquifers

photo of a man harvesting carrots in a gardenRestoring a watershed located in The United States and Mexico is challenging, to say the least. Much of the necessary work must happen in Mexico, where the river meets many sources of pollution and erosion. During a heavy rain, fragile soils erode away, washing away roads. Huge sediment loads overrun the watershed and end up burying and polluting precious wetlands of the Tijuana Estuary. Enormous amounts of plastic debris flow from Mexico into the Estuary, eventually making their way into the ocean.

Check out this quick video, taken by Julia Robertson, about the plastic debris problem of the Tijuana Estuary
(Julia’s video)

For an in-depth exploration of the issues, challenges and solutions for watershed health on the border, click here to watch a short film done by UC San Diego on Los Laureles Canyon.

How you can help: make a tax-deductible contribution to the Earth Island Institute, and help us increase our giving to this extraordinary effort to work with two nations to protect one of people filling bottles with soil

Want to volunteer? Bring a group of volunteers to participate?
Oscar Romo
Watershed Coordinator
Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve
301 Caspian Way, Imperial Beach, CA 919132
Phone 619-575-3613
Fax 619-575-6913