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San Diego River Park Conceptual Plan

conceptual plan In its earliest days, the San Diego River Park Foundation set out to champion the creation of a community-based vision for a river park system from the mountains to the ocean. With funding from the San Diego Foundation and the State of California Coastal Conservancy, the River Park Foundation enlisted the support of Cal Poly Pomona’s widely acclaimed Studio 606 program, which uses graduate landscape architecture students in partnership with the university’s faculty for projects like this one.

Through a series of public workshops from Julian to Ocean Beach, community members were engaged to help shape the vision of the River Park system. It was an incredible process and lots of great ideas emerged. These efforts resulted in the June 2002 San Diego River Park Conceptual Plan.

The San Diego River Park Conceptual Plan served as a starting point and represented the first step in the process of bringing the river park into reality. The plan was presented to elected officials from the County of San Diego, City of Santee and City of San Diego. It was also incorporated as the guiding vision for the State of California’s San Diego River Conservancy.

The Plan provides a framework for creation of the San Diego River Park system. The work done in 2001 – 2002 continues to serve as the basis for the work of the San Diego River Park Foundation and others working on creating the River Park system. Its values of finding a balance between people, water and wildlife which celebrates San Diego’s rich cultural and natural legacy to enhance the quality of life remain the foundation of our efforts.

A Watershed-based Approach

When considering a river, you must consider its entire watershed and beyond. This holistic approach is essential to sustainability of an ecosystem. The San Diego River Watershed, the area that drains into somewhere along the River, covers approximately 440 square miles. It connects communities from Julian, Descanso, Alpine, Lakeside, San Diego Country Estates, Crest and others as well as cities such as El Cajon, Santee, Poway and San Diego. It also includes five tribal reservations.

The San Diego River Watershed has the greatest population of any watershed in San Diego County. It contains some of the most densely populated areas as well as areas that are remote and pristine.

There are five reservoirs in the San Diego River watershed supplying water to approximately 760,000 residents in the region. It also has the second highest peak in the County, Cuyamaca Peak at 6,512 feet, which during parts of the year will be covered with snow.

Despite its vast area, the River’s ecosystem is fragile and threatened in some locations due to development patterns, infrastructure projects and flood protection projects. Taking a watershed-based approach takes all of this into account when endeavoring to create better future for the River.

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