important TRVEA News

Important news for equestrians of the TRV is chronologically listed on this page.


(Always look at Topics ->Newsletters for very fresh information.)


County Parks Kicking Off Massive Trail System Improvement

May 21, 2013, County Ranger Station Monument Road: County Supervisor Greg Cox, County Parks Director Brian Albright, and Program Manager Patrick McDonough made an unexpected announcement that on September 15, 2013 through February 1, 2014, the north side of the river’s designated trails are fully funded for improvement and work will begin. Supervisor Cox, through a series of funding maneuvers with state agencies, secured the remaining funds needed (totaling $7M) to immediately begin the trail system work.  Then next year, starting in September, 2014, work will continue on the remaining trails south of the river, and all trails will be finished by December 2014. This program will cover about 21 miles of the 22 mile trail system in the County Park’s portion of the Tijuana River Valley.

About 25 river valley residents, business owners, and equestrians attended the meeting and had many questions:

Will the trails be improved all the way to the beach? The 22 miles of trails previously designated as official County Park Trails end at approximately Four-Corners. Everything west of Four-Corners belongs to other park agencies and there are no plans by their owning-agencies to improve those trails. One mile of this County Parks trail system was completed in 2012–located near Dairy Mart Road. This new work will cover the remaining 21 miles.

Will all the trails receive DG soil and be packed like the loop the County just installed at the northeast side? Packed DG, raised trails, and water diverting will be used where river flooding isn’t likely to destroy them. Therefore, many trails closest to the river will not receive DG or special treatments other than footing improvements and brush clearing work.

The Border Patrol on quads might go even faster on the improved trails, so how do we prevent this? The Border Patrol is aware of this project, and of which trails are designated for them as well as which are for trail hikers, equestrians, and bicyclists. We’ll have to work with each other to maintain the safety of trails.

What happens during the trail work? Some trails will close during the time they have active work occurring. They may be fenced off for several months. This allows the trail work and the rejuvenation of habit to be accomplished while keeping people safely out of those active areas.

Who is doing the work? The County Parks will manage certain sections, and another consulting company will do the other sections. The County Parks will put out an informational flier to describe this process. The California Conservation Corp will do a large part of this work very similarly to the trail system they completed near Dairy Mart Road.

Will the mesa-top trails be included in this program? The mesa-top loop trails are not part of this program; this program targets trails and habitat inside the river valley.

Does this funding include developing the equestrian facility designated at the corner of Saturn Blvd and Monument Road? This program is strictly for trails. County Parks is making slow, but continuous headway on that facility as part of another program. TRVEA believes it is likely another 5 – 10 years from fruition.

What will happen when the County Water Authority does its major project just west of Smugglers Gulch at the old Disney farm? The CWA will restore the County Park Designated Trails that will be removed during heavy site grading. CWA has slipped their project by several years and we do not know its current schedule. It is not part of this program.

Does this program address the trash present throughout the trail system? This program concentrates on the actual trails, signs, viewing blinds, benches, and informational kiosks. Trash is a complex international issue that is being worked on by other commissions and agencies. Cleanup of trash still will depend on community volunteer work with County Parks. When the trail improvements are completed, County Parks Department will have the responsibility of continuous maintenance.

Will this program dredge the river channel to prevent flooding of the trails? (New May 24) No, the County Parks Department does not have the agency to work in the river channels. River maintenance is a City of San Diego responsibility. There is much written on this website about the ongoing effort to have the City clear the river channels.

How can the community ensure these trails are what we want? County Parks will keep TRVEA and other key valley individuals apprised before the final “staking” is completed so that we can advise based on our experience where and how trails should be constructed. All 22 miles of trails are already designated by location, but there are some places where the designated trail can deviate in order to make it a better trail. Ensuring a good trail system will happen by working with County Parks before the heavy work begins. Watch for TRVEA newsletters and this website for information on this project, maps,  and on how you can help out.


Important Water “Events” Information for the Tijuana River Valley

December 6, 2012: TRVEA started a Twitter page to experiment whether we can put out information on water or emergency conditions as they happen.

The Twitter account purpose:

“Group effort to stay abreast of Tijuana River Valley flood events in order to get information out to horse owners, residents, and stakeholders as events unfold.”

Go to:


River Dredging 2012

Update: Nov 15, 2012: Valley residents and equestrians attended the Coastal Commision meeting in Santa Monica and spoke to the commissioners. CC voted to allow a multi year permit for a section of the river to be dredged. We believe this allows a dredging, but not until all the permits have “cleared the pipeline” in early 2013.

Update: Oct 19, 2012: On October 8 equestrians and ranch owners met with City Council to urge them to do what it takes to greatly minimize the chance of flooding this season.  City Council met behind closed doors to vote on a (hearsay) proposal to settle with litigants in exchange of allowing a portion of the river to be dredged. The council outcome is not known. On October 15, we went into open session court for a request by the City Attorney (Contreras) to remove the injunction. The court would not remove it, but asked the City Attorney to work with Briggs to reword the injunction in order to allow the limited dredging. Both the City and Briggs worked together and submitted an exception to the injunction that would allow limited dredging up until Feb 15, 2013. The document is attached below. This allows the City to do the work given that they have complied to all the conditions of permits and agency approvals.  This action by the City and Briggs might be too late for this to occur this season. See the TRVEA October 2012 newsletter for more details and reasons.  Document: TRV Dredging Court Order Oct 2012

September 25, 2012: There is some talk of an agreement between Briggs, et al, and City officials to not sue if the City dredges a small section of the river just east of Hollister Bridge to Effie May Crossing. City officials warned TRVEA that dredging is unlikely this year.

TRVEA mailed our formal concern letter on TRVEA letterhead last week to Councilman Alvarez. We urgently requested Councilman Alvarez to resolve this problem before the rain season begins. Travis Knowles — Chief of Staff for Councilman Alvarez– said he is working on this. He said City staff meets with Coastal Commission on Wednesday to get assurances they will sign off the permits in the event Briggs and the City can agree to a temporary dredging.
Mr. Knowles said he wants to hold off on a community meeting until he knows more (by late Wednesday). He said if either avenue is not progressing, it would help to call the community meeting to put pressure on the different agencies and groups. Dick T is continuing to make calls to politicians and influencers and has done a terrific job of driving this urgent matter.



May 19, 2011: Below is the link to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. (You may have to copy and paste this link to your browser.)  You will find important information about EHV-1  (Equine Herpes Virus) as it pertains to the current outbreak in California.  It appears that they are updating the site daily as more information becomes available.    At this time, there are 10 confirmed cases of Equine Herpes caused by EHV-1 in the state of California.   The positive confirmed cases are located in the following counties: Amador(1), Kern (2), Napa (1), Stanislaus(4), and Placer (2).

CDFA > AHFSS > Animal Health > Equine Herpes Virus


2011 Tijuana River Channel Clearing - Continued (sigh!)

Wendy Fry, February 3, 2011, Dredging settlement reached — Flood-control work still on hold — The city of San Diego has agreed to settle a lawsuit over emergency dredging work in the Tijuana River Valley, an area prone to heavy flooding. However, work to clear out trash- and sediment-filled flood control channels may have to wait. A judge is … to consider approving the settlement agreement … between San Diego and the nonprofit advocacy group San Diegans For Open Government. The San Diego City Attorney’s office agreed to settle the case and pay $90,000 in attorneys’ fees. The city also agreed to conduct an environmental review. … read more …


2010 Tijuana River Continued Channel Clearing

April 23, 2010: The City of San Diego is continuing its activity to receive a multiyear permit that allows it to clear the river bed (and other flood areas of the county) without reapplying each year for a permit to do this work. There are two meetings, April 27, and May 13, where the agencies will attempt to finish this permit. There is opposition. Attached here are the information. PUBLIC INVOLVMENT IS URGENTLY NEEDED. Please contact TRVEA if you can attend either meeting. We need many equestrian voices for this.  Storm Water TRV Plan 2010 e; Storm Water TRV Meeting Agenda April 2010; Storm Water TRV Meeting April 2010; Storm Water TRV Meeting Location April 2010; Storm Water TRV Meeting Location April 2010.


Back Country Horsemen of America

April 6, 2010: TRVEA joined the BCHA as a partner organization in order to aid in promoting regional and national equestrian use of recreational areas. Many of our members have mentioned the positive effects by BCHA in our region, and TRVEA will notify you of new BCHA activity that affects the valley.  (Update: April 2012: TRVEA continues to renew its membership in BCHA in order to maintain strong ties to regional and national trail preservation issues. –jbg)


Rodent Hanta Virus

Update: January 13, 2010: Additional hanta virus found near TRV:

November 10, 2009: City News Service: Be careful while cleaning around your barns and tack sheds. Find methods to keep mice away from your barn areas. This virus is normally announced in our rural areas, so take precautions year round:  “Eight wild mice trapped in San Diego County during routine monitoring tested positive for hantavirus, it was announced Tuesday. One of the mice was found in Escondido, while the others were discovered in the Tijuana River Valley, according to the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health. “As weather cools, rodents will begin to seek shelter indoors,” said Gary Erbeck, director of the DEH. “It is important to keep mice out of houses, garages and sheds to prevent infection. “People contract hantavirus by inhaling the virus, often when they are cleaning up rodent droppings and nesting materials,” he added. “Wet cleaning methods should be used to prevent inhaling the virus.” Hantavirus is carried by wild rodents, primarily deer mice. The virus is found in rodent droppings and urine and can be inhaled by humans when it becomes airborne.”


October 15, 2009 Finally! River Channel Clearing STARTED! The Valley has prevailed on two of three fronts–the City Council approved $4.4M for channel clearing (September 15) AND a judge ruled against special interests who filed a lawsuit to stop the work (October 15). The third thing? We now must beat the first heavy rain. The city crews are working 7 days a week to win this third race for the valley. Special thanks to Mayor Sanders and Council President Hueso who took this fight to DC and back in order to force this to happen this year. See the Trails Current Information for trails affected by this work.


Delays Occurring In River Clearing For This Rain Season

UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 15, 2009: IMPORTANT City Council unamimously approved a declaration of emergency, providing up to $4.4M to clean out the Tijuana River channel and repair some levees. The emergency effort was spearheaded by Council Chairman Hueso who cautions that the federal government still has the last word on whether to allow clearing to occur before the start of this year’s rain. Dick Tynan, Jim Martin, Mario Banuelos, Mary Johnson, Martha Torkington, Dan Winne, Ben McCue, Clay Phillips, and John Gabaldon and others spoke in favor to the council. Audobon Society and Coast Keepers spoke against.

UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 13, 2009: IMPORTANT SD City Council will meet on Tuesday, Septemer 15, at 2PM in public-open chamber to vote whether to declare an area emergency, in order to bypass permit requirements and immediately dredge the pilot channel. See the UT article, Sep 15, 2009, Sunday for further details. Public input is critical at this meeting.

July 8, 2009: City officials say that although the permitting process is going smoothly, it might be until November or December before the master permits to dredge the Tijuana River Pilot Channel are approved. Likely this late approval will delay the dredging until September of 2010. In light of a probable El Nino this 2009 rain season, these late approvals will potentially allow flooding like the December 17, 2008, valley flood that resulted in loss of life and property. Please notify your city representatives they must dredge in September and October. TRVEA is working to accelerate the dredging timeline, and will post notices here.


How Green Was My Valley

TRV: June 2, 2009; City Beat Online Magazine: More attention is coming for a cleaner environment in the TRV. Read this article (by Jean Guerrero) for a good overview of the many topics being addressed throughout agencies and individuals for the valley. How Green Was My Valley.


Sports Complex Design for the Valley

UPDATE: June 4, 2009: See the webpage “Interesting TRVEA” to view the concepts presented by a TRV committee to the San Diego County Parks Department.

UPDATE: April 27, 2009: 2nd Community Meeting: Link here to see design proposals:

SD County Parks & Recreation Department, October 1, 2008:  The SDC Parks & Rec kicked off a project to design a multi-use sports complex to be located on the NE corner of Sunset and Hollister. The 64-acre site has funding for design of a county sports complex in a location officials call “unusually large” for remaining metropolitan land still available for general public use. Representatives from baseball, soccer & football, and equestrian associations, as well as from other developed parks were empaneled to work to a concensus for the design of the park. Supervisor Greg Cox obtained the funds to start the design (construction funding to be sourced at a later time). The design will be completed by summer of 2009.

TRVEA believes this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have an equestrian sports-plex included in the design that will draw equestrians from all over the county and region to meet, train, and compete in dozens of equestrian sports! This could be a world class facility if imaginatively planned. Please attend public hearings to ensure your ideas are implemented. John Gabaldon and Dan Winnie are representing TRVEA in the design phase.

The County will host a public hearing to describe the scope of the project on October 7, Southwest High School, at 7PM. See for project details and updates.


Border Patrol Sets Up Check Points

August 26, 2008, Hollister St and Dairy Mart Road: Border Patrol has set up checkpoints to inspect vehicles leaving the valley. The checkpoints are located north of Sunset and Hollister, and north of the treatment plant on Monument Rd. They are for traffic bound out of the valley. A polite and professional agent at the checkpoint said since construction began, human and drug smugglers had stepped up activity in this section of the border, and that the BP would stay “permanently until told differently” on these roads with their stop and inspect positions.


Mayor and Congressmen Meet In Valley

August 5, 2008, Monument Road: Mayor Sanders, Congressmen Filner and Bilbray met at the request of some valley land owners to discuss code compliance problems experienced by some. Congressman Filner opened the meeting stating that the valley had a historical, cultural, and agricultural way of life that included horses and cattle that “ought to be preserved.” He stated that it was in the pervue of the mayor if necessary to invent a new zoning type to facilitate areas like this one that do not fit into typical zoning types. Congressman Bilbray added that this area is a unique rural buffer between two major urban areas, and that the intention of the agencies covering the area was to preserve equestrian facilities as well as habitat preservation–both were equally essential to this buffer. He said after the flood the area went from agricultural to open space zoning, and unintentionally ”pushed everyone out for open space.” Furthermore, he said such cultural and historical use must be encouraged, not pushed out. Mayor Sanders then took the floor and said politicians made up stupid rules, but the staff must enforce these rules. He said he was aware of the city’s liability issues for flood in the area and the city also must have protections. He told his staff to put a moratorium on code compliance enforcement until mid-November and instructed his staff to find whether there can be better ways of administering regulations more suited to this unique area.  The mayor’s staff will call another meeting during November to present findings.


Beach Trail Closure Fall 2008 and Winter 2009

February 11, 2007, Tijuana Estuary Visitors Center, Public Hearing: The California Department of Parks and Recreation announced a plan to remove 60,000 cubic yards of sediment from Goat Canyon collection basins and place it along a half mile section of the intertidal area just north of the Horse Trail entrance onto the beach. This closes the entire beach for 9-weeks intermittently from October 15, 2008 to February 15, 2009. Large trucks will operate during daytime low tides driving onto the beach via Monument Rd. to Border Field State Park, and via Horse Trail road.

Reserve Manager Clay Phillips will conduct a beach users meeting to agree on ways to ease the closure on the public. Phillips points out this is an experiment by the state to determine whether this type of sand can be re-used on beaches and a scientific study will occur throughout the period. If successful, park managers gain a relatively inexpensive method to clear out sediment basins of sorted “precleaned” storm runoff to protect against sediment choking of sensitive tidal marsh areas such as the one west of Goat Canyon. In the past, this 55% sand and 45% other material mixture was hauled to Lakeside at a cost of $1.1M. It is also sold to commercial interests.

The public may comment on the impacts of this project before February 29. See for information on the “Tijuana Estuary Sediment Fate and Transport Study”.  TRVEA will represent its members by submitting a comment letter and in the users meetings seeking ways to keep some beach trails open during the period. Contact TRVEA if you want to work with the commenting and planning.  Letter to Agency – Sediment Transport


Hollister Wetlands - Followup Meeting

December, 2007: The SD County Water Authority will present two alternative wetlands as choices to their original design. The public meeting is at Southwest High School, Monday, December 3. 630-7PM Open House; 7 – 8PM Presentation and Discussion. This is a follow-up meeting to the May 29th Hollister Wetlands meeting reported below.

UPDATE: August 27, 2008: CWA held a public hearing at the Nestor Elementary School. Few citizens attended while the entire County Water Board presided. A local land owner requested the berm be made 12′ tall instead of 8′ tall in order to protect land during heavy rainfall years. TRVEA spoke about concerns over equestrian safety during construction. The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is proceeding ahead for final approval. Written comments must be submitted by September 8. More information is given at their website listed above.


Horse Evacuation: Speed, Compassion, and Guts.

Saturday, October 27, 2007: The Tijuana River Valley’s fast and compassionate response is astounding. The first responders were trailer crews who risked their safety, their expensive equipment, and paid for their own gas—just to drive into harm’s way, literally through fire at times. They drove to evacuate horses and animals whose owners they might never even know. By Sunday afternoon, trailer after trailer left the valley headed into this maelstrom, and their crews worked days and nights until no more rescue could be identified.

Then our private ranch owners sheltered evacuated animals, taking in all who came, also taking all the risks of stabling and caring for expensive and potentially dangerous animals—and most of these valley ranchers provided shelter, food, and professional management from their own funds.

Finally, there are the volunteers who manned phones to direct rescues and interact with networks of agencies (and with other volunteers from all over the region and nation); checked on the ranches and animals; searched for, found, and distributed food and aid to people and animals; and located lost animals. And we can’t forget the many, many people who volunteered help and had to (frustratingly) wait for the call to mobilize, but never received it.

All these factors operated intensively around the clock from Sunday through Thursday, and are, thankfully, operating only at a low intensity today. THANK YOU PEOPLE of the TIJUANA RIVER VALLEY!

At the peak, we received evacuation counts of just over 340 horses and livestock sheltered in the valley’s ranches, and at least another 60 horses at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station. The Border Patrol also evacuated horses and livestock, including Winetka Ranch; and where some animals had to be left behind, Border Patrol agents checked, fed and watered animals in some remote and dangerous areas. THANK YOU BORDER PATROL!


Horse Evacuation: Wildfire October 20 – 24, 2007

TRV ranches and the Border Patrol equestrian center at Imperial Beach are accepting evacuated horses. Special horse needs can be accomodated such as stallions can be accepted at SunCoast Thoroughbred Farms. TRVEA special coordinators Gale Moriarity and John Gabaldon can assist in placing horses. The plan is first to place horses at the local valley ranches. If they reach capacity, the Border Patrol equestrian center will then be used. Contact John Gabaldon at (6 1 9 – 9 2 0 -1 2 8 2) cell at any hour for locations, directions, and help. We have a number of volunteers who will help care for the animals.


MAU-BFSP TO Become Part of State Parks

California State Parks Volunteer Patch 4September, 2007: California State Parks will assume the organizing role for the Border Field State Park Mounted Assitance Unit (MAU), and TRVEA will no longer provide the MAU sponsorship. To become part of MAU, contact Sarah Emmerson, Volunteer Coordinator, Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, 619-575-3613.


Beach Closure
June 11, 2007: During the nesting season, chicks leave their nests in the dunes and run back and forth to the water. USFWS is studying the effects of hiker, rider, and chick traffic in order to determine whether there is significant decrease for the survivability of the endangered birds. If so, the Reserve Manager might close down sections of the beach during the seven months of breeding season. Clay Phillip, Reserve Manager, stresses this will not occur until after a thorough investigation. Although not a rider induced problem, continue to ride only on the edge of or in the wet sand from March through September. TRVEA will update you as this issue progresses.


Hollister Wetland Plan
May 29, 2007: The SD County Water Authority presented a concept drawing of the wetland plan to SD City planners and TRVEA. Double click here to view the plan TJRV Hollister Wetlands Concept . The concept plan is intended to create discussion–the details are not settled. If you are interested in modifying the design or have questions, contact John at john . trvea AT gmail . com.  UPDATE: June 15, 2007, Monument Rd County Ranger Station: A meeting between TRV landowners, County Water Authority, and other agencies was held to present the project and create discussion. The landowners did not agree with the CWA’s assessment on risk of flood after project completion. The owners focused much of the discussion on the problems of Smugglers Channel and the undredged pilot channel. The landowners believed that this project was designed outside of the larger and dominating influences of those two channels. A follow-up discussion has not been set. Hollister Wetlands Public Meeting Minutes June 15 2007


West Nile & Mosquito ControlRevised July, 2008: West Nile in San Diego County, One Horse Euthanized. Read

April 18, 2007: Aerial spraying covering 40 acres in the TRV near Hollister. April 18, May 16, June 13, July 11, August tbd, Sep 5, Oct tbd. Spraying occurs by helicopter on Wednesdays. See for more information on WNV and the equestrian community.


TRNERR Burdensome Regulations on TRV Business Owners

March 1, 2007 The USFWS, County of San Diego Parks & Recreation, and California State Parks agencies operating within TRNERR are considering whether to require commercial busisness owners in the TRV to apply for special permits in order for their customers to use public lands. This will hold accountable the business owner for any damages to the public lands where their equestrian customers ride. TRVEA opposes this regulation that unfairly targets equestrian businesses and TRVEA is working to prevent this action.


Wetlands to be Created Near Hollister Bridge

March 2, 2007 The SD County Water Authority is moving rapidly to convert 33 acres of agricultural land to wetlands. The wetlands will be a large water pond, marsh, and lateral flood relief area located immediately southwest of the Hollister St bridge; the acreage consists of the land just north and west of Rancho Senora Fina (Andulsian Ranch that used to be Joni’s) and on both sides of Smugglers flood channel. It will terminate just east of the old Amsod and Disney property. Some berms will be removed in the site grading. Implementation goal is fall of 2008, TRVEA is working to get on the planning side before the public reviews begin in order to ensure trails and businesses are not affected.


River Dredging Cannot Happen Until September 2007

March 1, 2007 The City of San Diego has been unable to secure emergency permits to dredge the river pilot channel. The reason is due to many bureaucratic snafus and now the March to September nesting season has arrived and prevents heavy equipment from operating in the pilot channel. The best that can happen now is we have a light rain season and the permits get granted during this nesting season for work to begin in September 2007.


TRV Trail Plan Approved by County Board of Supervisors

December 13, 2006: The 21.3 mile trail plan proposed by the County Parks & Recreation for the Tijuana River Valley was approved at the Supervisor’s meeting today. TRVEA will post information on the construction start as it becomes available.This distance of trails combined with an additional 3-miles at the Estuarine Research Reserve, 8-miles of Border Patrol Roads temporarily open, and 2-miles in the state park total over 34 miles to ride in the valley.

River Channel Dredging for Fall and Winter of 2006

At an October 23 meeting with San Diego City Engineering, it was reported that the Army Corp of Engineers denied emergency dredging of the Tijuana River channel west of Hollister Ave. They cite that this is not considered an emergency and denied emergency funding and priority. The City of San Diego is appealing the decision by asking if the clear probability for another season of rain in the TRV is not an emergency, then what consitutes one? The appeal is expected to take about a month. City Engineers said that if the funding and permits do not occur well before the first heavy rainfall in the Fall of 2006, there is no chance the river channel will be cleared this season. As equestrians in the valley, we must plan what to do with our horses should a heavy rainfall season cause flooding.


September 9, 2006: Valley Tack Sale Swap Meet TRVEA is sponsoring a HUGE Tack Sale on Saturday, Sept 9, 2006 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm at Wigginton Ranch, 2191 Hollister Street, SD 92154 (across from Community Gardens in the Tijuana River Valley.)  Come to buy or sell! Mary Christensen, TRVEA Public Relations Coordinator (858) 761-1784 email

*************************                          August 2006: TRAILS MAP REVISED.

The 2006 version of the Trails Map for the TRV is open for comment until September 15, 4:00 PM. Go to the county web site, or go to the county ranger station on Monument road to review this new DRAFT Environmental Impact Report (EIR). . There have been several small but important oversights that have been brought to the county’s attention already.