Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve Marine Debris Cleanup and Reduction Program

Volunteers remove debris and invasive species from a riparian area of the Tijuana River Valley.

The Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association teamed up with the NOAA Marine Debris Program to capture, remove, and prevent future accumulations of trash and marine debris within the Tijuana River Valley at the border of the United States and Mexico.

Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant

Region: California

Project Dates: August 2016 - July 2019

Who is involved?
With funding from a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association (SWIA) worked with staff from the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR) and California State Parks on prevention and removal of debris from the Tijuana River Valley. The project team also partnered with WildCoast to coordinate volunteer cleanups over the length of the project.

What is the project and why is it important?
Trash, plastics, and larger debris that wash downstream from Mexico threaten and degrade the Tijuana River Valley’s valuable ecological, cultural, recreational, and economic resources. During storm events, large amounts of debris settle in the Goat Canyon sediment basin, some of which accumulates behind large trash booms that were upgraded for greater strength and stability under a previous grant from the NOAA Marine Debris Program. Removal of accumulated waste is an important aspect of mitigating debris impacts, but source reduction is the most effective and efficient approach.

This project builds off the accomplishments and lessons learned from a 2014 NOAA Community-Based Marine Debris Removal Grant. Project partners are continuing to manage marine debris that enters the Tijuana River Valley through the existing trash capture infrastructure located in the Goat Canyon Sediment Basin, and manage community-based cleanup efforts during the 2016 and 2017 Tijuana River Action Month (TRAM). This project has a greater focus on reducing the amount of debris that enters the Tijuana River NERR through bi-directional education and outreach efforts. Project staff are facilitating information sharing between U.S. and Mexican waste management stakeholders including government, private sector, NGOs, and the Tijuana River Valley Recovery Team.