Forester Creek, one of the waterways of concern, runs adjacent to Parkway Plaza in El Cajon.
Forester Creek, one of the waterways of concern, runs adjacent to Parkway Plaza in El Cajon. Photo by Chris Stone

 The 18th annual San Diego River Days kicks off Saturday with nine days of free events and interactive activities for all ages to learn about the city’s namesake river’s history and help preserve it for future generations.

San Diego River Days, sponsored by San Diego’s Think Blue program, culminates with an in-person cleanup event on Friday to remove tons of trash and debris from the riverbed. Several events will be held virtually for those who can’t attend in person.

“The San Diego River is one of our most precious natural resources and we must continue to give it the care and attention it deserves,” said Kris McFadden, the city’s transportation and stormwater department director. “We’ve taken significant steps in recent years to protect the water quality and environmental health of the watershed under San Diego’s control.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, and events like this help draw attention, build partnerships and educate everyone about how important it is to preserve this river,” McFadden said.

The San Diego River Park Foundation has organized San Diego River Days for nearly two decades with several partner organizations. Now the weeklong event includes more than 15 interactive activities including hikes, open houses, volunteer projects, virtual workshops and self-guided tours. Activities are located along the entire 52-mile river, from Ocean Beach to Julian and everywhere in between.

“This past year has highlighted the need for safe, high-quality open spaces in our neighborhoods that are accessible to all,” said Sarah Hutmacher, chief associate director of the San Diego River Park Foundation. “San Diego River Days is all about stewardship and exploration of our region’s most important river, and we couldn’t be prouder of our partnership with the City of San Diego as we work together to preserve this treasure for future generations.”

The city has taken several actions to protect and enhance water quality by removing and preventing pollutants such as trash and bacteria from entering waterways, and to restore the San Diego River, including twice weekly cleanups in the river removing more than 98 tons of trash and debris this fiscal year, partnering with the SDRPF to reduce trash from homeless encampments, enhanced street sweeping and catch basin cleaning and installation of full trash capture devices.

The events begin with a Point Loma Native Plant Garden open house at 9 a.m. Saturday. A full list of events can be found at https://sdriverdays.org/activities/.

–City News Service

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