By: Cara Stafford, Guest Blogger and Stewardship Coordinator at Tijuana River NERR
From September 12th through October 17th, a total of 3,898 volunteers spent their Saturday mornings removing 85,609 pounds of debris and 284 tires from canyons, creek beds, and beaches in the western portion of the Tijuana River Watershed. This effort was part of the sixth annual Tijuana River Action Month (TRAM), a series of volunteer-driven education and stewardship events held each fall. The TRAM aims to mobilize community volunteers and groups on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border to become stewards of the Tijuana River Watershed, as well as to recognize key efforts and investments by public and private agencies, businesses, non-profits and community groups to protect and restore the Tijuana River. This initiative is organized by the Tijuana River Action Network.
Last year, the Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association (SWIA), in association with the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (Tijuana River NERR), was awarded funding through the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s (MDP) Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant competition to support binational cleanups through an expansion of Tijuana River Action Month, as well as further outreach and restoration. These efforts aim to capture and remove land-based debris from canyons and riparian habitats (along the banks of the river) within the Tijuana River Watershed before it enters the sensitive habitats of the Tijuana Estuary and Pacific Ocean. It also aims to prevent future debris inundations by implementing improved debris capture infrastructure, performing outreach with schools in Tijuana, and engaging Mexican NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and waste industry companies in Tijuana River Action Month cleanups.
For more on cleanup efforts in the Tijuana River NERR, check out the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s website.