RiverWatch December 2017!

End of another great year thanks to you!

Featured Species:


Heteromeles arbutifolia

by Tom Davis

Christmas Berry (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is a shrub or tree native to California. Its other common names are Toyon, and Hollywood Berry. It is common in the foothills, often in association with scrub oak.

It has small, inconspicuous white flowers. If pollinated, small, berry-like fruits form. The fruits start out green, and contain a toxic substance called cyanogenic glucoside, which repels birds. As they ripen, the toxin is absorbed into the seed. When fully ripe, they are safe for consumption.

Mocking birds, robins, and cedar waxwings feast on them. Native Americans also ate them. They removed the bitter taste by roasting them over a fire, or boiling them in a basket.

Toyon's are able to rapidly regrow after a fire. New growth sprouts vigorously from dormant buds on the root crown. They do, however, require more water after a fire to become re-established.

Seedlings are eaten by many browsing animals, so the long-term survival is low. The next time you are out on a hike in the foothills, keep an eye out and see if you can identify a Christmas Berry.



Thank you for helping us raise $18,250 in 24 hours!

On behalf of everyone here at the Lakeside's River Park Conservancy, THANK YOU for your support this year.

We had an extremely successful #GivingTuesday, thanks to you! Last year we raised $12,025 and this year we raised $18,250! That is a substantial increase and it is because of donors like you!

We want to especially thank the Lila Park Family for the gift-match and to the River Park's Board of Directors who contributed additional funding to it. We had 100% Board of Director participation and we know that inspired others to give!

We also want to thank Atlas Pumping Services, Inc. for their sponsorship and the Gates Foundation for their Facebook match.

It is because of you Lakeside's River Park Conservancy can continue our work preserve the San Diego River and build the first-ever San Diego River Science Field Station for future generations to experience the magic of nature.

If you didn't have a chance to donate, you still can! Maker your year-end, tax deductible donation by December 31st and know you will be helping to build the future!

Donate now!


Volunteer Appreciation

Meet the Wakelands!

Meet the Wakelands!

They will be a frequent presence around the River Park is noticed and they are our new work camper family!

Mom, Ashely is a graphic artist and will be doing all of our graphic art as part of her volunteerism. She works for Verizon as a graphic artist and is going to school working on her Master's degree.

Father, Keith, is a general handyman, and in the Navy as a survival specialist. You Children, Indigo and Fenton, will add to the general level of cuteness here at the River Park.

You might see them around on the golf cart maintaining the trail and doing security checks. We welcome them to our volunteer family.

Learn How You Can Volunteer Here


Volunteers honored at our annual

Volunteer Appreciation Party

On Saturday, December 9th, 2017, 80 volunteers and loved ones gathered to celebrate one another and our collective mission to preserving the San Diego River at our 14th annual Volunteer Appreciation Party Breakfast.

The party was held at the Boll Weevil in Lakeside and was sponsored by The Burnett Family Charitable Foundation, Inc. The festivities featured an all-you can-eat buffet breakfast and fellowship amongst the volunteers.

Each and every volunteer is a valued contributor to the River Park and our mission. We couldn’t achieve what we do without their hard work, dedication, and talent. We spotlight those who regularly go above and beyond the call of duty and present them with a special award.

Our highest award, the Joan Burnett Memorial Inspirational Award, went to Jim Renzi

Jim came into the River Park’s life during a time of uncertainty about the Bostonian House. Our volunteer architect, Bill Ferreira, had just passed away and we needed someone to fill his very big shoes. To the rescue, in rode Jim! Jim now serves as both the architect and field-hand, working to restore and re-use the old Bostonian House. His volunteer work will have a lasting impact on Lakeside and the entire region. He has developed building plans, attending countless meetings, worked on permits and approvals. He has developed budgets, worked with tradesmen, and recruited other skilled volunteers to get the job done.

Other winners were:

Community Partner Volunteer Award Winner - Sara Tobias from the Kiwanis Club of San Diego

Community Safety and Environmental Stewardship Community Partners Award Winner - Aaron Brooke

Mounted Monitor Award - Jackie White

Prettiest Work Award - Karen Barr

New Volunteer Award - Michael Farrell

Gate Keeper Award (Security Awareness) - Steve Griffin

Ambassador/Outreach Volunteer - Charlotte Howatt

MVP Award - Caprice Hubbard-Sander

Safety & Tech Support - Terry Thompson

Thank you to all who attended! We are looking forward to the year to come and all of the wonderful things that will be accomplished with the help of our volunteers!


Sponsor Spotlight:

Hans and Margaret Doe Charitable Trust

The River Park is happy to report we received a grant from the Hans and Margaret Doe Charitable Trust to allow us to purchase a very high tech drone.

The River Park works hard to be a leader in watershed management, restoration, and education. This drone, with its ability to fly quickly, drop GPS points on a map and with an infrared camera will allow us to spot infestations of invasive species and track the progress of the San Diego River restoration. We will be able to show video of our good work to the community, to government officials and agencies, other funders and to students. It will also help us spot illegal lodgers living in the riverbed.

Currently the River Park manages nearly 9 miles of river and some of this area is hard to access. That is a lot of miles to cover on foot on a regular basis even for our best volunteers. A drone will allow us to zoom up and down the creeks looking for invasive plant species like Arundo donax. Field Supervisor Robert Doty will be the drone master, a sci-fi buff, and gamer, he is excited to put be part of this new frontier in river restoration. In the coming year look for drone footage along the river in our newsletter.

A big thank you, Hans and Margaret Doe Charitable Trust!


Volunteers in Action!

Girl Scout STEM

On Saturday, November 18th, volunteers Mona Anderson and Charlotte Howatt, manned a booth on behalf of the River Park at a Girl Scout STEM event.

Our booth’s theme centered around being on the trail, day and night.

For the day portion, the concept was to show the girls that although they may not see actual wildlife while on the trail, if they pay attention, they will see the signs of animals nearby. Charlotte brought her assortment of nests, shed snakeskin, mummified lizards, scat photos and bird feathers to show the girls examples of what they may see along the trail. The girls had an opportunity to not only see the items up close but were able to be hands-on and touch them as well.

For the night portion, Mona brought supplies for the girls to create their own constellation viewers using items frequently disposed of – empty Pringles canisters and paper. When on a night hike, in addition to observations made along the ground, there are some really amazing things to be seen in the heavens above, as well.

We want to encourage the girls to get out and be active and explore and observe the world around them, from every angle. Children are our future and we need to foster in them a love and appreciation for nature all around. By getting them to stop and smell the (wild) roses, we hope to instill in them a passion for the preservation of the San Diego River and surrounding habitats tomorrow.


Leaving a Charitable Legacy

Consider making a bequest to Lakeside’s River Park Conservancy or donate appreciated stock.

Many people want to leave a charitable bequest that exemplifies their values and leaves a lasting remembrance of their involvement in the lives of others.

Bequests, charitable trusts and appreciated stock donations are a perfect way to give and leave a lasting legacy.

A number of River Park supports have chosen this uniquely personal way to make a difference. If you would like to learn more about this, please contact Cindy Collins or Robin Rierdan.


Please update your address book...we have new emails!

Robin Rierdan, Executive Director Robin@lakesideriverpark.org

Cindy Collins, Membership & Volunteer Manager Cindy@lakesideriverpark.org

Alisha Curtin, Outreach, Volunteer & Safety Coordinator Alisha@lakesideriverpark.org

Robert Doty, Field Superintendent Robert@lakesideriverpark.org

Thea Hanner, Events & Arundo Coordinator Events@lakesideriverpark.org

Karen Anderson, Staff Accountant accounting@lakesideriverpark.org

For general information regarding the River Park and trails please direct all inquiries to:


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