In recent years, local elected leaders have acknowledged the important role that the Chollas Creek watershed has in our communities. Chollas Creek and its tributaries originate as far east as Lemon Grove and La Mesa, before largely running through Mid-City and Southeast San Diego and meeting San Diego Bay near the U.S. Naval Base San Diego.

With the Chollas Creek Regional Park now in the works, it’s important to recognize the advocacy of local nonprofit organization Groundwork San Diego – Chollas Creek in making the idea a reality.

Grassroots Advocacy

Groundwork San Diego – Chollas Creek’s impact cannot be overstated. In 2007, Groundwork San Diego was invited by the City of San Diego to lead the Chollas Creek Enhancement Program, a masterplan for restoring the city’s most neglected waterway, which runs through some of the area’s most ethnically diverse and lowest­-income communities.

Chollas Creek, once pristine Kumeyaay land and later a treasured recreational resource to San Diego’s earliest African American community, has experienced under­investment, redlining and years of neglect. Groundwork San Diego – Chollas Creek works at the intersection of social, environmental and climate justice, and has generated more than $12 million in public and private investments in Chollas Creek and its surrounding communities.

Restoration and Stewardship

Groundwork San Diego

Groundwork San Diego – Chollas Creek is making a difference in the ongoing restoration of the long-neglected Chollas Creek watershed while connecting underserved youth and families in Southeastern San Diego to initiatives focused on environmental stewardship.

A $35,000 grant from San Diego Foundation through the Opening the Outdoors initiative is playing a key role in funding a trio of Groundwork San Diego initiatives. Among them:

  • The Groundwork Lincoln High School Green Team consisting of 14 students meets six times each month in a year-long internship program focused on advocating for environmental justice. Among the grant-funded projects is partnership with San Diego Coastkeeper to monitor water quality in Chollas Creek. Another project, in partnership with the City of San Diego Stormwater Department, involves placing 220-gallon rain barrels on several residential properties to capture water that would normally run into storm drains, carrying pollutants through the Chollas Creek watershed before dumping them into San Diego Bay. In addition, the Green Team installed drought-tolerant landscaping at the properties to help reduce runoff and replenish underground water sites.
  • A Neighborhood Nearby Nature Advocacy Team comprising more than three dozen families that are meeting several times each month at Groundwork San Diego’s 4-acre EarthLab learning center. The multi-generational family groups are not only discovering the ecological significance of neighborhood canyons and green spaces, but they’re also partnering with the San Diego Botanic Garden and Project Budburst to design and create a native plant/pollinator garden as part of ‘citizen science initiative.’ In addition, the Advocacy Team is assessing how neighborhood canyonlands can become more walkable without disturbing the natural habitat.
  • Students in the Groundwork Millennial Tech Middle School After-School Program, after reviewing various greenspace needs, identified Gompers Park as an environmental justice project and recommended park improvements to San Diego Parks and Recreation staff. Among the recommendations that received the green light is the installation of a dog park at the site, which residents say will bring more people to the greenspace.

Thankful for Support

“Groundwork San Diego – Chollas Creek remains committed to providing high-quality, educational opportunities to the Southeastern San Diego, including City Heights, Oak Park, Encanto, Chollas View, Mount Hope, Mountain View, Barrio Logan, and Southcrest,” said Groundwork San Diego – Chollas  Creek Executive Director Leslie Reynolds. “We are thankful for San Diego Foundation’s financial support of our mission.”

The SDF Opening the Outdoors initiative has supported more than 90 local nonprofits benefitting more than 50,000 youth and families through equitable access to parks, beaches, and green spaces.

Learn more about the Opening the Outdoors program and how it’s helping San Diegans discover the wonders of the natural world and enjoy the benefits of outdoor activity.