People often associate our U.S.-Mexico border with long waits to cross, water pollution, a triple border fence and the U.S. Border Patrol. Yet, there is a beautiful, natural gem nestled within our most southwestern corner of the county: Border Field State Park.

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A Hidden Gem

Subject to frequent flooding and an ongoing influx of trash, sediment and other pollutants carried across the border by the Tijuana River, Border Field State Park has been called “our ugliest state park”.

Yet, the sheer wildness of the place and its location on the border is part of its allure.

The bluff on Monument Mesa offers stunning vistas of our coastline, estuaries, bays and nearby islands. What’s more, the park is adjacent to a larger protected area, the 2,500-acre Tijuana National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is world renowned as “A Wetland of International Importance” .

With all this in mind, California State Parks has been working to change Border Field State Park’s image.

It started with an effort to engage the public, to find out what area residents thought would make the park more inviting, starting with the park entrance. Park staff took an unusual approach to soliciting public feedback, by asking how the trash that flows across the border could be repurposed for the construction of a border entryway, in the form of signs, benches and other amenities.

From Trash to Treasure

With a seed grant of $22,000 from The San Diego Foundation, California State Parks teamed up with 4Walls International and over 400 local volunteers to recycle plastic bottles, Styrofoam and other trash by turning it into “eco-bricks”, with stunning results:

Border Field State Park

Likewise, with additional support from The San Diego Foundation, A Reason to Survive engaged local high school students to beautify another element of the park – a chain link fence next to the entrance:

Border Field State Parkborderfield2

What’s Next for Border State Park?

California State Parks is now moving into the next phase of its efforts to beautify and enhance public access to the park.

Current plans include an interpretive welcome center, again built with repurposed trash collected from the Tijuana River Valley, along with interpretive signage and a native plant nursery. The San Diego Foundation is contributing $62,000 toward these efforts.

Efforts to open up and enhance Border Field State Park are part of a broader effort by California State Parks to bring out the best in our parks across the state through the Parks Forward Initiative, so that all Californians can enjoy them now and into the future.

To learn more about how you can support initiatives around our region to open the outdoors and create more vibrant public spaces, check out The San Diego Foundation Fund for the Future.

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