Wandering, Wondering, Conserving

Preserving the San Diego River

Max Kilman

“When protected, rivers serve as visible symbols of the care we takes as temporary inhabitants and full-time stewards as a living, profoundly beautiful heritage of nature.”

John Echeverria, previous Executive Director of the Georgetown Environmental Law and policy institute

My Interest

San Diego River Park Foundation.” Tree Huggers International

“San Diego River Trail – Hazard Center/Mission Valley.” Hiking San Diego County

Whether wandering along the river banks with my family when I was three or running with my brother along the river trails last summer, the San Diego River has been a part of my childhood.  These days, during my commute to school, I often consider the San Diego ecosystem, noting the changes.  So many others value the natural world just like I do, and yet, action must be taken to preserve this beauty.  While thinking about this world,  I composed a short piano piece set to a couplet from a poem by William Wordsworth called “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.”  The inspiration to write this poem arrived to Wordsworth as he walked with his sister Dorothy around Ullswater Bay and experienced the beauty of the natural world, specifically a “long belt” of daffodils. I hope that my minor composition may leave you thinking about how you value the natural world near your home.

A Brief and Turbulent History of the San Diego River

Switzer, Shannon. “The San Diego River Park Foundation.”

“Rivers are places that renew our spirit, connect us with our past, and link us directly with the flow and rhythm of the natural world.”

Ted Turner, founder of TBS and Cnn, ardent environmentalist
The San Diego River Park Foundation. San Diego River Park Foundation.

For more than 8,000 years, the San Diego River has served the San Diego region. Native Americans, European settlers, and the people of San Diego, alike, have shared this natural resource. In fact, the San Diego River, known as “California’s First River,” hosted the first European settlement on the west coast in 1769. However, today, due to neglect and ignorance, the River is now considered one of America’s most polluted waterways by the Environmental Protection Agency. Sources of pollution include leaky pipes, which allow sewage to seep into tributaries. In addition, lawn-care products like Miracle-Gro end up in the watershed after rains, resulting in high levels of nitrogen and phosphate, feeding algae. Likewise, the River’s seasonal conditions, worsened by climate change, produce stagnant river regions, forming low-oxygen pockets in water, which allow for the growth of harmful anaerobic bacteria. Not only are contaminants detrimental to the River, they outflow into the Pacific Ocean.


Price, Michael. “Stewards of the San Diego River.”

The San Diego River Park Foundation. San Diego River Park Foundation.

The San Diego River Park Foundation have dedicated resources to work towards a trash-free River and the creation of a 52-mile river-long park and trail to benefit the community and native wildlife from the headwaters in the Cuyamaca Mountains to outflow at the Pacific Ocean. The Foundation aims to connect the community through engaging volunteer programs, education, and outreach; to create a River Park and trail through land acquisitions and projects; and to conserve the natural resources through research in collaboration with San Diego State University, river clean-ups, and other resource protection and management activities.

What you can do

The San Diego River Park Foundation.”

“You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.”

Winston Churchill

I challenge you to consider in what ways you value the environment surrounding your home. How can you be a steward, preserving this heritage of the natural world? If you need a place to start, try getting involved with an environmental organization in your community whether that be a beach cleanup or a community garden. Whatever you do, don’t leave it up to others; your inaction impacts your entire community. Above all, don’t forget to take a second each day to just enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature.

Made with Padlet


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  1. April 30, 2019 by Christopher Ko

    Hi Maxwell, great project. I think the idea of putting the piano piece in there is really something unique to your project and compliments the project nicely. Its interesting in finding an interest to a problem close to you and I for one will be looking out for the trash that I have. Great job.

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