Over 600 expected at ‘Love Your Wetlands Day’

Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve in Mission Bay will be open to public for a day of activities


After just having suckled wild sunflowers lining the wetlands, a hummingbird sits on the wired fence enclosing the Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve in Mission Bay, San Diego. The marsh will be open to guests and volunteers for “Love Your Wetlands Day” on Feb. 5. Photo by Philip Salata/City Times Media

Philip Salata, Multimedia Journalist

The 17th annual “Love Your Wetlands Day,” hosted by the UC San Diego Natural Reserve System in collaboration with the San Diego Audubon Society, will be held at the Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve on Feb. 5.

San Diego City College will be represented by Lisa Chaddock, who is both the advisor of City’s Audubon Club and the Vice President of the San Diego Audubon Society.

Offices along the marsh
The offices of the UC San Diego Natural Reserve System overlook the wetlands. The Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve is owned by the University of California. Photo by Philip Salata/City Times Media

The event is a rare opportunity for the public to set foot in the marsh, which is normally off limits as it is a sensitive habitat and a key breeding ground for the endangered Ridgway’s Rail.

A rusty-gray footlong bird, the Ridgway’s Rail spends most of its time concealed in dense grasses such as cordgrass, which used to grow in abundance at the marsh. 

But according to Executive Director of the UCSD NRS Heather Henter, 80-90% of California’s salt marsh system has been eradicated. 

Now, even at Kendall-Frost, the cordgrass is scant. 

Researchers and volunteers aid the breeding process, which takes place between February and September, by building elevated platforms on which the birds can nest.

At high tide the water comes just up to the nests, protecting the birds from domestic and feral predators that are abundant due to nearby development.

Staff member of the San Diego Audubon Society Andrew Meyer praised recent developments in the City of San Diego’s De Anza Cove Amendment to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan. The addendum promises to add an additional 200 acres of wetlands to the area.

“We’re pushing them to embrace restoration,” Meyer said.

Still, Meyer said, it’s not enough. 

Volunteers prepare for an event in the marsh.
Executive Director of the UCSD NRS Heather Henter leads volunteers in preparations for the event. Photo by Philip Salata/City Times Media

Interest in the wetlands seems to be high. Henter said the event already has more reservations than anticipated.

The 600 allotted spots on Eventbrite are already reserved and many more are expected to show up.

Visitors will be able to partake in guided tours of the marsh, help rebuild nesting platforms, learn about water quality testing accompanied by Mission Bay High School students, and join expert birders at the overlook.

Kumeyaay tule boats on the marsh.
Guests will be able to learn about and work on traditional Kumeyaay tule boats at the event. Photo by Philip Salata/City Times Media

Guests will also be able to learn about and repair traditional Kumeyaay tule boats and experiment with an augmented reality app that provides a 360-degree immersive interaction with Kumeyaay language and culture.  

At Crown Point, just west of the marsh, Aqua Adventures will be conducting kayak excursions during which guests can also collect trash in the surrounding area.

A number of speakers will attend the event, including Mayor Todd Gloria as well as professor Stanley Rodriguez of the Kumeyaay Santa Ysabel Band of the Iipay Nation.

The event will be held Feb. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For details, click here.