What We Do

Southern Border Fuels Project - In 2019, the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex initiated a multiple year program to mechanically and chemically control a range of non-native invasive plants along the tributaries of the Tijuana River within the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and along the Sweetwater River on the San Diego NWR. Funding for the project has been provided through an Interagency Agreement between the Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Mosquito Management - Mosquito monitoring and control occurs annually on the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge as a coordinated effort between refuge staff and San Diego County Vector Control.

Habitat Restoration - Habitat restoration is an ongoing and ever-evolving endeavor at this wildlife refuge. In partnership with other federal and state agencies, along with cutting edge research, managers can make the best informed decisions on which techniques of restoration will have a lasting positive impact on the ecosystem as a whole.

Research and Surveys - Research, surveys, and scientific collecting by non-FWS personnel or authorized agents have occurred on the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge for many years. The information provided by these activities contributes to our understanding the biological and other natural processes occurring on the refuge.

Tijuana Estuary Tidal Restoration Program II, Phase I- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, California Department of Parks and Recreation’s (CA State Parks) Border Field State Park, Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, California State Coastal Conservancy, California Wildlife Conservation Board, and Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association propose to restore 80 to 85 acres of coastal wetlands in the southern arm of the Tijuana Estuary. This restoration effort supports ongoing restoration planning for the Tijuana Estuary, as presented in the Tijuana Estuary – Friendship Marsh Restoration Feasibility Study prepared in 2008.

The need for coastal wetland restoration in this area is great. The Tijuana Estuary has been degraded by decades of uncontrolled discharges of raw sewage, sediment, and trash. The proposed project will restore a portion of the Tijuana Estuary providing coastal resources essential for listed species, migratory birds, fish, and other wildlife. Restoration will also increase the estuary’s tidal prism to improve water quality and keep the river mouth open to the ocean.

Management and Conservation

The Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve resource protection, management and restoration programs provide coordinated, proactive responses to the unique opportunities and challenges to habitat protection the Reserve faces.

Many of the protection, management, and restoration challenges, goals, and tasks emphasize the southern end of the Reserve where past degradation and current threats are greatest. However, significant restoration efforts, primarily for upland habitats, will continue to be implemented in the northern end of the Reserve as well. The proposed protection, management, and restoration actions will substantially improve the quality of the resources and the experience of Reserve visitors. 

The Plan of Action within the TRNERR Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) confirms the overall 5-year vision statement and goals for the 2010-2015 Plan. This plan will support preservation, protection, enhancement and restoration of the integrity of the Reserve’s ecosystems through informed action, in order to maintain biodiversity and migratory bird resources, and aid in the recovery of threatened and endangered species.

The TRNERR Resource Protection, Management, and Restoration program will be periodically reviewed and revised in response to changing watershed conditions and as new habitat management opportunities emerge.

The main Resource Management priorities established in the CMP are:

  • Establishment of the Reserve as a mitigation site
  • Commitment to sediment and trash management
  • Implementation of the Tijuana Estuary Tidal Restoration Program (TETRP)
  • Control of invasive plant species such as chrysanthemum and ice plant
  • Monitoring of threatened and endangered species 
  • Receiving site such as the light-footed Ridgway's rail

Refuge Planning 

National Wildlife Refuge planning sets the broad vision for refuge management and the goals, objectives, strategies, and actions required to achieve it. Planning ensures that each refuge meets its individual purposes, contributes to the Refuge System’s mission and priorities, is consistent with other applicable laws and policies, and enhances conservation benefits beyond refuge boundaries. 

Comprehensive Conservation Plans 

Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs) are the primary planning documents for National Wildlife Refuges. As outlined in the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, as amended, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is required to develop CCPs that guide refuge management for the next 15 years. CCPs articulate the Service’s contributions to meeting refuge purposes and the National Wildlife Refuge System mission. CCPs serve as a bridge between broad, landscape-level plans developed by other agencies and stakeholders and the more detailed step-downs that stem from Refuge CCPs.  

The 2010 Comprehensive Management Plan for Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge can be found here: https://ecos.fws.gov/ServCat/DownloadFile/168602

Step-down Plans 

CCP step-down plans guide refuge-level programs for: (1) conserving natural resources (e.g., fish, wildlife, plants, and the ecosystems they depend on for habitat); (2) stewarding other special values of the refuge (e.g., cultural or archeological resources, wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, etc.); and (3) engaging visitors and the community in conservation, including providing opportunities for wildlife-dependent recreation. Like CCPs, step-down plans contribute to the implementation of relevant landscape plans by developing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) objectives, strategies, implementation schedules, and decision support tools to fulfill refuge visions and goals. This ensures that refuges are managed in a landscape context and that conservation benefits extend beyond refuge boundaries.  

Trapping Occurs on this Refuge

Trapping is a wildlife management tool used on some national wildlife refuges. Trapping may be used to protect endangered and threatened species or migratory birds or to control certain wildlife populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also views trapping as a legitimate recreational and economic activity when there are harvestable surpluses of fur-bearing mammals. Outside of Alaska, refuges that permit trapping as a recreational use may require trappers to obtain a refuge special use permit. Signs are posted on refuges where trapping occurs. Contact the refuge manager for specific regulations.  

Our Projects and Research

Science is generally conducted in partnership with the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR) as a whole, and follows guidelines of the Research and Monitoring Plan of 2006-2011. This refuge is a unique in that it is one of the very few refuges to conduct scientific research in this special way. 

SoCal Urban Wildlife Refuge Project

Learn how by working together with program partners we are helping city-dwelling communities re-connect with nature and building stewards for the environment. 

Law Enforcement

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Officers help visitors understand and obey wildlife protection laws. They work closely with state and local government offices to enforce federal, state and refuge hunting regulations that protect migratory birds and other game species from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting opportunities.

Laws and Regulations

Any activity conducted off-trails on the Tijuana Slough NWR is illegal unless approved by the Refuge Manager.  In order to conduct scientific research, or any other activity off-trail, please contact:

Jill Terp, Deputy Project Leader
Cell (619) 719-8579 
Office (619) 221-3473