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Using recycled wood from a demolished bridge, the Rotarians completed the project in one day, saving the park more than $40,000 in construction costs.

This project was nominated for a Partnership Award as part of the 2008 National Trails Awards, announced at the 19th National Trails Symposium in Little Rock, Arkansas.


San Dieguito Boardwalk community service project built with Rotary Club help

The San Dieguito River Valley, one of the last remaining natural valleys in the San Diego region, stretches from the mountain top in Julian, to the ocean in Del Mar for fifty-five miles. The river system flows through many of Southern California’s sensitive natural environments, including coastal wetlands, chaparral, oak meadows, and pine forests, providing a critical wildlife network that provides a home for many threatened animals.

photo of board construction

Del Mar Rotary Club, to commemorate the Rotary centennial, partnered
with the River Park to complete the 1,400-foot-long Boardwalk

The San Dieguito River Park’s objectives are to preserve open space, conserve sensitive habitats, protect water resources and the floodplain, and to create connecting paths and trails for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding from the gateway at the lagoon to the summit of Volcan Mountain— hence the designation Coast-to-Crest Trail.

To create the San Dieguito River Park, the County of San Diego and the Cities of Del Mar, Escondido, Poway, San Diego, and Solana Beach formed an independent local government agency in 1989 known as the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority (JPA).

The JPA Board and staff of ten are joined by a private non-profit organization, the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, and hundreds of volunteers whose efforts to achieve the Park’s goal of a continuous trail system will take many years to fully implement. Nonetheless, each step, each contribution, is vital toward piecing together this vast open space park. The Del Mar Rotary Club, in a project to commemorate the Rotary centennial, partnered with the River Park to complete a 1,400-foot-long Boardwalk project that is an important subsection of the larger planned trail.

While the boardwalk was designed by KTU+A Landscape Architects and Marathon Construction was the contractor, the Del Mar Rotary Club provided the equivalent of $40,000 in materials and enough manpower in a mammoth work party to complete the project in time for the grand opening celebration held on National Trails Day, Saturday, June 2nd, 2007.

photo of lagoon with hills in background

San Dieguito River Park


The Del Mar Rotary Club started this community service project in 2006 when they were planning a “centennial project that would be built to last”. River Park Director Dick Bobertz asked the club if it would install wood planks on an existing base to create a boardwalk over the wetlands, which would give visitors the sensation of walking on water. Using recycled wood from a demolished bridge, the Rotarians completed the project in one day, saving the park more than $40,000 in construction costs.

The details and the organization of the project that preceded the work party, however, took much longer than a day. The Boardwalk provides 1,400 feet of trail for pedestrian use in the San Dieguito lagoon area.

It begins with a short concrete sidewalk coming down from Jimmy Durante Boulevard, a major thoroughfare, onto a section of trail on a berm next to the river, which then transitions into a 1,200 foot-long boardwalk made with 2,400 planks, ending with a viewing platform and bench.

This boardwalk will align with the trail heading eastward and was installed using “Diamond Piers”, a low impact foundation technology. The area is excellent for bird watching and nature studies. The Del Mar Rotary has also established a program to sell plaques for each plank in order to raise money for interpretive signage along the Boardwalk and coastal trail, to extend the trail, and restore wetlands.

diagram of people on low boardwalk

Schematic of the six-foot wide boardwalk


These plaques can be personalized to simply show support or to memorialize a loved one. The interpretive panels will encompass such topics as the Pacific Flyway and the numbers and types of birds found at the coastal end of the River Park as well as the importance of river habitats. Over thirty of the planned fifty-mile trails are in place, and the coastal wetlands are the jewels in the River Park crown.

The work completed on the Boardwalk on April 7, 2007 enhances the natural environment of the lagoon and is an inspiration to what partnerships can accomplish. The hard work and dedication toward helping construct the Coast-to-Crest Trail and the outreach involved in building the lagoon coastal boardwalk has made the Del Mar Rotary Club an invaluable partner. Their project has been of great benefit to the San Dieguito River Park. Undertaking a project and then working to accomplish it is what demonstrates exemplary service and for this reason we would like their work to be recognized by the National Trails Awards program.

For more information, see the San Dieguito River Park website at


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