My Home: The Tijuana Estuary and River Mouth MPA and Imperial Beach

Thanks to Ralph Lee Hopkins for sharing this amazing photo of the Tijuana Estuary, Tijuana River Mouth MPA, Imperial Beach and South San Diego Bay Wildlife Refuge. Ralph is an extraordinary photographer and has done a lot to promote the beauty of Baja California.

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Bulldozers and Estuaries

On June 22, 1980, I learned that then Imperial Beach Mayor Brian Bilbray was planning on damming up the Tijuana Estuary. He argued that it was to be done to stop the flow of polluted water into the Pacific Ocean. I and others believed it was to be done to flood the Tijuana Estuary to demonstrate it was a garbage dump prior to a key referendum in Imperial Beach on placing a marina in the Tijuana Estuary.

So a few friends –Jack Burns, Tim Hannan, Jim and Jeff Knox, Richard Abrams, Dave Parra and Ben Holt–and I sat in front of the bulldozers.

We stopped the estuary from being dammed up, but Bilbray made his career out of his skiploader episode–ironically portrayed by the media as an environmentalist.

It was an ugly time. That incident followed a cleanup event I helped to organize in which a member of the Aryan Brotherhood shot a cleanup participant. I witnessed the shooting, which clearly had a racial tilt (the shooter yelled “Hey, ni..er get the hell out of here” to a man playing a guitar at the cleanup BBQ. And then he shot a man in the mouth who defended the guitar player).

Being an environmentalist back then wasn’t glamorous or even popular. Still when I look back on our effort which led to the permanent protection of the Tijuana Estuary, I am proud of the work we did.

Bilbray assaulted us with rocks and polluted water before ordering his flunkies to assault us.

Imperial Beach Lifeguard Ben Holt tries to stop his lifelong friend Brian Bilbray from destroying the Tijuana Estuary. Benny had known Brian since he was a kid. That is me watching.

Dave Parra tries to rescue me from the goons that assaulted me. I was punched in the face by a big guy. That is me on the bottom.

Wild Sea Launch Party

More than 100 people joined me on Saturday (Jan. 29th) for the official Wild Sea launch party. Lots of old friends and members of the San Diego surfing and environmental community joined us at the Tijuana Estuary Visitor’s Center. Thanks to everyone who came and who bought a book!!!!

Mike and Patricia McCoy, my conservation mentors, introduce me.

Wildcoast's Zach Plopper and pro surfer and IB local Kyle Knox. I've surfed with Kyle since he was a wee grom.

IB super groms Josh Johnson, my son Daniel and Loukas Lopez.

Environmental attorney Rory Wicks and me.

Former Wildcoast staffer Mercedes Sironi and my wife Emily Young.

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