Woman risks citation for cleaning up a popular San Diego river trail

Woman says brush is too thick along the bank

SAN DIEGO - A San Diego woman is cleaning up a popular river trail even though she knows she could be cited or fined for doing it.

"I don't like all this dry stuff growing up into the trees," said the woman who didn't want us to use her name, as she removed long, dry grass called Arundo from the banks of the San Diego river. "I'm concerned about fire
 
She said the Arundo and other plants have grown so thick on the bank it's dangerous for people who use the trail so she pulls up the plants in certain areas to make things less dense.
 
"There have been occasions that people have been hiding behind the bushes and giving people a scare," said another woman walking on the trail during lunch.
 
Team 10 saw groups of homeless people along the trail with their belongings and shopping carts hidden in the thick brush. There was also trash, dead tree limbs and food left out for feral cats.
 
"I'm hoping that someone will take an interest in poor Mission Valley and try to make this an asset to the community instead of a dangerous mess," the woman said.
 
But under the First San Diego River Improvement Project or FSDRIP, the woman is not allowed to disturb the environment at all. The FSDRIP runs along a 7,000 square foot section of the San Diego river from Qualcomm Way to Highway 163.
 
San Diego River Map
 
The project is for flood control and to protect the wetlands. Disturbing the area could result in a citation or vandalism charges.
 
Under the rules, the city can maintain the trail, but can't touch the area from the trail to the water.
 
Bill Harris, spokesman for the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department, said removing the plants could be dangerous.
 
"Quite frankly, it could exacerbate the very problem you are trying to solve. If you pull one plant out whose to say, an invasive species won't come in and blossom," said Harris.
 
He said the San Diego Police Department and Environmental Services patrol the area for homeless people who have set up encampments. Harris said they would check the areas that Team 10 saw what appeared to be people living along the trail.
 
The woman is ultimately hoping for a rule change to the FSDRIP to allow more to be done along the river banks.

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