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Open Access Publications from the University of California

River Restoration for a Socially and Ecologically Devastated Border City


The Tijuana River Watershed is one of eight watersheds that encompass the urbanized area of San Diego and Tijuana. The San Diego - Tijuana cross border corridor lies along the 1,951 mile long international border dividing the United States and Mexico, known as the U.S. Mexican Border Region (San Diego Association of Governments). It is currently the fastest growing region in North America (US / Mexico Border Counties Coalition) and accounts for roughly a third of total population growth in the United States and Mexico over the last 15 years (United States Census Burea / Consejo Nacional de Poblacion). The Tijuana River Watershed straddles this international boundary revealing economic inequalities, ecological devastation and social disparities that exist between the two countries. Tijuana has always had a unique role in the region attracting tourism, providing a cheap labor pool and as a staging ground for those trying to pass North through the border to the United States. It also plays a role not unlike the slums and lower income neighborhoods of other U.S. cities; in this case however the poor areas are pushed out to the edge of the urban area and masked behind the screen of the border (Lynch & Appleyard 1974). Could there be a sustainable future for a socially and ecologically devastated border city? How might such a vision come to fruition and what would be the social and ecological impact? At the heart of any solution to the issues raised here is the Tijuana River as it passes through the City of Tijuana.

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