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Putting the “E” in Paradise Creek

By Ted Godshalk, Director of Paradise Creek Educational Park Inc. (PCEPI)

The salt marsh habitat in the Old Town neighborhood of National City was never considered important by anyone until the 1990s. While the storm drain system was designed to drain into Paradise Creek and the city had tried to control the flows with some channelization and some undergrounding, the little creek that is connected to San Diego Bay was largely neglected. It took teachers, students, and community members who believed in the creek to come up with a plan to protect it.

The teachers at Kimball School knew that an important part of their job was bringing outside resources to the community. Expert planning advice came from the National Park Service. Design workshops were planned to gather input from the neighbors. Examples of environmental education were studied and adapted to Paradise Creek’s unique habitat.


The community members knew that the surrounds of Kimball School lacked open space. They needed places to walk, observe nature, and get a respite from the busy, business oriented city. The park they envisioned would include an elevated trail over the wetland and native plants to mimic the pre-human environment.

The students knew they loved being outdoors. They were thirsty for art and science. They received guidance from teachers to advocate for the protection of a delicate part of their backyard. Kimball students stepped up as advocates and volunteers at Paradise Creek Educational Park.

Through our non-profit and its work with groups big and small, the salt marsh is protected, and its value as an educational tool is now recognized. From City engineers to college students, from politicians to park designers, the amount of understanding about Paradise Creek has grown in leaps and bounds.

Many thanks to Ocean Connectors for being part of the learning community at the creek. The students love being part of your programs and we love the new
resources you bring to our community.

Paradise Creek Educational Park Inc. looks forward to resuming their monthly “Creek Days” volunteer clean-up events as soon as possible. Creek Days are usually held on the last Saturday of the month from 8:30 to noon. Please follow their Facebook page for more information.

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