SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The Tijuana River Valley is filled with trails, wildlife, flora and fauna, and, unfortunately, the entire valley is also littered with old tires.
Over the years, thousands of tires have made their way down canyons and the Tijuana River, flowing north of the border onto U.S. territory.
Many end up in the ocean but a lot of them get stuck along the way and sit there for years.
“We have a terrible problem with tires,” said Fay Crevoshay, communications and policy director for Wildcoast, an environmental protection group based in Imperial Beach, California.
For decades, Wildcoast has been involved in trying to clean up the Tijuana River Valley, which is also home to tons of trash, plastics, chemical waste, raw sewage and other debris that flow north of the border from Tijuana, Mexico.
But the tires are seen as extremely problematic as they also help spread disease.
“They’re so big and they hold all kinds of water inside when it rains and are a very good vectors to create mosquitos and disease, and all kinds of serpents and rats can be there it’s a terrible problem,” said Crevoshay.
As a way to fight this problem, Wildcoast has been collecting and recycling some of the tires.
Now it is using them to create parks in canyons south of the border.
“We wanted to prove it to Tijuana that, hey, you can use this property so we built a whole park out of waste tires,” said Crevoshay. “We also ended up building a little football place, some fencing, so the ball doesn’t go into the river that carries wastewater basically sewage, raw sewage and the kids could get sick.”
According to Crevoshay, the tires are also being used to shore up retaining walls and for outdoor staircases used by residents to enter and leave canyons where their homes are located.
Crevoshay says the park and the use of the old tires has been so successful, the city of Tijuana is now asking if more can be built.
“Everybody likes the parks, we can build many more parks, Tijuana is one of the cities with the least parks.”
Crevoshay says Wildcoast would like to build additional parks if it can secure funding, something it is actively pursuing. The park cost $63,000 to build.