Campus: San Diego State University -- February 9, 2005
SDSU, Mexican University Complete Comprehensive Tijuana
River Watershed Atlas
Researchers at San Diego State University, along with partners around San Diego
and at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) in Mexico, have completed the most
comprehensive set of geographical data ever assembled about the Tijuana River
watershed, a crucial step toward successful long-term planning and management
for the fast-growing binational area.
The Tijuana River Watershed Atlas, in development for nearly a decade, includes
approximately 80 photographs, maps, and text in English and Spanish. It captures
much of the diversity and complexity of the watershed, a 1,750-square-mile drainage
basin that stretches from the Pacific Ocean at the Tijuana River Estuary north to
Mount Laguna and southeast into remote mountains and valleys located well inside
Richard Wright, professor of geography at SDSU and Rafael Vela of COLEF, general
editors of the project, said the new atlas is an important breakthrough because
it presents the first unified view of the watershed as seen by scholars on both
sides of the border.
"For the first time, policymakers and planners from the United States and Mexico
can work from a common set of data," Wright said. "That has been one of the
impediments to binational cooperation over the watershed in the past. If you're
not working with the same information, how can you productively discuss your
similarities and differences of opinion?"
The atlas, a boxed set of dozens of maps, photos and text each suitable for display
on a wall, includes many types of data, ranging from topography and climate
information to human population and land use patterns.
In addition to serving as a policy and planning tool, Wright said the atlas also
serves as an effective educational aid for demonstrating how the two nations are
intertwined by the watershed's systems and landscape. More than 200 copies of the
atlas are being provided to the San Diego Natural History Museum for use in the
PROBEA project, a binational environmental teacher education program. Some
copies of the atlas will be available to other educational agencies at no cost.
Compiling the atlas was a challenging endeavor at times, Wright said. The
researchers had to arrange for National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) aircraft to fly over Mexican airspace to take aerial photographs of the
areas of the watershed south of the border. SDSU partnered with the San Diego
Association of Governments to obtain needed satellite imagery. Common classification
systems had to be created in English and Spanish for some data, such as land use.
In some cases, maps required extensive field work and many months of labor to
For more information or to obtain copies of the atlas, call (619) 594-5423 or
visit http://irsc.sdsu.edu/. Funding for
research and production of the Tijuana River Watershed Atlas was provided by the
Southwest Consortium for Environmental Research and Policy, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, NOAA, and SDSU's Institute for Regional Studies of the
Californias (IRSC) and Department of Geography Center for Earth Systems Analysis
Research. Harry Johnson of the Department of Geography was the chief cartographer
for the atlas and Paul Ganster, director of IRSC, was the principal text editor.
Media Contact: Jason Foster,
firstname.lastname@example.org, (619) 594-2585