Help Save The Chula Vista Nature Center


UPDATE: The SEMPRA Foundation has donated $125,000 to help save the Chula Vista Nature Center. An anonymous donor has pledged to match all donations dollar for dollar up to another $125,000.  Read on and consider making a donation that will be matched in an effort to keep alive this one-of-a-kind nature center in a National Wildlife Refuge.


Four National Wildlife Refuges are located in the southwestern corner of San Diego County. This area surrounding the San Diego Bay and Sweetwater River is recognized as one of the most internationally significant wetlands in the world. Over 370 species of birds pass through the wildlife refuges during their annual migration through one of the few remaining wildlife corridors in the North America.

The Chula Vista Nature Center & Aquarium provides a birds-eye view of wildlife in this federally protected area.  Unfortunately, it is now being recommended for closure as the City of Chula Vista seeks to cut expenses. I ask you to help keep their doors open, whether it is helping to raise funds or signing a petition to encourage the City of Chula Vista’s elected officials to keep it funded.

I first learned about the Chula Vista Nature Center a few months ago as I prepared a San Diego travel web site that will be launched in the coming weeks. I took special interest in learning about little publicized attractions that I know will appeal to much larger audiences once they receive the publicity they deserve. The Chula Vista Nature Center and the National Wildlife Refuges are at the top of that list.

I visited the Chula Vista Nature Center & Aquarium last month and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the offering.

The first thing that strikes you is its location. It is very easy to reach. The parking lot is literally at the end of the E Street Exit (8B) off of highway I-5 in Chula Vista. From there, you are driven on a bus over a half-mile through the wildlife habitat to reach the Nature Center.

The wildlife habitat surrounding the Nature Center is part of the National Wildlife Refuge.  Several trails lead out from the Nature Center taking visitors to see hundreds of birds and other wildlife in their natural environment.  I live next to the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve and have hiked through just about every natural wildlife area in San Diego County. I’ve even visited the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding rainforest. I thought I had seen it all until I visited the Refuge. This is a very special area where it is amazing you can surround yourself with so much wildlife and yet still see the skyline of a major metropolitan city off in the distance.

The Nature Center educates visitors about the surrounding wildlife, its habitat, and the importance of wildlife corridors. Going beyond that, it also provides what amounts to a small zoo and aquarium. Among the birds and sealife on display, visitors get an upclose view of a bald eagle, two golden eagles, and an endangered Sea Turtle. Many of the displays are hands-on including the shark and sting-ray petting tank. This makes the Chula Vista Nature Center a great place for kids and their families. The dozens of kids I saw during my visit were having a blast. The smaller size and cost ($6 for Adults and $3 for Kids) of this Nature Center makes the visit an easy and inexpensive outing to provide a high level of wildlife exposure to young children.

The Nature Center has built a lot of momentum towards becoming a self-financed institution. Over $7 million, much of it coming from donations, has been invested in recent years to make this a worthy facility for visitors from around the world.

This will all come to an end if we can’t gather enough people to help out. The city administration will be recommending closure of the Chula Vista Nature Center at budget hearing on Thursday, December 4th as a way to cover the City’s budget gap. So, I am asking you to either:

  • Sign a petition to be provided to the elected leaders.
  • Attend the budget hearing to show your support.
  • Help encourage donations to the Nature Center to help cover up to $660,000 in annual cost currently covered by the City of Chula Vista.

You can help save the Nature Center by visiting the Save The Chula Vista Nature Center web site. There, you will be able to watch a video overview of the Nature Center and help out in one of the ways I mentioned above. You can also learn more about the Chula Vista Nature Center by visiting its web site.

This is a great facility that just needs more publicity to one day become self-sufficient. Let’s not lose all of the hard work that has gone into the development of this wildlife treasure. Thank you for your consideration.


Not sure why but I’m having trouble getting my WordPress software to approve the following comment from Charles G. So, here it is:

I have had the honor seeing the Nature Center grow and improve with the addition of world-class exhibits that focus entirely on local wildlife – something you will not find anywhere else.

The City Of Chula Vista and most cities are facing very difficult decisions that will impact the services offered to the public, individuals who will be loosing their jobs, and the very fabric of our communities. I do not envy the elected city officials and others that must make the tough decisions that will balance the budgets.

However, the Chula Vista Nature Center is too valuable a resource to be lost. For those who have not yet visited CVNC – go see what it is all about. Those who enjoy what the Center has to offer become an annual member. Consider volunteering or making a donation – every little bit helps.

To find out more about volunteer opportunities or how to make a donation:
Call (619) 409-5900 or vista

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