The Border Field State Park Formerly Used Defense Site, or FUDS, is located in San Diego County, within the city of Imperial Beach, California. The property is immediately north of the international border between the U.S. and Mexico. The western side of the property is bounded by the Pacific Ocean. The FUDS is located within the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Border Field State Park and the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge.
In 1929, the Department of Navy leased 98 acres in southern California for a practice facility. The Border Field State Park FUDS was initially used as an auxiliary aviation field for Naval Air Station, San Diego. During the 1940s, the property expanded to 372 acres and included an aircraft gunnery range, machine gun training center, bombing target, air-to-ground gunnery range and an emergency landing field.
By 1944, records indicate that approximately 30 buildings and structures had been constructed at the facility. Most of these structures were temporary and their uses included offices, quarters, shops and ammunition storage. Training area improvements included a bombing target and a range complex that consisted of approximately five jeep-type moving targets in the dune area, a mobile firing line in the center of the site and an air-to-ground gunnery range.
During the 1950s, the California National Guard used the facility on weekends as a launching area for pilotless target drones. In 1961, the gunnery training activities were discontinued but the Navy continued to use the facility as an electronic laboratory. The Imperial Beach Police Department reportedly used the southern portion of the facility in the 1960s as a small arms shooting range. The facility was eventually declared surplus and the property was transferred to the State of California in 1971.
The Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve is identified as a Wetlands of International Importance and is cooperatively managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The area preserves, protects and manages the natural and cultural resources of the Tijuana River Estuary. This reserve encompasses beach, dune, mudflat, salt marsh, riparian, coastal sage scrub and upland habitats that surrounded the growing cities of Tijuana, Imperial Beach and San Diego.
Border Field State Park is located within the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Park visitors participate in recreational activities such as hiking, horseback riding, bird watching and picnicking. The Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, also located in the reserve, is an important salt marsh and provides a critical habitat for federally listed endangered plants and animals. More than 370 species of birds have been sighted at the refuge, which has been designated as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began investigating the former training area in 1994 through the FUDS Program. The Border Field State Park FUDS property has been divided into two projects, the Demonstration Bombing Target and the Small Arms Range Complex. This website provides information on both projects.