Soundings – August 2017

SOUNDINGS
The ecological e-newsletter of Eco-Alianza de Loreto, A.C.
August 2017

Eco-Alianza de Loreto’s mission is to protect and conserve the natural and cultural environment by empowering civil society and government to jointly create healthy and prosperous communities.

Our vision is that communities believe their quality of life is related to the health and vitality of the environment and citizens act accordingly.

Fishing is for the Birds


Photos courtesy of Richard Jackson Photography.
This photographic series by Rick Jackson proves how the proper tools and the proper technique make for an effective combination, as this Reddish Egret successfully catches breakfast (clockwise from upper left). Summer heat in Loreto demands efficiency in movement!!
Grants and Donations Support Marine Park Enforcement Efforts

Photo courtesy of ProNatura Noroeste.

Paralelo 28 Gathering Steam Statewide


Hugo Quintero (third from right at front table) took part in the La Paz presentation.
Photo courtesy of Paralelo28.org

As reported previously in Soundings, Eco-Alianza is one of four non-profit partners in the
Paralelo 28 collaboration. Late last month, Eco-Alianza President Hugo Quintero joined in a public presentation in La Paz, where representatives of tourism companies presented a check to support the collaborative efforts. Funds are raised through a variety of methods, including sales of wristbands, stuffed animals, events, and general donations to Paralelo28.org .

In addition to Eco-Alianza, participating organizations include ProNatura Noroeste, Niparajá, and Red de Observadores Ciudadanos La Paz. The groups seek to partner with businesses, tourism service suppliers, tourists, fishermen and society in general, in the defense and safeguard of protected natural areas. Funds raised will be dedicated to support surveillance and enforcement efforts in five natural protected areas in the region, including the Bay of Loreto National Park.

Quintero said he hopes to host a similar Paralelo 28 presentation in Loreto in the late summer or fall. For more information: Paralelo28.org .

Environmental Education Never Ends at Eco-Alianza

Whether it’s an educational event, a workshop, a field trip, a public presentation, or some sort of teacher meeting or training, there’s always environmental education activity afoot at Eco-Alianza. At the center of it all is Environmental Education Coordinator Edna Peralta.Getting children and adults outside to experience nature is her favorite part of the job, Edna says, because helping people learn and helping them to make that personal connection is what it’s all about. After more than seven years building the environmental education program at Eco-Alianza, she is hopeful that she may be joined in the not too distant future by another educator.

In the meantime, here’s a brief glimpse at the activities from the first half of this year (a presentation Edna whipped together for Eco-Alianza’s Board of Directors meeting in July:
https://www.kizoa.com/Movie-Maker/d129472351k5293411o1/201707-reporte-trimestral-edu-amb

And for a sense of the impact these environmental education programs have on Loreto’s children, here’s a brief video, with thanks to volunteer “Pepe” Ruiz Cheires and K-Drone Adventure Films https://youtu.be/_VXF5VmW4bw

Tickets NOW on Sale for 10th Anniversary Gala

Come join us and kick up your heels on November 11 to celebrate Eco-Alianza’s 10 Years of Conservation. Our anniversary dinner/auction has sold out five years in a row, so with limited seating for our hallmark 10th Anniversary we’re expecting to sell out very early. Please reserve your tickets now to guarantee your seats.

Eco-Alianza Headquarters “Going Solar”


Photo of CenCoMA showing solar panels.
Photo courtesy of Richard Jackson Photography.

They’ve been in the plans for some time, but the array of solar panels on the roof of Eco-Alianza’s CenCoMA headquarters is an obvious sign of the organization’s long-term energy efficiency effort. Energy-efficient lighting, modular air conditioning units, outdoor plantings, and a shade-covered courtyard also have contributed to improved energy efficiency.

Hugo Quintero, Eco-Alianza CEO and co-founder, said the nine solar panels and accompanying microinverters are just the beginning. Additional panels will be added over the next year or so, coordinated with other building improvements, to maximize energy production. Each panel is tilted at the perfect angle to take full advantage of sunlight throughout the year.

“Nature Notes” is a monthly short feature detailing some of the wondrous, seasonal activities taking place around us.

Clockwise order from upper left.
Brown Booby adult with single remaining chick.
Brewsteri subspecies pair of Brown Boobies at a nest site.
Blue-footed Booby’s blue feet.
Blue-Footed Booby in flight.

Photos courtesy of Tom Haglund/BCS Birds.

By Tom HaglundThey’rrre baaaack!!

If you’ve been missing seeing the Boobies the past few months there’s good news: they are returning from their annual nesting grounds to Loreto in good numbers. They leave in spring and go to several islands to nest. The Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) usually lays two eggs. The Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) lays one to three. Both parents bring food to their chicks and regurgitate it for their consumption. Neither species typically raises all of its chicks successfully.

Both birds dive for fish, the Blue-footed generally from higher than the Brown and very vertically to gain greater depth. The Brown flies lower over the water and dives at a shallower angle, returning to the air very quickly after most dives, whereas the Blue-footed often stays submerged for several seconds. The Blue-footed tends to fish in larger groups than does the Brown.

There is a subspecies of Brown Booby (brewsteri) here, the male of which has a whitish head, the females of both types of Browns look exactly alike. The Blue-footed, as the name implies, has blue feet.

Both Browns and Blue-footed can be seen regularly in fall and winter in various locations around Loreto. On the Eastern and Northern cliffs of Isla Coronado they can be quite numerous. The remaining pilings of the old pier on the north side of Las Garzas often has a number of roosting Blue-footeds. Both species can be seen diving for food all along the malecón and beaches.

There’s Still Time to Take the Soundings Readers Survey

Early last summer, we embarked on a quest to inform more fully, and to interact more frequently, with everyone interested in Eco-Alianza’s mission. The initiative included Soundings – a new, monthly e-newsletter.

Last month we began a 10-question Readers Survey, which ends a week from today. Please take two minutes to share your thoughts about Soundings‘ first year, and you may find yourself the lucky winner of an Eco-Alianza cap or T-shirt – our way of saying thanks for your time and your opinions!!

Survey in English:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8J6RTH7

Survey in Spanish:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KHB3KSC

Coming in the September Soundings

Loreto’s Own Organic, Pasteurized Goat Milk and Cheese Operation Expecting November Opening!!!

Our Loreto office address is:
Centro Communitario para el Medio Ambiente (CenCoMA)
Miguel Hidalgo SN, Loc 3
Esq. Romanita
Col. Contro, CP 23880
Loreto, B.C.S., México
http://www.ecoalianzaloreto.org
http://espanol.ecoalianzaloreto.org

Eco-Alianza “Soundings”

 

SOUNDINGS
The ecological e-newsletter of Eco-Alianza de Loreto, A.C.
July 2017

Eco-Alianza de Loreto’s mission is to protect and conserve the natural and cultural environment by empowering civil society and government to jointly create healthy and prosperous communities.

Our vision is that communities believe their quality of life is related to the health and vitality of the environment and citizens act accordingly.

 

Eco-Alianza Teams Up to Support Totoaba Program

Photos by Megan Rogers and Eco-Alianza staff.

 

By Megan Rogers, Eco-Alianza Intern with contributions by Eco-Alianza staff

More than 50 volunteers rolled up their sleeves on July 14 at the Santispac beach on Bahía Concepción in Mulegé, determined to do whatever is necessary to support a critically endangered fish, the Totoaba. On that day, the task was to release 30,000 young fish into the bay, a bucketful at a time.

When the 244 islands and islets of the Gulf of California were declared a World Heritage Site in 2005, the Totoaba was one of the reasons – an endemic, endangered species that historically has been an important food source in the area. Currently it is also the center of controversy, as illegal fishing operations target the species and sell it covertly to a black market in China that covets only part of the fish, its swim bladder. The gill nets that are used to catch Totoaba in its range in the northern Gulf also are blamed for the precipitous decline of the world’s most endangered cetacean, the Vaquita (see article below).

As Totoaba have become rarer and rarer, the Mexican government has taken a variety of steps to conserve both the Totoaba and the Vaquita. One of the efforts for the Totoaba involves a privately-owned company called Earth Ocean Farms in La Paz, which operates a hatchery for the fish and raises them through aquaculture until they are large enough to have a fair chance for survival.

This is the third year that Eco-Alianza has taken part in the fish release, sanctioned by México’s secretariat in charge of fisheries, Sagarpa, as well as Semarnat. Part of the reasoning for the release site is that it’s an area within the natural range of the Totoaba, but is nearly 400 miles south of the range of the Vaquita.

Although the program has a bit of a wait-and-see, experimental element to it, helping an endangered species in any way is a positive step, says Eco-Alianza President and CEO Hugo Quintero. “Even if all the Totoaba babies released are eaten by larger fish, events like these not only aim to help the ecosystems, but to change the mind-set of all the participating people, engaging them in conservation and in a responsible consumption of seafood products.” Releasing the animals, he says, “brings hope to young kids and helps them feel both connected to nature, and part of a potential conservation solution.” This year, he said, several special needs children from Santa Rosalía took part, giving them a rare opportunity for a hands-on conservation experience.

Amidst a diverse crowd of passionate adults, my camera lens gravitated most towards the glowing faces of the children at the Totoabas release. Though I come from a dramatically different climate and culture, I could relate to the excitement of the children in full, recalling my own Salmon release experience when I was their age. The physical impact of the Totoabas release will remain largely ambiguous, as the fish were not tagged in any way; however, the greatest impact of the release could be in the memories made by children. It is experiences like the Totoabas release that cultivate the next generation of environmentally connected and conscious citizens. Witnessing the joy of the children as they liberated the precious fish gave me immense hope that as they grow into teens and parents one day, environmental awareness will be a part of their identity.

Thank you to Eco-Alianza volunteer José Gregorio Ruiz Cheires for creating this video of the event:
https://youtu.be/iAnWjejqIxA

Here’s a link to a video on the Totoaba issue, in Spanish
https://youtu.be/lXc6CZ7NmNo

UNESCO Meeting Yields Surprising Results Regarding Vaquita

Photo courtesy of Center for Biological Diversity.

Earlier this month, the annual meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, in Krakow, Poland, resulted in some unexpected results for many involved in the struggle to save the Vaquita, the world’s most endangered cetacean.

The small porpoise, which lives in the northern Gulf of California and nowhere else, has dwindled over the past decades from an estimated population of almost 600 in the late 1990s to 245 in 2008; 200 in 2012; 97 in 2014, 60 in 2015; and now 30. The marine mammals’ main cause of mortality has been entanglement and subsequent drowning in fishing nets, many aimed at another endangered species, the Totoaba fish (see article above).

In a 1972 convention the United Nations created the World Heritage Committee to identify and designate specific sites around the world that contain elements of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including threatened animals and plants, unique physical or biological formations, and other natural features. The Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California were declared a World Heritage Site in 2005, partly because of the endangered Vaquita and the endangered Totoaba. As a signatory of the World Heritage treaty, it is incumbent upon the Mexican government to conserve and protect the 244 islands and islets that are part of the site, and also the elements of OUV.

Part of the World Heritage convention declares that sites can be declared at the annual meetings as “World Heritage Site in Danger,” a designation that allows for other countries to take extreme measures, and use UNESCO funding, to protect the OUV elements of the site. If the site loses its OUV elements, it also allows for de-certification as a World Heritage Site.

Since May 2015, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Animal Welfare Institute have lobbied for the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to apply “In Danger” designation for The Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California site, including all five islands in the Bay of Loreto National Park. This year the resolution was widely expected to pass, at the annual meeting in Poland. Part of the argument is that México’s government has not taken adequate measures to protect the Vaquita and Totoaba. The petition paper is linked below.

Surprisingly, however, less than two weeks before the meeting, México announced that the temporary gill net ban in the upper Gulf, where the Vaquita live, has been made permanent. The committee at its meeting voted to delay for a year the decision to attach “In Danger” designation to the site.

Links:
http://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/unesco-postpones-in-danger-designation/
?utm_source=Mexico+News+Daily&utm_campaign=ab7aafc164-July+6&utm
_medium=email&utm_term=0_f1536a3787-ab7aafc164-347997877

http://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/gillnet-fishing-ban-becomes-permanent/

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/mammals/vaquita
/pdfs/Gulf_of_California_WH_In_Danger_Petition_5_13_15.pdf


Sister City Committee Reaching Across
the Border for Cooperation

Linda Kinninger, Arely Arce, Caryl Cantrell, Rosa Campos.
Eco-Alianza staff photo.
Loreto’s Sister City Committee has held several meetings this spring and summer to investigate ways to work cooperatively with a similar committee in our Sister City of Ventura, CA.

Among other topics, the group is considering a variety of fundraising ideas to support cross-cultural trips for exceptional Loreto children to visit Ventura and  participate in an exchange program focused on environmental education.

The trips would also have cultural components, as well as informal opportunities to experience life with American families.

The Sister City Committee in Ventura, as reported previously in Soundings, is considering ideas for a “Migrant Club” project that would benefit Loreto. The group’s Migrant Club was initiated earlier this year by 10 Mexican nationals who now live in the Ventura area. Formation of the group may make them eligible for matching funds from the Mexican government for projects that benefit sister communities in México (i.e., Loreto).

Currently, both groups are investigating the feasibility of initiating a used motor oil collection facility for Loreto, which could ultimately result in used motor oil being recycled. The municipality of Loreto is helping to explore the idea, which would require approval of an appropriate site, as well as a variety of environmental and other permits. On the plus side, the facility would ensure that used motor oil is collected in an appropriate manner, instead of potentially being disposed of in ways that could leach into drinking water aquifers or the marine park.

Watch this space for more news on this project and other Sister City/Sister Park/Sister Mission happenings.


Meet Jimena Gallegos, Eco-Alianza’s Projects Manager

Jimena Gallegos, Projects Manager.
Eco-Alianza staff photo.At the beginning of July, Eco-Alianza welcomed a new staff member, Jimena Gallegos Palos, who will serve as Projects Manager. Jimena earned a degree in Electronic and Telecommunications Engineering from the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí, her home state in North-Central México. She is currently studying for a master’s degree in Environmental Management and Marine Technologies.

Jimena also has a strong interest in Eco-Alianza’s budding business incubator initiative and holds a degree in Social Incubators from the Cuernavaca campus of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. She has previously worked to link México’s national entrepreneurial support system to business acceleration platforms and a private capital management network, all to benefit budding entrepreneurs. Eco-Alianza staff members came to know Jimena through her work in La Paz on various StartUp Weekend events, supporting local entrepreneurs and helping to flesh out their ideas (previously reported in Soundings).

“My expectations with Eco-Alianza are to support the growth of the multidisciplinary team and the community in general for empowerment, education, and the conservation of our natural ecosystems,” Jimena says. “I believe in gratitude to the universe for each of the opportunities it offers us, recognizing that giving is not a cycle – sharing is part of living.”

Eco-Alianza President and CEO Hugo Quintero says he is thrilled to have Jimena on the team. “She is very well organized and has a mind for working in teams,” Hugo says. “She will help coordinate our efforts both internally and externally, and importantly, will bring increased effectiveness and efficiency to our many projects, resulting in maximum value from every penny donated by individuals and donor organizations.”

Summer Interns Fall for Loreto

If you’ve stopped by Eco-Alianza recently, you may have noticed the friendly smiles and diligent work habits of our two summer interns, who both head back north late this month.

Megan Rogers (17), from Woodinville, Washington, attends Woodinville High School, and was recently elected Student Body President. Megan’s proud grandparents are Linda and Tony Kinninger of Eco-Alianza’s Board of Directors and Advisors. Megan has enthusiastically worked closely with Edna Peralta, in the Environmental Education Program benefiting Loreto youth. Megan states, “The impact Eco-Alianza has made in Loreto over these past 10 years is truly incredible and something I was determined to be a part of since elementary school. Contributing to this organization has reaffirmed my passion of serving others and deepened my love for the beauty of Loreto and its people. Edna is a wonderful role model and I’m so thankful to learn from her and everyone at the office each day.”

Alex McBratney (17), from Santa Ana, California, attends Troy High School. Alex is the third member of his family to intern at Eco-Alianza. His sisters Kelly and Katie enjoyed the experience so much, it inspired Alex to spend a month working at Eco-Alianza and exploring the diversity of Loreto. Alex has been working along with Hector Trinidad, Director of Eco-Alianza’s conservation programs and Loreto Coastkeeper, and Edna Peralta, Coordinator, Environmental Education Programs. Alex says he was struck by the natural beauty of Loreto, which helped him understand why Eco-Alianza’s staff works so hard to protect it. Working on the Coastkeeper program with Hector, Alex says, also showed him the support that the community has for conservation and nature.

We’ll miss Megan and Alex as they head back to finish up high school, and we expect we haven’t see the last of them!

Eco-Alianza staff photos.

 

“Nature Notes” is a monthly short feature detailing some of the wondrous, seasonal activities taking place around us.

Clockwise order from upper left.
Wilson’s Plover, already an adept crab catcher at a few days out of the egg.
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, crab specialist with a crushing bill for the job.
Little Blue Heron, won’t turn blue for months, but has the crab thing figured out.
Ring-billed Gull, take ’em or leave ’em, yummy when ya can get ’em.
Photos courtesy of Tom Haglund/BCS Birds.

By Tom Haglund

As we approach Loreto’s rainy season it might be a good time to reflect a minute on what that means. The countryside will explode in greenery and butterflies, of course, but some of the other big benefits are more subtle. Vast amounts of new soil and nutrients will course down from the mountains through the arroyos and pump new life into the esteros (estuaries) all along the Baja coastline.

Here in Loreto, that means Estero las Garzas will receive its share of life’s basics to continue producing protein on an enormous scale. A walk along the beach around Las Garzas is an easy lesson in this amazing cycle, as we will see literally millions of holes, many surrounded by some tiny mud balls. These are mostly the homes of crabs. Various sizes of several species make up this incredible scramble of food looking for food. They are in the middle between their diet of even smaller life forms and the much larger shorebirds who harvest them.

Some birds are crab specialists, others just take them when convenient. Wilson’s Plovers eat little else and live their entire lives on a couple of miles of Baja shoreline. Yellow-crowned Night Herons also take crabs almost exclusively, whereas the Little Blue Heron, and Ring-billed Gull are opportunistic crab eaters. Obviously, these vital coastal interactive zones between land and sea are impacted by whatever comes down those arroyos. Be it a grand summer rain or some introduced runoff, they cannot dodge the flow.

Soundings is One Year Old – Take the Survey!

A little over a year ago, we embarked on a quest to inform more fully, and to interact more frequently, with everyone interested in Eco-Alianza’s mission. This initiative has included website upgrades, the beginnings of the Loreto.com website, frequent postings on social media, and Soundings – our monthly e-newsletter.

So what do you think? We’d appreciate two minutes out of your busy day to help us make Soundings even better. Take our 10-question readers survey, and you may find yourself the lucky winner of an Eco-Alianza cap or T-shirt – our way of saying thanks for your time and your opinions!!

Survey in English:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8J6RTH7

Survey in Spanish:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KHB3KSC

Unique Experiences – Key to an Amazing
10th Anniversary Event
 


Photo courtesy of Richard Jackson Photography.

At Eco-Alianza, our CenCoMA headquarters is already abuzz with talk about November’s 10th Anniversary dinner/auction gala. The hallmark event promises to be the best ever, even topping last year’s elegant soiree in the newly refurbished courtyard.

To make the event extra special, we need your help. One of the highlights of the event is always the live auction, which not only raises critical funds for Eco-Alianza programs and initiatives, but offers up some pretty amazing items and experiences. For our 10th Anniversary, we really need the WOW factor, and that’s where you come in!


Photo courtesy of Richard Jackson Photography.The vast majority of NGOs either burn out or fizzle in their first decade, so this really is a momentous occasion. Do you have an item, or a unique experience, that could be auctioned off to help the cause?? A lot of our bidders are doers, and aren’t always attracted by “stuff,” so we’re especially looking for out-of-the-ordinary outings or passes or tag-alongs or special trips with a unique flair! Our silent auction needs items and experiences, as well, so now’s the time, as we begin putting together our auction catalog.

All donations are tax-deductible in the U.S., so if you can pitch in, or just want to discuss an idea, please email Edna Peralta at Edna.Peralta@ecoalianzaloreto.net . And thank you so much for your support – we’ll see you November 11.

Blue Whales Lead to Blue Skies in Santa Barbara Channel

 

Most of us remember the first time we saw a blue whale, probably the largest animal ever to roam the planet. Their elegant grace almost belies description, and it’s easy to forget for a moment their massive size as one listens to their breathing or watches their tail slip beneath the waves.

 

Slower container ships means safer whales.
Photos courtesy of Earth Media Laboratory.

Shipping lanes bisect the Santa Barbara Channel.

Unfortunately, their tremendous size translates into an inability to turn on a dime, or to get out of the way of passing ships – which becomes a huge problem when blue whales cross shipping lanes. But just as we’re in love with blue whales here in their southern sanctuary of the Bay of Loreto National Park, cetacean enthusiasts in our Sister City of Ventura, and neighboring Santa Barbara, are taking steps to protect the whales on their migration route.

As it turns out, shipping companies can have a heart, too, especially when compassion is coupled with an improved bottom line. The video linked below explains the win-win situation that is now in play. Shipping companies are slowing their vessels as they traverse the Santa Barbara Channel, resulting in fewer problems for the whales, improved fuel efficiency for the ships, and also far less air pollution. Proving again that cooperation often beats confrontation, and it never hurts to ask. Enjoy!

https://www.ourair.org/air-pollution-marine-shipping/

Save the Date for an Evening to Remember

 

 

 

Our Loreto office address is:
Centro Communitario para el Medio Ambiente (CenCoMA)
Miguel Hidalgo SN, Loc 3
Esq. Romanita
Col. Contro, CP 23880
Loreto, B.C.S., México
http://www.ecoalianzaloreto.org
http://espanol.ecoalianzaloreto.org
Our USA mailing address is:
Eco-Alianza de Loreto, A.C. – CenCoMA
3419 Via Lido, Suite 637
Newport Beach, CA 92663
USA

For more information, questions & requests our email address is:

ecoalianzaloreto@gmail.com 


Copyright ©  2017 Eco-Alianza de Loreto, A.C. All rights reserved.

Gulf of California – World Heritage Site

The Gulf of California  was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2005, with modifications added in 2007 and 2011. Considering it’s beauty and bounty, it is easy to see why this area received recognition. A brief description from their website gives an overview of why this wondrous area is protected:

Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California

The site comprises 244 islands, islets and coastal areas that are located in the Gulf of California in north-eastern Mexico. The Sea of Cortez and its islands have been called a natural laboratory for the investigation of speciation. Moreover, almost all major oceanographic processes occurring in the planet’s oceans are present in the property, giving it extraordinary importance for study. The site is one of striking natural beauty in a dramatic setting formed by rugged islands with high cliffs and sandy beaches, which contrast with the brilliant reflection from the desert and the surrounding turquoise waters. It is home to 695 vascular plant species, more than in any marine and insular property on the World Heritage List. Equally exceptional is the number of fish species: 891, 90 of them endemic. The site, moreover, contains 39% of the world’s total number of species of marine mammals and a third of the world’s marine cetacean species.

Loreto Bay National Marine Park is one of the areas included in the World Heritage designation.  Efforts of local and government organizations focus on maintaining the seas bounty and wild beauty, and are supported by increasing awareness by organizations such as Eco-Alianza de Loreto.

For additional descriptions of the criteria for inclusion as a World Heritage Site – as well as expanded details on the areas themselves, here is alink to the site: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1182

MAP supplement information Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California2011.jpg

Sister Cityhood Official!

ddc2f8f1-7dce-4b44-b496-304cbb8c266d On Monday, March 30, 2015, President Jorge Alberto Avilés Pérez of Loreto, Baja California Sur, received the “Keys to the City” of Ventura, California from Mayor Cheryl Heitmann, confirming the Sister City relationship between the two municipalities.  The formal ceremony, which took place in the historic Ventura City Hall, included the reading of a proclamation, declaring the relationship between The City of San Buenaventura, California and The City of Loreto, Baja California Sur, “To encourage bi-national promotion of conservation, education, social entrepreneurship and cultural exchange between its citizens and governments in support of the Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto and Channel Islands Sister Park Project.”

President Avilés thanked the people of the City of Ventura for the distinction of Sisterhood with the City of Loreto.  In a short speech, President Avilés remarked that, “Ventura and Loreto are two cities that have in common historical and geographical perspective and the mutual desire to develop appropriate strategies to support conservation and restoration of biodiversity in the respective territories and to continue to work for the mutual good of our sister cities.”

This solidified relationship provides the opportunity, “to work in coordination with the institutions concerned to protect and conserve our environment,” continued Sr. Avilés.  The Sister City connection furthers a move toward confirmation of Sister Park/Sister Reserve between the Channel Islands National Park and The Bay of Loreto National Park.

Eco-Alianza de Loreto, A.C. spearheaded the possibilities of the Park inter-relationship, as well as Sister City status, and has served both as facilitator and coordinator of the programs in a close working relationship with the Channel Islands National Park and the City of Ventura.  When completed, the Sister Park/Reserve relationship will provide for the exchange of best-science practices, park resource management and enhanced Sister City economies associated with eco-tourism programs including unique cultural exchanges.

President Avilés was accompanied by his wife Mrs. Nancy Saldaña Cuevas, Tony and Linda Kinninger co-founders with Hugo Quintero Maldonado of Eco-Alianza, Marla Daily and Kirk Connally, of Santa Cruz Island Foundation and Terra Marine Research & Education, Inc., and Norma Garcia, the  representative of the Loreto Sister Cities committee and a member of the Board of Directors of Eco-Alianza.

The day after the ceremonies, Mayor Heitmann and the contingency from Loreto enjoyed a boat tour to Santa Cruz Island, hosted by Island Packers, where they routed the University of California Research Field Station facilities with an inland Jeep tour.  Following lunch, the group boarded a small plane for an aerial tour of the Channel Islands and a flight back to the Camarillo airport.  That following evening, the Sister Cities committees met at City Hall to begin planning first steps.  Mayor Heitmann lead the meeting with introductions, short presentations and a Q & A for all those attending.

Eco-Alianza would like to thank all those involved for making this first step both a success and a reality.  Special thanks goes to Russell Galipeau, Superintendent of the Channel islands National Park, Kate Faulkner, Chief, Natural Resources Management, CINP, Yvonne Menard, Chief of Interpretation, CINP, and most especially to Mayor Cheryl Heitmann for organizing this first meeting of the Sister Cities and for making the Loreto delegation feel so welcome in their beautiful city.  We look forward with great anticipation to the benefits of the Sister City relationship that is key to both the proposed Channel Islands National Park and Parque Nacional de Loreto Sister Park status.

For more photos:  http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=3944dc3c25cd857ae00391bf1&id=2b15e7c8e4

Mining in Baja California: Is it Worth the Risk?

Two presentations by

Mark Spalding, President, The Ocean Foundation

Mining Concessions in Baja California

Mining Concessions in Baja California

Please join Mark Spalding on Friday, April 10, at 3pm at the indoor restaurant at the Inn at Loreto Bay, or on Saturday, April 11, at 5pm at the Community Center for the Environment (CenCoMA) at Eco-Alianza headquarters for an informative presentation and discussion regarding his ongoing research on the various mining projects throughout Baja California Sur, including Loreto.

Is mining actually good for the economy for more than the short term? Or does it do more harm to long-term sustainability of natural resources (land, water and sea) and the plants, animals and people who depend on them? What does it mean for the tourism sector?
Three major projects are currently in various stages of development:

  1. Loreto/San Basilio: Azure Minerals Limited is an Australian mineral exploration company focused on developing mining projects in the richly mineralized Sierra Madre Occidental mining province in northern Mexico. In 2013, Azure successfully bid for the Loreto Copper Project, which covers 9,571 hectares on the east of the Baja California peninsula, 6 kilometers north of the town of Loreto.
    Todos Santos: Los Cardones is proposed open pit metallic mining project. The EIA for the project predicts that Los Cardones will occupy 543 hectares and will include two massive open pits from which 173 million tons of material will be extracted. 135 million tons of extracted material will be placed in material banks of waste rock and 38 million tons of the contaminated processes material will fill a massive tailings pond. The project will require the construction of a desalination plan on the Pacific coast near as Playitas that will extract 7500 cubic meters of water per day.
  2. Ulloa Bay (between San Carlos and Abreojos): Exploraciones Oceánicas a Mexican subsidiary of Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMEX)is in the permit process for underwater mining for phosphates in Baja’s Pacific coast. Known as the “Don Diego project” Ocenanica has received it’s concession for the Gulf of Ulloa but does not yet have its permits. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for proposed dredging and recovery of phosphate sands from the “Don Diego” deposit has been filed with the Mexican Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) as of Sept. 4th, 2014.

Mark is President of The Ocean Foundation in Washington, D.C., and a Senior Fellow at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Center for the Blue Economy. He is an environmental expert and attorney, tirelessly advocating on behalf of the world’s coasts and ocean. Mark has engaged in numerous environmental challenges in BCS, including last year’s successful challenge to the Cabo Pulmo development, and the successful prevention of a second industrial saltworks at Laguna San Ignacio. Mark also has a particular affinity for Loreto, serving as a member of Eco-Alianza’s advisory board since its founding, and having helped to establish and steer the Loreto Bay Foundation.

There are two separate opportunities to learn more about mining and associated risks in Baja California Sur with Mark Spalding, President of The Ocean Foundation. Come and increase your knowledge about environmental concerns and add your voice to the conversation.

Friday, April 10, 3pm

The Inn at Loreto Bay
Indoor Restaurant
Loreto Bay
Saturday, April 11, 5pm

The Community Center for the Environment
Eco-Alianza Headquarters (CenCoMA)
#3 Miguel Hidalgo esq. Romanita
Col. Centro

Thoughts from Mark Spalding & The Ocean Foundation

World Oceans Day: A Chance to Remember Complex Connections

By Mark J. Spalding, President, The Ocean Foundation

In advance of my most recent trip to Mexico, I had the good fortune to participate with other ocean-minded colleagues, including TOF Board member Samantha Campbell, in an “Ocean Big Think” solutions brainstorming workshop at the X-Prize Foundation in Los Angeles.  Many good things happened that day but one of them was the encouragement by our facilitators to focus on those solutions that touch the most ocean threats, rather than address a single problem.

This is an interesting frame because it helps everyone think about the interconnectedness of different elements in our world—air, water, land, and communities of people, animals, and plants—and how we can best help them all be healthy.  And when one is thinking about how to address the big threats to the ocean, it helps to bring it down to the community level—and thinking about ocean values being replicated over and over gain in our coastal communities, and good ways to promote multi-pronged solutions.

Ten years ago, The Ocean Foundation was founded to create a global community for ocean conservation minded people.  Over time, we have had the good fortune to build a community of advisors, donors, project managers, and other friends who care about the ocean everywhere.  And there have been dozens of different kinds of approaches to improving the human relationship with the ocean so that it can continue to provide the air we breathe

Vet in Loreto

I went from that Los Angeles meeting down to Loreto, the oldest Spanish settlement in Baja California.  As I revisited some of the projects we funded directly and through our Loreto Bay Foundation, I was reminded of just how diverse those approaches can be—and how it is hard to anticipate what might be needed in a community.  One program that continues to thrive is the clinic that provides neutering (and other health) services for cats and dogs—reducing the number of strays (and thus disease, negative interactions, etc.), and in turn, the runoff of waste to the sea, predation on birds and other small animals, and other effects of overpopulation.

Mangroves Planted by TOF

Another project repaired one shade structure and added an additional smaller structure for a school so that children could play outside at any time.  And, as part of our effort to make already permitted development more sustainable, I was pleased to see that the mangroves we helped plant remain in place in Nopolo, south of the old historic town.

Yard Sale at EcoAllianza

Still another project helped Eco-Alianza on whose advisory Board I am proud to sit.  Eco-Alianza is an organization that focuses on the health of Loreto Bay and the beautiful national marine park that lies within. Its activities—even the yard sale that was happening the morning I arrived to visit—are all part of connecting the communities of Loreto Bay to the incredible natural resources on which it depends, and which so delight the fishermen, tourists, and other visitors.  In a former house, they have built a simple but well-designed facility where they conduct classes for 8-12 year olds, test water samples, host evening programs, and convene local leadership.

Loreto is just one small fishing community in the Gulf of California, just one body of water in our global ocean.  But as global as it is, World Oceans Day is as much about these small efforts to improve coastal communities, to educate about the rich diversity of life in the adjacent marine waters and the need to manage it well, and to connect the health of the community to the health of the oceans.  Here at The Ocean Foundation, we are ready for you to tell us what you would like to do for the oceans.

http://www.oceanfdn.org/blog/?p=2203

Celebrating and Funding Environmental Education

It would be brilliant if environmental intelligence simply rose in the minds of all humans, but that isn’t the case. It takes dedicated and committed individuals to expand educational programs that can be absorbed by a broad swath of the population. And it takes funding … of select programs, of staff, of equipment … to facilitate change.

Eco_A_Fundraiser_Ingles_half_invite_2013Eco-Alianza of Loreto celebrates its 6th Anniversary this week – 6 years of dedication to protecting Loreto’s natural environment. To commemorate the occasion, the organization is hosting a fundraiser – a night of cocktails, dinner created by La Mision’s Master Chef, live and silent auctions, a raffle, and dancing – at the Hotel Mision in Loreto, Saturday, the 9th of November, starting at 5:30pm.

The funds raised by this event benefit the Environmental Education Programs for Loreto youth. The evening is made possible by the generous donation of Scott Serven, owner of La Mision, and is the second annual event.

Tickets are on sale for $27.00 and may be ordered online at Eco-Alianza’s website — http://www.ecoalianzaloreto.org – or with Edna Peralta at Eco-Alianza’s headquarters, the Community Center for the Environment on Miguel Hidalgo in downtown Loreto. This will be a great and fun event, and benefit not only the youth, but the entire community of Loreto.

Building a Blueprint for Coastal Community Conservation

[first published by The Ocean Foundation, November 6, 2013]

Imagine ….

Imagine … a cadre of youth educated and dedicated to protecting and nurturing their environment and sharing that knowledge with family and friends …

Imagine … a group of energetic hands-on volunteers committed to solving local issues of water quality, waste management and resource protection …

Imagine … a community center where like-minded individuals come together, a gathering space for researchers, government organizations, local partners and fishermen to chart paths to preserve natural resources and their ways of life …

Imagine …  a staff of talented enthusiastic leaders guiding and directing activities of such a center with outreach programs in support of environmental goals …

Imagine … partners, sponsors, supporters, and Directors with the resources and connections to fund and support a foothold and voice in the stewardship of a wide range of environmental activities …

Imagine … relentless visionaries with tireless energy determined to make a difference, to manifest a dream, in a small seaside city …

Imagine these things … and then stop imagining, because they are real.

CenCoMa Building (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson)

CenCoMa Building (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson)

On October 19, 2013, the Community Center for the Environment, CenCoMA (Centro Comunitario para el Medio Ambiente), in Loreto, BCS, Mexico celebrated its formal dedication. Over 150 people turned out in support of the celebration, which began a blessing by the Padre of Our Lady of Loreto Mission, and was followed by a ribbon cutting by the representatives from the Local government, the Director of the Bay of Loreto National Park, Everardo Mariano Melendez, and Yvo Arias Salorio, Board President.

Delicious food and beverages were served to the enthusiastic guests who toured the new facility.  A large screen display provided a backdrop amongst the café tables set up for the event, with images that illustrated some of the perils that challenge the local environment The dedication solidified the physical framework of an on-going dream, where making a difference isn’t just something spoken, but actually taking place on a day-to-day basis.

Advisory Board Members/ Richard Jackson, Jill Jackson, Charles Mitchel and Roberto Lopez (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson).

Advisory Board Members/ Richard Jackson, Jill Jackson, Charles Mitchel and Roberto Lopez (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson).

At the heart of CenCoMA is Eco-Alianza de Loreto, founded in 2007 by a group of concerned citizens and friends in the Loreto municipality to support smart growth strategies in response to rapid development by outside interests.  Over the past six years, Eco-Alianza has strived to establish a sustainable community devoted to conserving the abundance and diversity of terrestrial and marine life.

In less than a year since it’s opening, CenCoMA has already become a valued asset to the community of Loreto. The Center is strategically located in the center of town and was made possible through a gift by the Linda and Anthony Kinninger Trust.  Renovations converted the property to offices and a public meeting space and were made possible by a donation from Engineer Hugo Quintero Maldonado, founding President of Eco-Alianza, Kathryn and Charles Mitchell, and an anonymous donation from a U.S. foundation.

The Center currently houses a Water Quality Lab for testing and office space for a professional staff of eight who conduct programs that include:

  • A Campaign for a Clean Loreto
  • Citizen Monitoring of our Marine Environment
  • Loretanos for a “Sea Full of Life”
  • Sustainable Fisheries Project
  • The Loreto Watershed Conservation Campaign
  • The Environmental Leadership Club
  • Environmental Education for Loreto Youth and Community
  • Outreach programs to celebrate conservation days, such as Earth Day, World Ocean Day, World Environment Day, World Water Day, Recycling Day

Along with those programs, Eco-Alianza is working with Loreto’s decision-makers to create responsible growth policies, a watershed conservation ecological ordinance, and fisheries regulations.  It is hoped that these endeavors will become an example for other coastal communities to follow worldwide.

Caption:  Tony Kinninger, Kenneth Quintero, Hugo Quintero, Lorenzo Ochoa, Everardo Mariano, Linda Kinninger, Horacio Cabrera, Jorge Magdaleno, Antonio Verdugo, Mayra Gpe Lopez Lemus, Lizandro Soto, and Lizandro Soto Martinez (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson).

Caption: Tony Kinninger, Kenneth Quintero, Hugo Quintero, Lorenzo Ochoa, Everardo Mariano, Linda Kinninger, Horacio Cabrera, Jorge Magdaleno, Antonio Verdugo, Mayra Gpe Lopez Lemus, Lizandro Soto, and Lizandro Soto Martinez (Photo Credit: Rick Jackson).

Eco-Alianza has embarked on collaborative effort to establish a “Sister Park” program to advance eco-tourism and job opportunity in the region.  To support this endeavor, it has partnered with the Bay of Loreto National Park, the Channel Islands National Park, the University of California Santa Barbara, and the Nature Conservancy.

The Center allows Eco-Alianza to expand its program capability, visibility, and outreach.  The Center will serve as a permanent symbol of conservation and preservation for the entire Loreto region for generations to come.

The Ocean Foundation (TOF) has been an integral part of Eco-Alizana since its inauguration.  TOF President, Mark Spalding and Vice-President of Programs, Kama Dean are members of the Eco-Alianza Advisory Board.  TOF has supported educational programs, the annual calendar, and general activities.  The original funding for the “Pride Campaign,” as well as a fisheries program begun by RARE Conservation were provided by TOF.  Advisory support was provided for CenCoMA.

Phase II of the expansion of the CenCoMA facility has just begun.  A fundraising campaign is underway to build a Natural History Museum and an Interpretive Learning Center on the property to support of the Bay of Loreto National Park and the Sierra de la Giganta region.

To continue the expansion of CenCoMA and help further the efforts of Eco-Alianza and its programs, your help is needed.  To find our more information about Eco-Alianza’s programs, or to make a donation, please visit Eco-Alianza’s website at: www.ecoalianzaloreto.org.

Donations are tax deductible in the U.S.A. or through our fiscal sponsor in the U.S.A., The Ocean Foundation. Click here to donate!

Thank you for being part of our dream.

Teaching Children to Love the Sea

How do you teach someone to love the ocean? 

We know that to love something means to embrace, cherish and protect it.  One of the keys to developing a sense of love and understanding is a sound educational program.  To instill  sense of caring for our seas is critical to the health of our blue planet’s waters.

In the small Baja California Sur city of Loreto, a community-based environmental group, Eco-Alianza, continues to spearhead educational programs for the local youth.   They are committed to introducing the sea in all her aspects – above and below the surface – and the problems facing her – with hands on programs. Theses programs serve multiple purposes:

  • To awaken a deeper understanding and love of the sea that supports their community and lifestyles.
  • To introduce more effective ways to care for the resource, such as proper trash handling and problems associated with plastic
  • To clarify problems associated with overfishing and capture of protected species, such as turtles.

“Cursos Naturales” is one of Eco-Alizana’s programs.  Organized and taught by course director, Edna Peralta, the curriculum familiarizes children 8-12 years old with the treasures of the sea.  The study program is funded in part by local fundraising efforts and by The Ocean Foundation, a Washington, D.C. based philanthropic organization dedicated to reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments.

During the course of study, the students were introduced to sea kayaking, experienced whales and dolphins, and spent time simply playing on the beach.  These activities were mixed with selected readings, learning games and lectures.  Toward the end of the classes, EcoAlianza paired with Loreto Art School.   Easels were set up, paints provided, and each student was asked to paint a picture of what they had learned and loved.

At the end of their course, a celebration was held in the newly dedicated Community Center for the Environment – CenCoMA of Eco-Alianza.   Family members, friends and community members attended the event which included sharing and song.  Each student stood in turn and gave a short explanation of what was represented in their painting.  Ms. Peralta asked pointed questions, such as, “Why do you love the whales?”  “What threats face them?”  and “What can you do to help protect them?”  Without falter, each student provided answers that reflected an absorbed knowledge base that was now integral to their belief system. “What makes me the happiest,” Ms. Peralta shared with her students, “is when you go home and teach your family and friends what you have learned here.”

What they have learned they now share with their peers, their extended family, and their community – an extension of their education.  Their voices become a guiding force for tomorrow.  These young new stewards carry the future health of our oceans through their knowledge, their actions, and their commitment to protect the seas.

Eco-Alianza de Loreto, A.C. is a grassroots nonprofit organization committed to protecting the coastal, marine and terrestrial eco-systems of the Loreto region, engaging different sectors of Loreto society, carrying out education and outreach campaigns, promoting and conducting research and actively engaging the region’s decision makers.