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

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

We Begin Again – Welcome 2015

We Begin Again

We Begin Again

With open arms, open hearts and (hopefully) open minds, we begin again. The calendar shifts, we turn the page, and leave the successes and wreckages of the past year behind us.

In the New Year – hopes awaken, dreams rekindle, and we give ourselves the opportunity to peer into the future with fresh eyes. Slate clean. Begin again.

What dreams and hopes do you have for 2015? What challenges are you willing to embrace?

Stormy December The year began for me, south of the American border with rain and dark clouds – unusual for Loreto, BCS, Mexico. Today, the second day, blustery winds whip the seas into a froth of whitecaps. Butterflies tangle in the winds and birds make fast for secure branches. Like my life at times, holding on tight with an illusion of security, or letting go .. flying freely .. letting change be the watchword.

For me, this year, my intention is to let go of all things that keep me small ..
And to embrace and celebrate my personal authenticity …

Welcome 2015.

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

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.

Swimmers take your mark!

The last 1/4 mile …..

The second annual swim race from Picazone to Isla Coronado took place yesterday, 13 October 2012 just north of Loreto. One hundred forty four (144) people from as far as Mexico City and Ashland, Oregon, signed up to swim. The day before the race, the winds picked up and blew through the day and into the night, and were unabated in the morning. 20/25mph constant with gusts in the plus 30 range whipped the sea into a frothy stew of whitecaps breaking on top of 5′ ground swells. Perfect conditions (NOT) for a 5.5 km swim between the peninsula and the tiny islet (oldest volcano in Baja) where currents and tides make for a difficult passage even on a glassy day.

The race co-ordinator did his best to discourage swimmers who were not in extremely great condition, trained for the race and confident in their ability to make the crossing. In spite of his warnings, 122 men, women and teens jumped into the warm turbulent sea and began the journey across.

Pangas, sports boats and kayaks offered support and encouragement and pulled swimmers who became overwhelmed by the conditions onto their boats.

I had earlier decided to SUP (stand up paddle) and registered accordingly. There were three others set to paddle – but either did not show up because of conditions or did not enter the water. Maybe smarter than me 🙂

My initial goal was the first flag. Once I managed that I thought, well, the second flag. This all the while with a backup plan of turning around and heading back to shore (as my girlfriend had requested that I do). But once I passed the second flag I was, okay .. now to the third flag. Of course, by the third marker, the seas had kicked up in the 5’/6′ range, and while standing up on my board I’d find myself in the trough of these large groundswells with no clear view of the horizon.

When the second 6 footer tossed me into the sea, I switched from SUP to SDP (sit down paddle). Even with a reduced face to the blasting wind, I was being pushed south (had to go north to make the island) faster than I could paddle. I also found it near impossible to keep the nose of the board into the wind — finally, I put my left leg into the water – an extra rudder, and while paddling with my leg created drag and slowed me down (more), at least I was heading in the right direction. Several adjustments, like pulling up leg and using foot only as a directional rudder until the wind took the nose again, allowed for forward motion. Every muscle in my body was screaming at me – and I just dug down and found more to pull from.

I encountered a young woman swimming alone. She looked up in a 360 motion – like where is everybody? I paddled toward here and paddled near her while she made her way past the rocks into the cove and onto the beach.

When I reached the sand, it was almost anti-climactic. Like – where’s the battle now? I rang the victory bell – signed in – and photographed other swimmers making their way.

To each and everyone who completed yesterday’s difficult crossing – Congratulations! And even for those who were turned back, congratulations on your efforts!

Can’t wait for next year!

Heaven’s Palette

After the rain : and before the next. The sky breaks out her palette of colors beyond the brush and pigment. Hues and shades that catch in the throat with their beauty. A veritable cloak of golden light that beckons, woos, dances on the edges of the mind.

Under my feet, the sand, the desert – already paying hommage to the life gift of water from the earlier deluge. Everywhere the scent of moisture. Pools, small lakes of water. Arroyos that have found the sea after too many months of drought. The rushing waters sing with their ebb and flow …..