Friend of Loreto and President of the Ocean Foundation, Mark Spalding’s recant of his recent visit to our Pueblo Magico:
It’s no surprise that I have a deep connection with the city of Loreto in Baja California. Ten years ago I went to visit my girlfriend, Val Wilkerson, and left with a house, a decision that I have never regretted. Loreto sits perched at the edge of the Sea of Cortez against a backdrop of the craggy and towering Sierra de la Giganta. Marine and mammal life forms abound.
Aside from it’s natural beauty, Loreto is home to some of the kindest people I have ever known. The original capital of California, the city grew from five founding families,and their descendants carry on on century old practices of family first.
Just before I had been introduced to Loreto, an organization to which I am now an advisor, The Ocean Foundation, had become an integral part of the development of Loreto Bay, billed as a sustainable community to the south of the city proper.
This morning, President of TOF, Mark Spalding, posted a blog piece about Loreto, and if you’d like to know more about his work in and out of our Baja community, please read what he has to share. He provides an overview of the natural resources, their current and threatened state.
Two presentations by
Mark Spalding, President, The Ocean Foundation
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:
- 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.
- 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
Saturday, April 11, 5pm
The Community Center for the Environment
Eco-Alianza Headquarters (CenCoMA)
#3 Miguel Hidalgo esq. Romanita
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
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.
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.
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.
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)
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).
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).
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.