Loreto Beyond Borders: Protecting our One Ocean
Eco-Alianza has reached beyond the Mexican/USA border to initiate a Sister Park/Sister Reserve
The relationship will be between The Bay of Loreto National Park and the Channel Islands National Park. While not the first “Sister” relationship between the two countries, it is notable in that both parks are ocean based, both have similar issues of geography and sea life, and both stand to benefit from shared eco-based strategies and scientific research.
In 2014, Eco-Alianza hosted representatives from the Channel Islands National Park and The Bay of Loreto National Park, in a one-week exploration of an international agreement between the parties. The group included stakeholders and research scientists (a full list of participants is at the end of this article) who spent three days touring and trekking the five islands of the Bay of Loreto National Park.
Here’s what they discovered: The two parks are uniquely aligned, and share a number of marine, cultural, ecological, and geological characteristics that make them good candidates to work together as Sister Parks. Both parks:
- Consist of five islands with significant wilderness values;
- Contain ocean and land-bridge islands;
- Hosts endemic species that have evolved in genetic isolation;
- Share similar coastal and terrestrial characteristics;
- Provide exceptional opportunities for scientific research and exchange of conservation experience;
- Harbor important feeding grounds for endangered populations of blue and humpback whales;
- Support outdoor eco-touristic opportunities crucial to local communities;
- Face management challenges that are similar, and include visitation and tourism activities, sustainable economic development, and balanced conservation objectives.
The Sister Park/Sister Reserve relationship, that will soon include the University of Baja California Sur and other international scientific research institutions, will provide for the exchange of experiences and information to help protect and conserve these coastal, marine and island habitats.
The development of a sustainable community – the livelihood of Loreto – rests on the preservation and enhancement of the eco-system.
Working together, the two parks can expand their research, improve resource conservation, enhance public education and provide job training.
Eco-Alianza initiated the proposed relationship based on the 2012 Sister Park Agreement between the United States and Mexico. That agreement provides for the cooperation in the management and conservation of National Parks and Natural Protected Areas. An additional proposed and pending trilateral agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the United States would provide added conservation for island habitats.
As the facilitating partner, Eco-Alianza oversees both governmental and non-governmental concerns. An agreement, signed in February 2014, between the Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto and Eco-Alianza de Loreto, A.C., provides the framework for collaboration for mutual benefit, and to foster cross-border cooperation to promote social enterprise, conservation education, scientific research and cultural exchange.
Eco-Alianza’s mission is to promote park conservation through education and training; its objective is to support the creation of a voluntary framework for cooperation and coordination concerning the commemoration, conservation and preservation of our wilderness areas.
One of the keystones of the program is the creation of an Interpretive Learning Center as a permanent display of Loreto’s natural and cultural heritage. The Learning Center represents Phase II of the development of Centro Comunitario para el Medio Ambiente (CenCoMA). Also known as the Community Center for the Environment, the expansion will establish an educational and learning center for the community of Loreto and her visitors, and serve as the “hub” for the Sister Park /Sister Reserve program.
The weeklong meeting culminated with a Stakeholder meeting at Eco-Alianza’s headquarters, CenCoMA. It was agreed by all parties that the opportunities for a partnership are boundless, and everyone anticipates finalizing the general Agreements that will make a long-term partnership possible. Eco-Alianza is focused to that end and will provide updates throughout the process.
The projected outcome of the Sister Park/Sister Reserve program will be a more prosperous and sustainable community with recharged fisheries.
One of the goals is to facilitate the transformation of Loreto from a fishing community to an eco-tourism community, and to awaken the community to the value of their greatest natural, economic and social asset, the Bay of Loreto National Park.
Participants in the weeklong exploration of of a Sister Park/Sister Reserve relationship included the following Stakeholders and scientists:
Ing. Hugo Quintero Maldonado, President/CEO & Co-founder of Eco-Alianza (who directed the event), Ocean. Alejandro González Leija, Director of the Bay of Loreto National Park and his staff, the directors and staff of the Channel Islands National Park, including Russell Galipeau, Superintendent, Lyndal Laughrin, Ph.D., Reserve Manager, U.C. Santa Cruz Island, Peggy Fiedler, Ph.D., Director, University of California Natural Reserve System, visiting scientists David Kushner, Marine Biologist, Channel Islands National Park, Kate Roney Faulkner, Chief, Natural Resources Management, Jon Rebman, Ph.D., Curator of Botany, San Diego Natural History Museum, Don Croll, Ph.D., professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Michael Glassow, Ph. D., Research Professor, Anthropology, UC Santa Barbara, Winifred Frick, Ph.D., Research Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, U.C. Santa Cruz, Cecilia Blasco, Director, Coastal Marine Wildlife Program, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, A.C., Charles Mitchell, Marine Biologist, Advisory Board Eco-Alianza, Jason Vorderstrasse, Chief, Political/Economic Section, U.S. Consulate General, Tijuana, Marla Daily, Anthropologist, Santa Cruz Island Foundation, Kirk Connally, Master Mariner, Island Packers, Lorenzo Ochoa Silva, Regidor Municipal de Loreto, Arq. Aarón Davis Green, Subdelegado Regional Loreto, FONATUR, Lic. en C.P. Maria Quintero Maldonado, Executive Director, Ocean. Héctor Trinidad Meléndez, Coordinator Marine and Coastal Conservation, Eco-Alianza de Loreto.A.C., Richard Kiy, President, International Community Foundation, Norma Garcia, President, Loreto Restaurant Association, Richard Jackson, Wildlife Photographer, Johnny Friday, Baja Productions (Natural History Films), Linda Kinninger, Co-founder, Board of Directors, served as Event Chair with Anthony Kinninger and Kathryn Mitchell.