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December 06, 2011

2011 WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE Accomplishments

To date, WiLDCOAST has conserved more than two million acres of coastal wildlands and wildlife habitat.
Image by Ralph Lee Hopkins. Cabos San Lucas, Gulf of California in Baja California Sur, Mexico

During 2011, we have:

·      Protected 4,371 acres and 2.3 miles of coastline along the Valle de los Cirios Pacific Coast through direct land purchases and conservation easement agreements.

·      Worked with local residents to successfully halt a proposed cruise ship terminal in the Barra de Potosi coastal lagoon in Guerrero that threatened the area’s extensive mangrove forest.

·      Conserved 77.7 miles of shoreline around Laguna San Ignacio through an innovative partnership with Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Natural Areas.

·      Carried out an intensive national and international media campaign to protect the sensitive Cabo Pulmo coral reef by pressuring decision makers to cancel the Cabo Cortes mega-project. Media outputs included 73 web articles, featuring front page Huffington Post (Green Section) and front page Yahoo Mexico, 13 prime-time national television segments, 24 newspaper articles (in the US, Mexico, and Spain), 9 radio interviews, 6 local TV segments, for a total of 125 media hits. The campaign to protect Cabo Pulmo reached an estimated audience of 200 million. 

·      Secured a $300,000 grant for the City of San Diego to improve the Otay Valley Regional Park.

·      Organized photo exhibitions in the Federal Senate and Legislative Palace in Mexico City to highlight the importance of the Cabo Pulmo coral reef that led legislators to pass official motions against the construction of Cabo Cortes and pressure Mexico’s environmental protection agency to revoke the project’s permits.

·      Provided 300 elementary school students with hands-on environmental education in the Otay Valley Regional Park and the Sweetwater Marsh.  

·      Highlighted the need to conserve Bahia Magdalena’s rich yet fragile mangrove ecosystems through Mexican national television reports that reached an estimated 20 million viewers.

·      Mobilized communities in Baja California Sur to address the regions’ most pressing conservation needs by developing a network of WiLDCOAST “chapters” in Punta Abreojos, Bahia Asunción, and Bahia Magdalena.

·      Led the second binational Tijuana River Action Month through which 14 organizations from the U.S. and Mexico held cleanup and stewardship activities that brought together 4,229 participants to improve 3.25 acres of habitat and remove 63,476 lbs. of ocean bound trash from the region’s largest watershed.

·      Coordinated 10 cleanup and restoration projects in the Otay River Valley with 392 volunteers who collected 5,500 lbs. of trash and helped to restore 83 acres of riparian habitat.

·      Broadcast the “Don’t Eat Sea Turtle” message through 22 media outlets, in six cities throughout Mexico, and reached an estimated one million people. In response to the campaign the Archbishop of Acapulco called on parishioners to stop consuming sea turtle eggs and meat.

·      Mobilized key stakeholders in the Los Cabos region to oppose the destruction of the coral reef in Cabo Pulmo by rejecting the Cabo Cortés project.

·      Launched the Blue Ocean Film Festival in Mexico in order to inspire people to take action to protect the coast and ocean. Over 1,500 people in Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Bahia Magdalena, La Paz, Los Cabos, Cabo Pulmo, Ensenada, and Mexico City attended a total of 21 tour events. 

·      Supported the reintroduction of California Condors to their native range in Baja California. In 2011, a condor chick was born in the wild, bringing the Baja California population to 25 birds.

·      Mobilized residents, researchers, and government officials to support the protection of sea turtles by organizing the first Sea Turtle Festival in Acapulco.

·      Trained ecotourism guides in Bahia Magdalena in proper techniques for safe boat handling during whalewatching tours in order to reduce impacts to gray whale mothers and their calves.

·      Hosted the 8th Annual Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival and Surf Contest that featured over 150 contestants from five countries and over 600 attendees. The event raised nearly $25,000 for conservation.