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January 10, 2012

Treading Softly on the Baja California Coastline

A Few Simple Tips to Reduce Your Impacts on Your Next and Future Trips Down South
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Everyone needs to play their part to keep Baja wild

It’s is that time of year again when Aleutian-born swells march down North America’s west coast and collapse on Baja California’s groomed points and beaches creating some of the best surf in the hemisphere. Dirt-road-worthy rigs from San Diego to Nevada City to Vancouver are packed to the brim with all of the necessities for a prolonged desert stay and head south of the border. Some folks congregate with friends at better known spots on the coast for a few days of shared waves and campfire laughter. Others seek solitude and isolation and venture far into the wilderness.

Regardless of destination and purpose, everyone has an impact during their Baja adventure. Everyone can make the decision whether that impact is positive or negative and both can be contagious. The best thing a travelling surfer can do on the Baja coast is follow some best practices to minimize their impact on the local environment and spread the word to others so they do the same. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow on your Baja visits.

·         Do not remove any plant species. This includes dead Agave that you might want to burn for firewood. Even the dead plants are important components of the desert ecosystem as they provide habitat for birds and bugs (essential bottom of the food chain type stuff) and play important roles in erosion control. And it’s illegal.

·         Manage your human waste. It is not only disrespectful to other campers but can become a health issue if you do not properly manage your human waste. Dig a hole several feet deep away from camp and use it for the duration of your stay. This is your new bathroom. Burn your toilet paper. Cover your waste with a shovel-full of earth after each go. Bring a magazine. No need to light a candle.

·         Pack your trash. Take home every bit of everything you brought. Do not leave a trace. Dispose your trash at a facility that has recycling capabilities.

·         Spread the word among your fellow campers. Do not be embarrassed to tell someone that there are ways to reduce impacts. Most of the time people simply don’t know and that’s ok. Be an educator.

·         Have a positive attitude. The fact of the matter is that there are more people than ever surfing in the United States and many will venture south to your favorite spots. Rather than pour salt on their parade with a sour attitude, help them make sure that their visit is as sustainable as yours. And for those in the parade - keep your crew simple. You will have more fun, more food and more waves with a couple of buddies rather than with your entire college fraternity or the members of your email blast list.

We all need to take accountability for maintaining the places that we love. With just a little bit more effort we can ensure that our favorite Baja spots, regardless if it is an obvious point or a secret cove, can sustain our visits and continue to deliver the beauty and pleasure we seek. Enjoy!