On April 24, Eco-Alianza hosted the Third Annual “One Ocean Film Festival” on the elegant grounds of Rancho El Jaral overlooking the beautiful Gulf of California and Parque Nacional Bahía de Lore, our very special place on Earth we all work to conserve and protect.
More than 125 supporters enjoyed an outdoor program of nature-related films and presentations after an enjoyable social time and delicious meal served by culinary sponsor, Hotel La Misión Loreto. While following all COVID safety protocols, participants at the fundraising event enjoyed mingling in an outdoor setting. As a result of the generosity of Eco-Alianza’s supporters, attending or absent, sufficient funds were raised to support Environmental Education programs for 2021.
Although Eco-Alianza's traditional anniversary GALA wasn't possible this year due to Covid-19 precautions, an outdoor awards ceremony last month honored Trudi Angell, this year's recipient of Eco-Alianza's Environmental Stewardship Award (commonly referred to as “Conservationist of the Year”).
As reported in our September Soundings, because of Covid-19 precautions, Eco-Alianza's 13th Anniversary will be celebrated along with next year's 14th Anniversary GALA in November of 2021 at the Hotel La Mision. Proceeds from the GALA normally provide the majority of funding for all Eco-Alianza conservation and education programs, so to raise the necessary program funding for the coming year, we are currently holding an Online Fund Drive that officially wraps up on October 31.
For the last six months, Eco-Alianza's employees, donors, and volunteers have played a critical role in seeing Loreto through an extraordinary time – the sudden exodus of most part-year Loreto residents, rampant unexpected unemployment, and the uneasy arrival of the Covid pandemic. At its peak, Eco-Alianza's Temporary Food Security Program for Unemployed Workers was providing twice-monthly food “despensas” to 2,300 local families. With an average of 4.0 people per family served, that's 9,200 people, or roughly half of Loreto's population.
If we are going to protect Loreto and this One Ocean, we see now more than ever that we cannot just treat the symptoms. The center of it all is sustainable economic development and food security. Caring for people and building community through the shared ethic of conservation has been Eco-Alianza's core mission from the beginning.
As we reported to you on May 15, Eco-Alianza's Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program for Unemployed Workers received a huge boost from a 2:1 donation challenge match generously made by an anonymous donor of the International Community Foundation.
Responding to our April 7 request for donations, nearly 300 donors kindly opened their hearts and their wallets to help tour guides, waiters, housekeepers, groundskeepers, entrepreneurs, fishermen, stylists, and a huge array of professionals and laborers who were suddenly unemployed when nearly all part-time residents and tourists left Loreto at the height of this year's tourist season because of the pandemic.
At the height of the tourist season, global emergency measures to counter attack the COVID-19 pandemic have placed Loreto in a vulnerable situation -- during the peak months that our ecotour guides, our hotel workers, restaurant workers, and other service workers rely on to put cash in their savings to survive the quiet summer months that typically have few visitors.
In celebration of this year's Loreto Blue Whale Festival, we spoke with Mariana Salgado, Park Ranger and Biologist for the Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto (PNBL) and also to Bryan Olachea, a Blue Whale researcher who will present “Gigantes del Mar,” a free, bilingual Visiting Scientist talk at the Chili Willy large open-air palapa on the Loreto Malecon, just north of the lighthouse at 5:00 p.m. on March 20.
For two days in January, Loreto was buzzing with the news of a visit to Loreto by former U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The morning of January 21, the photos below were widely circulated on Facebook, and Seven Seas, the yacht owned by director Steven Spielberg, was anchored in the Bay of Loreto National Park.
As part of its One Ocean Initiative, Eco-Alianza earlier this month kicked off a new campaign to engage Loreto's first-line service providers, captains of Pangas, in supporting and implementing the new Management Plan for the Bahia de Loreto National Park (PNBL). The campaign aims also to help promote the business culture and personal brand of the first-line workers – Capitanes Loretanos, who provide their services in the sport fishing and ecotour sectors, and traditionally have served as a magnet for Loreto tourism.