Caring for the People of Loreto

If we are going to protect Loreto and this One Ocean, we see now more than ever 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.

Photo courtesy of Richard Jackson

As reported to Eco-Alianza’s big-hearted supporters earlier this month, Eco-Alianza’s fundraising effort on behalf of the Temporary Food Security Program for Unemployed Workers (due to the Pandemic) was matched 2:1 in collaboration with the International Community Foundation (ICF) www.icfdn.org. Eco-Alianza is pleased to advise we can now reveal that ICF’s anonymous challenge donor is Christy Walton, who for decades has generously supported sustainable community programs, especially in Baja California Sur. Learn more about Christy, her vision and mission, and Christy’s philanthropy, at www.ialumbra.com .

The kindness and generosity to the Temporary Food Security Program has given hope and optimism to all Loretanos, and Eco-Alianza is incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support and for your trust in us to carry forth your intent to care for the people of Loreto.

We reported that during its first month, the food voucher program provided 1,122 workers and their “member families” with twice-monthly despensas (food “pantries”) containing 21 types of food and cleaning products, and that going forward the despensas will contain 24 products. We mentioned that funding projections were being calculated for the balance of the temporary program, which will continue through the end of August. Thanks to Christy Walton, Hugo Quintero’s projections indicate the program’s outreach will nearly double again, to 2,116 families. The average family size of the program’s member families is 3.9, meaning critical nutritional support is being provided to more than 8,250 Loretanos.

During the pandemic, Christy Walton’s support of BCS families has extended to communities in all five municipalities, with numerous groups and their programs benefitting from the $500,000 USD gift Christy contributed through her 2:1 “challenge match.” Learn more about the alliance of participating groups by visiting https://www.acbcs.org.mx/en .

 

Eco-Alianza Executive President Hugo Quintero states “In our interactions with our program’s beneficiary members, all of them have expressed sincere gratitude to the generous donors who made this happen. For them the help has brought hope for their families in a time of high uncertainty.” Eco-Alianza Treasurer Linda Kinninger also expresses her thanks, pointing out that working cooperatively with the state and local government, and other local groups, Eco-Alianza was able to play a critical role supporting workers who became unemployed through no fault of their own.

“We expect to continue our working partnerships with the municipality and with other groups as tourists return later this summer and fall and as the temporary food security program winds down,” Linda says. “We’ve been honored to partner with Eco-Alianza’s donors, ICF, and Christy Walton to provide support in such an impactful way for all the member families in our beloved Loreto.” As Loreto establishes a “new normal,” she says, “we will be there to continue embracing sustainability and to celebrate with the community the unique natural resources of the region.”

“It can’t be overstated how deeply grateful we are for Christy Walton’s overwhelming commitment to the residents of Baja California Sur, and especially to the working families of Loreto,” Linda says. “Over several decades, Christy time and again has shown a deep appreciation for the culture and the traditions of the region, and has financially supported innovative solutions to sustain the region and its people through the 21st century and beyond. By issuing this extraordinarily generous fundraising challenge match, Christy helped ensure that nonprofit organizations would put forth maximum effort to provide nutrition and health care for the people of the region,” Linda says. “We’ve been so proud to partner with Christy and with ICF in this program, and are deeply touched every single day as we witness the appreciation in the faces of Loreto’s families and in the family pride of its capable workers.”

Additional donations to the food security program may be made online through the Eco-Alianza website at ecoalianzaloreto.org . Individual questions are welcome and may be emailed to info@ecoalianzaloreto.org .

Bay of Loreto National Park Receives CONANP’s Top Ranking in
Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Mexico’s Protected Natural Areas

In the first week of May, the Bay of Loreto National Park received an amazing distinction when México’s National Commission on Protected Natural Areas (CONANP) and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) released the results of a long-awaited comprehensive evaluation of management effectiveness of the country’s Protected Natural Areas (ANP’s).

Out of 129 ANP’s evaluated, only eight nationwide received the highest management effectiveness rating, that of “sobresaliente” or Outstanding. The Bay of Loreto National Park (PNBL) was one of the eight, and the only one in its region, Baja Peninsula and North Pacific. PNBL, in fact, was one of only two national parks in the country to receive the highest rating. The other protected areas to receive the sobresaliente distinction are Biosphere Reserves or other types of designated protected areas. The other national park to receive the sobresaliente rating is the Volcán Nevado de Colima National Park in the Western and Central Pacific Region.

México has gone through a decades-long process to develop CONANP’s evaluation process, based on information gleaned from several international conservation-oriented conventions. The permanent evaluation system, called i-efectividad, is a combination and revision of four international methodologies from diverse countries. The process was finalized in 2017, began to be implemented in early 2018, and this first round of evaluations was completed in April 2020, taking into consideration several years of data. The evaluation process is now permanent, and will be repeated periodically.

The i-efectividad evaluation process considers five major components: Context and Planning; Administrative and Financial; Uses and Benefits; Governance and Social Participation; and Management. The five components are further broken down to evaluate 48 indicators for each Protected Natural Area, divided among the five components. The evaluation results in an overall Index of Effectiveness for each ANP.

The 95-page Report of the Evaluation of Management Effectiveness of ANPs of México shows results for each ANP, and its score for each of the five evaluation components. The report is available here:

https://simec.conanp.gob.mx/efectividad.php

PNBL’s director, Israel Popoca, said he is proud of the Park’s 11 staff members but is also quick to credit the community and all users of the Park for its success. “The Bay of Loreto National Park is not only the employees of CONANP, it is all the people who use the Park and value it,” he said.

Israel called Eco-Alianza “key partners in the management of this ANP,” citing its “work in environmental education, water quality testing, fostering the identity of the local community with the Park, being the link with the resident community, supporting monitoring activities, and showing the Park’s biodiversity through Richard Jackson’s magnificent images, among other things.”

Service Providers Begin to Welcome Tourists and Part-Year Residents Back to Loreto

Photo courtesy of Richard Jackson

Just as communities in the United States and Canada are beginning to ease Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Loreto and other BCS communities are taking concrete steps to create a “new normal” that includes tourism that embraces pandemic safety while also allowing access. We reported in the first week of June that the “Punto Limpio” program for restaurants and hotels already had begun training programs for hospitality workers throughout BCS. More than 95 businesses in Loreto already had registered.

Restaurants and hotels are now opening up with limited seating and occupancy restrictions and the “ley seca” (dry law) has been eased, allowing beer and liquor purchases from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Takeout dining service was already widely available, and now dine-in service is beginning in more and more restaurants each week, currently allowing seating at up to 30 percent of a restaurant’s previous capacity. Restaurant and hotel association personnel have said the health and safety training programs have been extremely popular, to protect workers as well as patrons.

Alaska Airlines is currently offering service to Loreto from Los Angeles on Thursdays and Saturdays, with a special one-way fare of $119 USD. Visit www.AlaskaAir.com for reservations and for information on airport and flight procedures.

And while you’re making reservations, please mark your calendar for Eco-Alianza’s two signature events, the One Ocean Film Festival (now slated for October 16 and 17) and the 13th Anniversary GALA, on November 14, at Hotel La Misión.

Staff and volunteers are busily securing donated items and experiences for the GALA live auction, which supports all Eco-Alianza programs. If you have a suggestion or would like to discuss donating an item or experience, please email Mark_Hufford@yahoo.com .

And here’s a special sneak preview just to get you thinking. If it’s a unique tranquil setting you’re after, you’ll want to secure your vacation stay at Elena and John Thompson’s Desert Paradise Estate Home with private pool at Anza-Borrego Springs, CA. The renovation of the nearby Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center was featured in the June newsletter of the UC Natural Reserve System (visit https://ucnrs.org/buildout-reshapes-social-club-into-premier-desert-science-center/).

We will have many more tempting items and experiences, so be sure to mark your calendar so we can personally welcome you back to beautiful Loreto!

UNESCO World Heritage Marine Sites Offer Both
Hope and Concern During the Covid-19 Pandemic

As we reported earlier this month, this year’s World Oceans Day celebration on June 8 was an entirely virtual event, offering a stark contrast to the usual large gathering and conference hosted by the United Nations. Some of the leading voices for ocean conservation presented inspiring online speeches as well as reason for concern, given the state of ocean pollution and threats like climate change and overfishing.

A recent communication from UNESCO’s World Heritage Marine Programme reports:

“As nearly half of the global population went into lockdown in recent months, rare wildlife sightings emerged in the most unexpected places. CO2 emissions dropped by 8% since the start of the year, the largest decrease ever recorded. Nature seemed to finally take a breath from the relentless human pressures that have been the primary reason for biodiversity reduction and habitat loss for at least a century.

“Yet, the first online meeting with the local guardians of UNESCO’s 50 World Heritage marine sites (since the COVID-19 pandemic) shows there is little to celebrate. For many marine World Heritage sites, the abrupt halt in tourism revenues paints a bleak, uncertain outlook for the future. For most, it reveals how a sustainably protected, resilient ocean depends on people as much as nature.”

As we hope you’re aware, the Bay of Loreto National Park is part of the “Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California,” one of the planet’s 50 Marine World Heritage Sites. For more information, and up-to-date news on the World Heritage Marine Programme, visit: http://whc.unesco.org/en/marine-programme/

Education Outreach Continues Despite the Lockdown

Eco-Alianza staff photo
Educational outreach provides information on nutrition and hygiene during the pandemic.

Although schools have been closed in Loreto and elsewhere during the Covid-19 lockdown, Eco-Alianza Education Program Coordinator Alma Rico has been using social media to reach out with conservation-oriented messaging and activities.

During the month of May, Alma said, the Education staff published activities through Facebook and other venues with the theme of an ongoing Earth Day Celebration. Activities for various age levels included reading, drawing, and an invitation to cook popcorn with the family and enjoy films and documentaries with environmental themes.

Eco-Alianza staff photo
Alma Rico’s cooking videos use items from the despensas to create easy, nutritious meals.

Alma also mentions that in June Eco-Alianza invited friends and supporters to participate in photography activities centered around the investigation of species of local flora and fauna. More than 100 local families have taken part in the photography activities, she said.

In addition to Eco-Alianza’s Facebook page, Alma and the Education staff published how-to videos on the Facebook page of Eco-Alianza’s Food Security Program. Videos described how to make the most of the food provided in the despensas to member families. Instructional videos included several different recipes, data on why these foods were chosen, and important nutritional information. Alma said those videos, as well as the food security program in general, have received much appreciation and good comments from the program members and from the community in general.

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