By Yehuda Ben-Hamo, WILDCOAST Conservation Coordinator

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Saving Baja Article 7

Spanning over 800 miles from the US-Mexico border to Cabo San Lucas, the Baja California Peninsula reveals unparalleled beauty and endless opportunities for exploration. Along Baja’s rugged 1,900 miles of coastline, you will find a treasure trove of nature’s finest work. Here, the landscape is an artist’s palette, painted with a breathtaking array of colors, textures, and life.

 

The nutrient-rich waters off the coast provide habitat for abundant marine life, including sharks, tuna, common and bottlenose dolphins, lobster, sea turtles, sea lions, rays and more. During migration seasons, majestic humpback and blue whales are often seen. The Pacific coastal lagoons of Laguna San Ignacio and Bahía Magdalena serve as essential nursing and breeding habitats for endangered Eastern Pacific Gray Whales.

Baja’s arid landscape is home to iconic terrestrial species like the Baja California tree frog, pronghorn antelope, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, the endangered Belding’s yellowthroat warbler and unique desert flora like the Cirios (aka the boojum tree), and one of the tallest cactus species globally known as the giant cardon cactus.

Over the past 20 years, in order to protect the globally important coastal ecosystems and wildlife habitats of the Baja California Peninsula, WILDCOAST has spearheaded a multifaceted approach in partnership with local fishing and ranching communities, government resource agencies and the private sector to help safeguard millions of acres of stunningly beautiful coastline and desert wilderness. Through utilizing a combination of conservation easements, federal maritime concession zones, and private land acquisitions, WILDCOAST established and permanently protected the 39.5 mile, 51,939-acre Valle de los Cirios WILDCOAST Reserve, the largest private coastal conservation reserve in North America.

Down the coast, WILDCOAST, in partnership with local communities, the Mexican National Park Service (CONANP) and partner conservation organizations, has helped permanently protect over 483 miles of shoreline and restore over 271 acres of mangrove habitat surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Laguna San Ignacio, the gray whale sanctuary. WILDCOAST also helps to manage and protect 14,300 square miles of deserts, coastal areas, islands and mangroves within the iconic Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve that occupies much of the central portion of the Baja California Peninsula.

Achieving these conservation milestones would be impossible without the support of local communities. This is why WILDCOAST collaborates directly with local residents to support conservation stewardship, provide training in ecotourism development and management, and more recently support blue jobs in mangrove restoration and coral reef protection.

For three decades, WILDCOAST has been on the frontlines of defending Baja’s critical natural resources, yet the challenges remain. Climate change, coastal development and unsustainable visitation practices continue to endanger these precious ecosystems.

WILDCOAST is rallying support to continue conserving Baja’s iconic coastal ecosystems for generations to come.

You can take action by becoming an ocean guardian! Donate now at http://www.wildcoast.org.

Join WILDCOAST for an exclusive VIP trip to Laguna San Ignacio, March 5-9, 2024! Witness a once-in-a-lifetime up-close encounter with the majestic gray whale in the lagoon that WILDCOAST helps protect!! Contact us http://www.wildcoast.org.

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Esteban Villanueva
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