By Bárbara Ramírez / Development and Communications Leader
This article was translated by Amairani Márquez and Manuel Eduardo Mendoza
“Alaska. The Last Frontier” I read on the license plates of the cars when I arrived, and suddenly I was overcome by the emotion of being at one of edges of the world; a place that had remained in my imagination as a mysterious and somewhat exotic land, full of white landscapes, bears, moose, totems and the midnight sun.
Although its climate is cold even in May -or at least for a Mexican accustomed to the Mediterranean climate of Baja California- Alaskans are warm, smiling and very kind people. They made us feel part of the community right away.
But besides living an incredible experience so many miles from home, why did I go to Alaska? On this occasion, I accompanied Terra Peninsular’s Executive Director, César Guerrero, on a trip that had two main objectives:
- Participate in the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival.
- Learn about the outdoor recreational activities of the U.S. Forest Service in Cordova and Wrangell.
The relationship between Terra Peninsular and the city of Cordova has a history. This city -mainly of fishermen and with little more than 2,000 inhabitants- is located in the Copper River Delta which plays a fundamental role for the survival of migratory shorebirds and it is the crown jewel -as the Forest Service calls it- of the migratory route of the western hemisphere.
Along this route, which runs along the western contour of the continent from Alaska to Argentina, there are several stopover site used by birds to feed and rest. Bahía de Todos Santos and San Quintín Bay, where Terra Peninsular works, are one of these stopover sites. These places are indispensable for the survival of migratory shorebirds, but unfortunately, they are disappearing due to the increase of urban development, land use change and pollution. That is why the U.S. Forest Service created the Copper River International Migratory Bird Initiative (CRIMBI) in which the allies of the different countries along this migratory route joined forces -because nature has no borders- to conserve these places and thus guarantee the survival of migratory birds.
In 2017, my colleagues Jorge and Antonieta attended the festival to learn about a festival that is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2020. In 2018, Mirna, the Terra Peninsular Education and Community Outreach Officer, lived for two months in Cordova as part of an exchange of experiences at the US Forest Service offices. Mirna helped to organize the festival activities, learn about how the local community gets involved and benefits from this annual event that represents a capital outflow for the city, and also to learn how the Forest Service designs and carries out materials and activities about the importance of the Copper River Delta. Now Vitza, Recreational Services Officer, has also been in Cordova since April to support the festival and learn about the outdoor recreational activities in Cordova, this knowledge will help to develop a recreational activity plan for the nature reserves of Terra Peninsular.
This year, César was invited as a speaker at the 29th Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival to talk about the work of Terra Peninsular and the importance of San Quintín Bay. During his talk, César highlighted that, although geographically San Quintín and Cordova are remote from each other, migratory birds, their route and CRIMBI unite us and bring us closer together.
In addition, he talked about how the Bird Festival of San Quintín Bay has grown thanks to the exchanges of experiences that members of the team have made and took the opportunity to officially begin the countdown to the 5th Bird Festival of San Quintín Bay on November 8 and 9, 2019.
After visiting Cordova, we traveled to Wrangell: a city where the regulated timber industry is its main source of income. There we learned about the work done by the Forest Service office in that district with respect to recreational activities and alliances with private tourism companies. Its objective is to work with these companies to carry out good practices and offer visitors an unforgettable experience without leaving a trace of their passage through the place so that future visitors can enjoy these natural spaces and feel like they are the first ones to arrive.
These are ideas that Terra Peninsular wants to implement in the natural areas of San Quintín, Valle Tranquilo and Sierra de San Pedro Mártir; therefore, this visit turned out to be of great benefit.
On April 20, Terra Peninsular celebrated 18 years of conserving the natural beauty of Baja California, but now more than ever, we want to thank all those who have joined us over the years because without their support, time and knowledge, we would not have achieved any of our accomplishments.
Special thanks to the Forest Service office and the Cordova Chamber of Commerce, Erin, Sean, Dave, Tanya, Nick, Caitlin, Cathy, Thea; the Wrangell Forest Service office, Joe, Cory, Tory and Martin; and especially Jim Chu, who leads the CRIMBI initiative, he was our guide during the trip and is a great ally for nature conservation.