Our Story

More than 20 years ago there was another plan for San Quintin: a tourism project was planned to be built and surely it would have affected the bay’s pristine beauty.

Terra Peninsular was created with the vision of protecting Punta Mazo, and it was a dream that took more than 10 years to culminate.

Behind that effort was a group of people made up of community members, scientists, conservationists, key stakeholders, and nature lovers who knew the importance of preserving San Quintin.

Photo by Laura Tamayo.

“In the mid-90s a tough test for conservation organizations appeared, now there was a new tourist development in San Quintin Bay. Our victory was resounding. A group of academics elaborated a technical opinion that contrasted the sustainable development of the bay against the negative consequences of the tourism project.”

— Eduardo Palacios, Board member

In the late 1990s, this group of people learned that the Punta Mazo area (also known as La Punta or Punta Final) was going to be destroyed in order to develop a tourism project called Cabo San Quintin that contemplated building a hotel, golf courses, a marina and shopping malls.

Reserva Natural Punta Mazo
Punta Mazo Nature Reserve. Photo by Alejandro Arias.

Although this development would have brought economic benefits to the region, the project put the bay at risk because it did not include actions to preserve the wetlands, volcanoes, wildlife, or natural resources.

The group decided to ally with civil society organizations such as Pro Esteros, Pronatura Noroeste, and The Nature Conservancy to do something about it and find a way to stop the project.

After analyzing the situation, they realized that in order to prevent the area from being destroyed and to guarantee its long-term protection, the solution was to buy the property and create a natural protected area, but at that time there were no civil society organizations that could buy land for conservation purposes.

Fundadores Terra Peninsular 20 de abril de 2001
Founder members of Terra Peninsular.

With the priority of protecting Punta Mazo, the civil association Terra Peninsular was created in 2001. The legal authority to buy land for conservation was established in the constitutive act.

Founding the organization was only the first step. After several years of negotiations and with the support of donations, the struggle culminated in 2012 with the purchase of the land.

Volcán Sudoeste
Photo by Alejandro Arias.

To ensure that Punta Mazo is permanently protected, the property title has limiting conditions so that only activities to preserve habitats and wildlife can be carried out. This is also described in the certificate provided by the federal government.

After a long process to justify the natural value of the area, in 2014 it was certified as an Area Voluntarily Destined for Conservation (also known as ADVC) by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and named Punta Mazo Nature Reserve.

At the same time, other endangered natural areas in the San Quintin and El Rosario region were certified, and today there is also the Valle Tranquilo Nature Reserve and the Monte Ceniza Nature Reserve, both owned by Terra Peninsular.

What would have happened?

San Quintin would have been very different if the project had been carried out:

  • Archeological remains of 8,000 year-old would have disappeared.
  • Pollution and sewage discharge would probably have affected productive activities, such as fishing and oyster farming.
  • Many native plants would have been crushed or removed from the site to construct buildings and golf courses.
  • Migratory birds such as the black brant would not have a place to shelter and feed during the winter.
  • We would not know that the Punta Mazo Nature Reserve is an important site for the study of insects, reptiles, dunes and plants.
  • Also, we would not know that the Monte Ceniza Nature Reserve is home to the San Quintin kangaroo rat, a rodent that was thought to be extinct for more than 30 years.
  • We would not have so many natural areas to connect with nature and enjoy outdoor activities such as kayaking, camping, biking, climbing volcanoes, etc.
Sendero en el volcán Sudoeste
Photo by Mirna Borrego.


  • 2001

    Terra Peninsular was founded on April 20, 2001 in Ensenada, Baja California.

  • 2002

    In collaboration with civil society organizations, research centers and community members, we succeeded in canceling the Cabo San Quintin tourism megaproject, which intended to destroy some of the bay’s natural areas.

  • 2006

    The Coalition for the Protection of San Quintin Bay was formed, made up of Pronatura Noroeste, The Nature Conservancy, Pro Esteros and Terra Peninsular.

  • 2008

  • 2010

    • Six species of native plants of Baja California were included on the list of threatened or endangered species of the Official Mexican Standard 059.
    • The Valle Tranquilo Nature Reserve was created with the acquisition of 6,696 acres to preserve coastal sage scrub.
  • 2011

    The first ten California condors were reintroduced through a collaboration with CICESE, the National Institute of Ecology, and the San Diego Zoo.

  • 2012

    The Punta Mazo Nature Reserve was created in San Quintin with the acquisition of 2,055 acres to preserve coastal sage scrub and coastal dunes.

  • 2013

    The Valle Tranquilo Nature Reserve was certified as a private reserve.

  • 2014

    • The Punta Mazo Nature Reserve was certified as a private reserve.
    • We signed a collaboration agreement with the federal government to protect and manage San Quintin Bay.
  • 2015

    The first San Quintin Bird Festival was held with the purpose of raising awareness about the importance of birds and their habitats.

  • 2016

  • 2017

  • 2018

    • Rediscovered the San Quintin kangaroo rat with the San Diego Natural History Museum, this rodent was thought to be extinct for over 30 years. 
    • We’re members of the International Coastal Cleanup, an alliance of over  30 organizations, companies, authorities, and academic institutions.
  • 2019

    • In the area of influence of the Valle Tranquilo Nature Reserve 16 sites with graphic-rock manifestations of more than 1500 years old were found through a collaboration with the National Institute of History and Anthropology.
  • 2020

  • 2021

    • Together with Pacifica at Ensenada Bay, we launched the campaign La playa es de todos to protect the snowy plover nesting season in Ensenada.
    • Over 200 people participated in the sixth edition of the San Quintin Bird Festival.
    • Between 2018 and 2021, we implemented the “La playa es de todos” campaign in Ensenada to protect the snowy plover together with Pacifica at Ensenada Bay.
  • 2022

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