The rivers and oceans may be considered natural renewable resources but it doesn’t mean their waters won’t run out. They do run out and that is why there are certain parts of the world that experience drought. These are things we often overlook but not at the Sonoran Institute. The Sonoran Institute pursues a sustainable future by promoting ecological restoration and working on projects that conserve and rehabilitate the rivers in the Southwest United States.
In an interview between Kristi Carter with Gabriela Olimon, the Environmental Educator at the Sonoran Institute, Gaby tells of how the organization started, its mission as well as their current projects.
According to Gaby, the Sonoran Institute started about 25 years ago with the goal of saving the Colorado River delta on the Mexican side and connecting the Gulf of California by means of projects focusing on preservation and reservation of the river. At the same time, it is also their goal to reconnect people with the natural resources that sustain them.
The Colorado River Delta Restoration Project in Mexico has 3 primary goals: The first is to restore the ecosystem along the Colorado River delta. Second, to reconnect the river with the gulf of California by carving river channels back to the ocean, restoring the soil in the land, and replant the native species that used to be there. Finally, to be able to re-establish and strengthen the connection between the community and nature. The project involves a team of 40 people, consisting of engineers, ecologists, oceanographers, and natural resource engineers. They also have people taking care of the geographic systems and an education component.
The ecosystem in this area started to degrade when the US and Mexico signed a 1940 treaty which indicated how much water goes into each of the countries. While the supply of water here has been the main source for agriculture and human consumption, a wide variety of species depended on the river. Many years later, there wasn’t adequate water flowing into the ocean anymore and 80 percent of the riparian ecosystem has been lost. And all of that happened in just 40 years.
Now the good news is that with the efforts and passion of everyone involved in the Sonoran Institute, a total of 700 acres of riparian forest has been restored. This is a great achievement for not only the community but also the wildlife.
To help people reconnect with nature, the Sonoran Institute has reached more than 2,000 people who were mostly school kids. They engaged in several fun activities such as swimming and kayaking. This way, people get to be more educated about the river, its history and its importance to mankind and wildlife.
To save and preserve nature feels like a huge and overwhelming responsibility. But if we all take part and get involved, the burden becomes lighter and the task easier.
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