Francisco Zamora is mobilizing hope. As Director of the Sonoran Institute’s Colorado River Delta Legacy program and with around 20 years of experience working in the Mexico-United States border region, Zamora has seen massive ecological and social progress. His job requires collaboration with local leaders, businesses and government agencies to achieve one main goal: returning the Colorado River to the Gulf of California. Where once the river provided a green path of biodiversity and irrigation water through one of the hottest regions of Mexico, it has today shriveled to salty mud pits from over-allocation.
It would seem hard to find hope in this expansive landscape of dust, but Zamora celebrates in the achievements that a community-grown, cooperative approach has yielded. He compares the Sonoran Institute’s restoration work to planting a seed, one that will empower local employees in growing the spirit of the project with their own ideas. Zamora has an equally optimistic metaphor for his relationship with big governments and agencies. Where he once had to “push the truck,” to bring attention to the Delta’s importance, he now sees such community enthusiasm that he is easily “pulling” a bandwagon of support. Facing a tumultuous political climate in the wake of the recent U.S. election, Franciso models an inspiring outlook. He is motivated in his work by “the joy of knowing that I’m doing a good thing.”
By Signe Lindquist