Urban Projects Department Assistant, Sonoran Institute
Mexicali, Baja California
“El restoración no pelea con las necesidades economicas,” explains Cristina Perea, a 31-year old with feisty energy, contagious laughter, and a keen eye: restoration and economic needs don’t fight with each other, they can go hand in hand. Cristina studied International Relations in undergrad, and mastered in Planning and Sustainable Development, both from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California at the Mexicali headquarters. As part of the Delta team for the Sonoran Institute, Cristina has worked as the Urban Projects Department assistant for two years. It’s clear that this woman is excited about working with other humans. Strolling along the Rio Hardy with misty peaks in view above the flat desert, Cristina spoke about two land owners working with the Sonoran Institute to restore the riverside for a future camping and cabin spot. One land owner is a fisherman, the other a government official, and both realize the economic possibilities that come with supporting the Rio Hardy native ecology.
Cristina shared the lesson learned when cottonwoods and willows were planted—they died due to a lack of water. Since, with the help of volunteers, Sonoran Institute has introduced mesquite along the bank. One day last July, 900 trees were planted, and we were asked to imagine the density of the shore in just a few years.
Cristina told us that this project is major because since its fruition, other land owners have been asking the Sonoran Institute to start restoration work on their land as well. While land owners, like the two involved in this project, are able to take hold of an opportunity for economic development, the Institute is able to manifest watershed restoration on that private land, which ultimately benefits the surrounding communities—both human and non-human. After the first two years in which the Institute pays for the Rio Hardy re-planting, the adjacent land owners will fund a percentage of future ecological work with the income they receive from their improved land.
People don’t move away from their home in Mexicali often, but there is an influx of outsiders from other parts of Mexico that settle in the area. Cristina admits she is happy to continue to live and work in the fertile valley because there are plenty of restoration projects yet to be carried out.
By Jessie Brandt