Colorado River Delta Program Director, Sonoran Institute
Mexicali, Baja California
“We need to tell more positive stories, especially today. You guys can tell them.” I’ll start with the story of the very man who gave us this encouragement: Francisco Zamora. He directs the Colorado Delta region for the Sonoran Institute in Mexicali, Mexico. Francisco saw a barren desert and dreamed of a river winding through a dense forest. After several years of perseverance, his dream came true. He talks to us at Laguna Grande, one of the sites where he’s created life. The banks of the river are green, and beyond them grows a beautiful forest consisting of coyote willow, mesquite, and cottonwood.
The haven has ameliorated the lives of a host of species, including humans. Locals come to the newly created biome and are often profoundly moved, seeing nature for the first time. “At the beginning there was no recognition from the people about the environment, and now I see a new attitude towards restoration…People in Mexicali know about the Grand Canyon, but not the Colorado River that’s in their own backyard.” The Sonoran institute is finally getting discovered, one planted tree at a time.
He began his talk by saying “this morning, I got a flat tire, and two policemen came and helped me change the tire. That tells me there’s still a lot of hope, and there are still good people on the Earth.” Francisco reminds us to dream, care, give, and remain positive. If just a quarter of the world embodies his sentiment, we’ll be just fine.
By Luke Ratliff
Photos by Luke Ratliff