Good News for the Sea of Cortez–Let’s Hope
When Lisbeth and I first came down to San Felipe in the 1990’s, we were fascinated with whatever it was we were driving across on Mexican Highway 5 to reach our destination. At that point, neither of us had spent much time in the desert or on the Baja. We assumed it was simply an extension of the United States side of the border desert area. Bleak and desolate, it loomed on all sides of us like a moonscape. The last frontier. We loved its mystery. That is to say, until we figured out what we were looking at. Yes, it is a desert region. But, when the Colorado River was allowed to flow to its natural destination–the Sea of Cortez–some of the area we pass through was actually part of what once was the second largest delta in the world. If you listen to old timers and read accounts of explorers of the area back as late as the 1950’s, one discovers that the delta was home to an abundance of wildlife, fish, and, even a steamship line. All that remains now are a few ghostly looking fishing boats; dilapidated piers; a newly-remodeled-hope-to-make-a-living campground on a pond of dubious origins; and, an 100 x 100 mile area of starved, dry land.
Upon learning about the Colorado River and the unfortunate fate of the Sea of Cortez, we joined thousands of others in mourning what would certainly be the demise of yet another sea during our lifetime. Consequently, when we read the following article in today’s edition of U.S.A. Today, we allowed for a glimmer of hope. For the sake of the Sea, its inhabitants, and all who live from her, we encourage our two countries to make a concerted effort to let the Colorado follow its natural course, thus reawakening the Sea of Cortez once again.
From U.S.A. Today:
(NEWSER) – The Colorado River has been reunited with an old friend—the sea. Thanks to an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, water from the river has reached the Sea of Cortez in northwestern Mexico for the first time since either 1998 (according to National Geographic) or 1993 (according to AP).Either way, it’s been a long time, and conservationists hope last week’s milestone becomes a regular occurrence.
The water was released in March from the Morelos Dam near the U.S.-Mexico border, and it took about 8 weeks to complete the journey to the sea.
The idea is to restore life to the Colorado River delta, which has pretty much dried up since the advent of the big-dam era. In fact, the experiment is the first time water from the river has been diverted solely for environmental purposes, reports Arizona Public Media.
While the initial “pulse flow” is now shut off, smaller amounts of water will be released to the delta over the next few years, and conservationists think it can revive the dormant habitat. (They’ve been busy planting trees, timed to germinate with the water’s release.)
“It is sort of overwhelming, and I think it sheds light on a sort of global interest in the Colorado River completing that journey again,” says Jennifer Pitt of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Colorado River Project.