KILLING BAJA

Five reasons the Baja we know and love will be gone in a decade — and what you can do to save it

Winter is here and just about everyone who lives for the long point waves of Baja believes in the Pristine Myth — the conviction that Baja will be empty, desolate and wild — forever. This delusion is at erroneous at best and dangerous at worst. The Baja California that drives us to live for that frenzied first round-the-bend glimpse of a pumping swell at a “secret” point we’ve surfed for the past quarter century is going fast and could disappear in ten years.

Here are five reasons why the Baja you love, the Baja you dream of, the Baja that makes you feel like a primeval surf explorer will no longer exist in a decade — unless you take action to save it:

cruise99ens14 Ensenada Coast, Baja California 1999

Image by CanadaGood via Flickr

Energy/Desal Development. In the past decade some of the world’s biggest energy companies — Sempra, Shell, Chevron-Texaco, and Marathon Oil — have either built or proposed the construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals along Baja’s Pacific coast. And now California water companies are planning to build desal plants on the Baja’s coast, in order to purchase the water back. Makes sense? It doesn’t to me either.

Port Construction. Taiwanese investors are still planning a five billion dollar massive industrial, LNG and urban complex on one of the last pristine stretches of coastline between Ensenada and San Quintin at Cabo Colonet. This new port will be larger than the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles combined. The city associated with the Port will eventually rival Ensenada and will envelop every surf spot around Cuatros.

Marinas and Mega-Resorts. In 2003, John McCarthy, Mexico’s Chief of Tourism Development (FONATUR), announced plans to roll back a plan to build marinas at six point breaks on Baja’s Pacific coast including Scorpion Bay and Punta Abreojos.  While these projects have been cancelled, major resorts and marinas are also now on deck along the East Cape and now along the surf coast of Sinaloa.

The Baja Boom/Bust. With the detonation of the second home market in Baja and the availability of once previously locked off coastal property (due to previous inability of ejidos or collective agrarian cooperatives to sell land), the race is on to buy up and develop every speck of coastal Baja. Even though under Mexican law coastal access is a right, after all of this development occurs, entry to the coast for visiting surfers and local rippers will become almost impossible.

Tijuana River seen from a pedestrian bridge in...

Image via Wikipedia

Coastal Pollution. Runoff from the Tijuana River has made Imperial Beach, Coronado some of the most polluted surf breaks in California. Just north of Baja Malibu, a creek at San Antonio delivers about 30 million gallons of sewage to the coast every day, 365 days a year. Development around San Miguel sends sewage right into the lineup after it rains. Expect new coastal development to pollute your favorite wave in Baja.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Protect the Coast. You can protect the coastal property you own or plan to buy in Baja through a conservation easement — a dedicated legally valid document that prohibits your land from ever being developed into a mega-resort even after you sell it.

Leave No Trace. Pack it in and pack it out. There are no suitable landfills anywhere in Baja at all. The accumulation of plastic from cities and from surf spots is a major source of ocean pollution. Every surfer who visits Baja can make a difference just by packing out trash. Go to www.lnt.org and learn about how to save your favorite Baja break from being overrun with garbage.

Clean up the Tijuana River. WiLDCOAST and our community partners on both sides of the border have launched an effort to clean up the Tijuana River (yes it can be done) and reduce beach closures in Playas de Tijuana, Imperial Beach and Coronado. Email Benjamin@wildcoast.net to have your surf club or business endorse our Clean Water Action Plan.

Party at the Waterman’s Weekend. For the Surf Industry, the annual social calendar is capped by this summertime gala that provides a serious source of funding for organizations working to save Baja’s surf breaks.

So get a reality check. Get active. Just don’t pretend that the spot south of the border you live for with its once endless supply of crystal clean water and righteous wave is going to wait for you forever.

Originally published by Surfline


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