Bahia Todos Santos, Mexico

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Witth the Conservation Alliance's support we will push forward with the State Park at San Miguel.

Creating The First State Park in Baja California With The Conservation Alliance

October 2014 - The San Miguel project was identified as a priority project of the World Surfing Reserve in Baja’s Save The Waves Coalition is pleased to announce a new partnership with The Conservation Alliance through the award of $35,000 in grant funding, supporting their work of creating the first state park in Baja California.  As one of 23 awardees for the 2014 summer cycle, and one of only two new grantees, Save The Waves is thrilled.

“We couldn’t be happier with this outcome”, said Executive Director Nik Strong-Cvetich, “These grant funds will go directly to supporting work with our partners in creating Baja California’s first State Park at the historic San Miguel wave and watershed. “Bahia de Todos Santos. As one of the last intact watersheds on the Baja peninsula, the health of the San Miguel watershed and the quality of the wave are directly connected. Protecting the inland watershed for future generations will in turn protect the wave seated at the mouth of San Miguel arroyo, but also offer a green space to the community of Ensenada. The grant will help fund three key steps to further the creation of the State Park:

1)  Launching of a public campaign and film to illustrate the local and international support for the creation of the first State Park to the Governor of Baja California;

2)  Funding a Surfonomics study to demonstrate the local economic impact of the wave; and

3)  An international exchange to assist in the management and long term creation

“We are excited to take the next steps on this project in lockstep with our local partners at ProNatura NoroesteWildcoast and SurfEns” said Director of Programs, Nick Mucha.

The Conservation Alliance is an organization of outdoor businesses whose collective contributions support grassroots environmental organizations and their efforts to protect wild places where outdoor enthusiasts recreate.

For more information see www.conservationalliance.org.


The sun sets over San Miguel;  the site of the Surfonomics study.

Notes From The Field: Baja Surfonomics Study

August 2014 - On June 21st, the Bahia de Todos Santos was dedicated as the sixth World Surfing Reserve and it was my task to kick off our conservation efforts with a “Surfonomics” study.   As a STW Surfonomics fellow, I am focused on quantifying the economic value of the waves in this area and especially, the famous right hand point break at San Miguel.  An economic valuation of waves is accomplished through in person surveys to determine how much an average travelling surfer spends on things like food, transportation, lodging and equipment within the WSR boundaries.  Through undertaking this expenditure analysis, we can make a strong case that surfing and quality waves like San Miguel are a central factor that helps bring in money to the local economy and that the waves themselves are highly valuable not only to surfers, but local business as well.  Save The Waves’ Surfonomics studies seek to inform decision makers and the local and international community of the economic value of waves and healthy coastlines. Through this collaborative study with the Monterey Institute of International Studies’ Center for the Blue Economy, one of STW’s core objectives is to support the approval of Baja California’s first state park at San Miguel.

Today though, a survey day at San Miguel, the parking lot is pretty empty.  It is the off-season and if I happen to come upon a gringo in the parking lot to carry out a survey for the study, I run towards them with excitement.  As I watch the ripples on the water, a truck comes down the road with California plates.  Two guys from San Diego have just come back from the dusty and wind-carved south of Baja. I approach them with confidence, but a light hesitation as we all know the feeling we get when someone approaches us, especially at our sacred spots, with pencil, paper, and a clipboard.

They have been coming down here for over twenty years and provide some valuable insight on why a Surfonomics study here is so important, but also difficult.

 STW’s previous Surfonomics studies in Bali, Spain and Chile have successfully demonstrated the value of surfing tourism to local economies.  These studies give decision-makers and community members sound economic data to justify working towards clean water, well-planned development and necessary infrastructure to preserve wave quality and maintain ecosystem health.  Mexico however, presents an interesting challenge to the classic Surfonomics survey design.

Around 2008, Mexico’s drug war escalated and the classic minor Baja anxiety over robberies and petty theft transformed into a profound fear associated with the violence between drug cartels.  I was one of these surfers affected by the news.  My weekend trips down to Mexico during college in San Diego abruptly stopped when it seemed like everyday there was a news article about some unthinkable violent act. “With any hint of a south swell in the 80’s the parking lot at San Miguel would be full of Californians” the San Diego surfer told me.  “Now, it’s just us.”

While the number of American surfers has dwindled, the number of local surfers has increased exponentially.  Ensenada now has five different surf schools and on a weekend morning at Playa Hermosa you can see plenty of kids and young adults standing stiff legged and smiling ear to ear on soft tops. The decrease in visiting surfers and the increase of locals in the water meant that we needed to change our project design in order to accurately capture the dollars and cents of surfing in Ensenada.  

Instead of waiting hours at San Miguel for 1 or 2 Americans to come through, we took our surveys to the beach at Playa Hermosa to understand how a local surfing economy is being built through surf schools.  We designed an Internet survey that will soon be shared throughout Ensenada to help us understand how much money is being spent in local surf shops, on gas, restaurants, and hotels/hostels that directly correlate to the surf economy. After being here only a couple of weeks, it became apparent that a surfing economy and culture isn’t just driven by surfers on vacation, but is fortified through a strong local presence in the surf.

As the summer comes to an end, the water begins to cool, and we look forward to northwest swells, we are also organizing a local team of volunteers to carry out the survey work during the peak season at San Miguel.  As San Miguel is revived from its summer sleep, we will be ready to accurately document how important surfing and surfers are to the economy of Ensenada during the high season.

Ensenada, the birthplace of Mexican surfing, has been awarded the prestigous honor of becoming a World Surfing Reserve.  The task at hand now is to ensure that the designation as a WSR and the economic valuation of surfing we provide supports and promotes sound coastal management policies and conservation efforts.   Ensenada has had a renaissance in its local surfing culture and the waves are more valuable and vulnerable than ever.  With the momentum and support from the local surf community, our valued local partners, and travelling surfers, we are confident that the pieces are in place to achieve long-term protection of this amazing stretch of coastline and its world-class waves


 

Ceremonial paddle out celebration for the Bahia de Todos Santos World Surfing Reserve dedication.  Photo: Chuy Garcia

Iconic breaks protected as Bahia De Todos Santos becomes 6th World Surfing Reserve.

June 22, 2014 - Ensenada, Baja California – The local and international communities came together on Saturday to commemorate and celebrate Bahía de Todos Santos as the sixth World Surfing Reserve. With over 200 people in attendance, the community pride was palpable, underscoring the importance of this designation for the Mexican and international surfing communities. The event also featured speeches by surfing elite Carlos Hernandez and Gary Linden, as well as dignitaries, including representatives of the City of Ensenada, the Secretariat of Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), Secretariat of Fisheries (SERNAPESCA), the United States Consul General, ProNatura Noroeste, WILDCOAST/COSTASALVAJE, and Surf ENS.

Chosen for it high quality waves, distinct environmental characteristics, surf history and community support, the Bahía de Todos Santos Reserve hosts a unique combination of these attributes. Most impressive is the high quality of waves found within the Reserve boundaries, which include Salsipuedes, San Miguel, 3M’s, Stacks and the big wave spot Killers on Isla Todos Santos. The strong surfing culture of Bahía de Todos Santos is formidable, with San Miguel credited as the birthplace of Mexican surf culture. 
 
“The event was amazing and the outpouring of community support for the Reserve was truly humbling. It has been a blessing to work with such great partners, and it is now incumbent upon all of us to take this momentum and secure permanent legal protection for places like San Miguel.” said Save The Waves Executive Director, Nik Strong-Cvetich.
 
Attendees to the World Surfing Reserve dedication came from the local surf community, NGO's, and government dignitaries.  Photo: Chuy Garcia
 
To officially close the event, government officials and local leaders in attendance signed an agreement to formally support the conservation goals outlined in the Reserve Stewardship Plan—the document created by Save The Waves Coalition, Surf ENS, WILDCOAST/COSTASALVAJE and ProNatura Noroeste to guide the management of the newly established Reserve. As the first concrete step in this plan, Save The Waves and the World Surfing Reserve in Bahía de Todos Santos will launch a media campaign to help create first state park in the state of Baja California, led by partner organization ProNatura Noroeste. The proposed state park will protect the critical watershed at Arroyo San Miguel and the sand and cobblestones that create the fabled San Miguel surf spot.
 
 “The health of the watershed and quality of the wave are tied together. Creating the state park will help ensure that the wave quality is protected for the long term”, said Nick Mucha, Environmental and Programs Director for Save The Waves.
 
Photo: Chuy Garcia
 

Iconic breaks of Baja to be protected as Bahia de Todos Santos becomes Sixth World Surfing Reserve.
Official Dedication Ceremony to be held Saturday, June 21st, 2014.

San Miguel, part of the Bahia de Todos Santos World Surfing Reserve.  Photo: Jose Beltran

May 16th, 2014– Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico – Bahia de Todos Santos will be officially dedicated as a World Surfing Reserve, Saturday June 21st, 2014, protecting the iconic breaks of the Baja coast from Salsipuedes to Killers.
 
The free event will begin at 3 pm and will feature a community paddle out, performances, a community art project, remarks from invited dignitaries – all to inspire stewardship of the coasts. An evening reception will be held from 6 pm – 12 am at upscale Kraken Restaurant to celebrate the dedication, featuring live music, food, local beers and wines, scheduled remarks, and a photography exhibition of local waves and coastlines.
 
Bahia de Todos Santos received its approval as a World Surfing Reserve in January 2013, for its’ wave quality and consistency, unique environmental characteristics, surf culture and history, and community support. Prominent organizations Ensenada-based SURF-ENS, Mexican NGO Pronatura and environmental NGO WILDCOAST/Costa Salvaje have been deeply involved in the planning and ongoing stewardship of the Reserve.

“The community is overwhelmingly excited and honored to receive the World Surfing Reserve designation,” said Fernando Marvan, president of SURF ENS. “We look forward to implementing the Reserve and improving environmental protection of the region.”

This group of organizations, which forms the local stewardship council, has spent the past six months working with Save The Waves Coalition to develop a stewardship plan to guide the conservation efforts within the Reserve. Notably, the World Surfing Reserve in Bahia de Todos Santos is poised to help create first state park in northern Baja, led by partner organization Pronatura. The proposed state park will protect 6 hectares of critical watershed at Arroyo San Miguel and the sand and cobblestones that create the fabled San Miguel surf spot.
 
“Bahia de Todos Santos is an amazing environmental and recreational treasure”, said Save The Waves Coalition Executive Director, Nik Strong-Cvetich “ and Save The Waves is honored to work on the long term conservation of the Bahia Todos Santos World Surfing Reserve alongside our amazing partners”.


Bahia Todos Santos, Mexico, Approved as World Surfing Reserve

Reserve surf zone to include iconic breaks at San Miguel, Isla Todos Santos and Salsipuedes

January 23, 2013 – World Surfing Reserves and Save The Waves Coalition are excited to announce that Bahia Todos Santos, Baja California, Mexico, has been formally approved as a World Surfing Reserve. The Bahia Todos Santos Reserve, or Todos Santos Bay, will be a surf zone that extends from the surf break Stacks just south of San Miguel, to Isla Todos Santos to the west (including the famous big-wave break Killers), and to Salsipuedes to the north.

Bahia Todos Santos becomes the sixth site to receive World Surfing Reserve status, and the second in Latin America, following the recent approval of Huanchaco, Peru. Several local organizations were involved with its application for World Surfing Reserve status, including Ensenada-based SURF-ENS, Mexican NGO Pronatura and environmental nonprofit WiLDCOAST, and will be involved with the implementation and ongoing management of the Reserve.

“Bahia Todos Santos is an amazing environmental and recreational treasure,” said Fernando Marvan, president of SURF ENS.  “The community is overwhelmingly excited and honored to receive the World Surfing Reserve approval. We look forward to implementing the reserve and significantly increasing environmental protection of the region.”

The area in and around Bahia Todos Santos is known for its quality surf and beautiful topography, and draws local and visiting surfers alike. Mexico’s surfing history can be traced here, with San Miguel being one of the first waves to be surfed consistently by visiting Southern California surfers beginning in the late 50s. The San Miguel Surf Club was also Mexico’s very first surf club.

Bahia Todos Santos not only provides a playground for surfers, but is one of the most unique coastal landscapes in the Californias with towering cliffs and headlands, islands, natural bays and points.It also provides habitat for a robust coastal and marine ecosystem, including numerous fish, crustacean, and bird species, and is a migratory stopping point for gray whales.

Stay tuned for more news and progress in the coming months about the dedication and implementation of Bahia Todos Santos as a World Surfing Reserve, which is anticipated to happen in 2013.


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