CEDO, El Centro Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos y Océanos, or Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans: Based in Puerto Peñasco, or Rocky Point, Sonora, the Center works in nine small coastal Gulf of California communities to help fishermen find more sustainable fishing locations and explore other ways of catching shrimp besides gill nets that injure and kill vaquitas, an endangered species of porpoise. CEDO helps fishermen conduct environmental impact studies of their activities, as required by Mexican law.

WiLDCOAST: Based in San Diego, WiLDCOAST protected 24 miles and 23,000 acres of Baja California coastline in the Valle de los Cirios Area of Protected Flora and Fauna, about 300 miles south of the U.S. border, through land purchases and acquisition of conservation easements. The group has fought numerous major industrial and tourism developments proposed along the Baja coast, including a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and a high-rise condominium project. It has also fought to clean up pollution in the Tijuana River in the border area, persuading the U.S. government to spend tens of millions of dollars for sewage treatment plant upgrades and to work with university researchers to study the health risks of exposure to contaminated ocean water at the border.

Nature and Culture International, and Conservacionistas de Flora y Fauna de Alamos, A.C., or Conservationists for Flora and Fauna of Alamos: The first group is an international NGO founded by a San Diego-area developer, and the second is a small, grassroots nonprofit in Alamos in the Sierra Madre. They've combined to raise money to buy 23,000 acres of rare tropical deciduous forest in the Alamos area, which is home to trees such as the Amapa, the Palo Santo and the Burseras, as well as habitat for jaguars, military macaws, river otters and margays.

Sky Island Alliance: Besides its work at Rancho El Aribabi, the Tucson-based group has been conducting wildlife surveys with remote cameras at six other properties in the border region for different lengths of time since 2007. Since 2009, Sky Island has conducted about 10 scientific expeditions on 25 properties in remote Sonoran mountain ranges in a project called the Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assessment, in partnership with numerous landowners, university researchers, government agencies, students and conservation groups from both countries. It is also working with private landowners and ejidos on two large, collaborative restoration projects in northern Mexico that involve riparian areas, wetlands and drainages. It is also working directly with the landowners of about 25 properties in Sonora on various other conservation projects. It has also led numerous workshops in field biology techniques, reptile and amphibian population assessments, remote camera tracking and habitat restoration.

Sonoran Institute: Based in Tucson, the group is working with ranchers and communities along the Upper Santa Cruz River in northern Mexico, seeking to restore the river and its tributaries by placing loose rock dams to slow the flow and artificially creating more stream meanders. It's also working in the Colorado River Delta, with other rural communities and groups and agencies, trying to restore 160,000 acres of wetlands. (#2 on the map and in the text near the beginning of this sidebar).

The Nature Conservancy: Operating for 25 years in northern Mexico, the group has often partnered with Mexican conservation groups. It purchased one ranch/preserve, Los Fresnos in the Upper San Pedro River Basin in northeastern Sonora, that it handed off to Naturalia. It tried the same process with a second ranch, El Uno Ecological Reserve, in the Janos Valley grasslands of northwest Chihuahua: The conservancy bought El Uno and deeded it to ProNatura, but ProNatura didn't have enough staff and funding to manage that reserve, so the conservancy regained ownership of it in 2007 and manages it today. The conservancy also worked with the Mexican agency CONANP, Mexico's equivalent of the National Park Service, to encourage the creation of a protected area in Chihuahua's Janos Biosphere Reserve, and is working with other groups to create one reserve and upgrade the protection status of two others in Baja California. It has also worked with conservation groups to upgrade their capacity to buy land for Mexican conservation areas, and to buy development rights on key parcels, and works with federal agencies to improve their ability to manage their preserves. The group also has worked with Chihuahuan Desert ranchers in northern Mexico to help them develop better management practices and find new ways to make a living on their land.

Defenders of Wildlife: The group's Tucson branch office has sought to promote jaguar and Mexican wolf conservation in northern Mexico. Its Southwest representative, Craig Miller, is a founder and board member of the Northern Jaguar Project. Defenders successfully fought in court for a jaguar recovery plan for both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. As part of a broader jaguar ecological study, Defenders is collaborating with Mexican biologist Carlos Lopez González on a project in which scat-sniffing dogs will course the Sonoran landscape -- starting as soon as this summer -- to look for jaguars and identify jaguar corridors. It has also produced a rancher-wolf conflict-prevention guide for Sonoran ranchers as a release of Mexican wolves there unfolds, and it is working with Naturalia to create a wolf-coexistence program with Sonoran ranchers.

World Wildlife Fund: A branch office in La Paz, on the Gulf of California, trains fishermen to use different kinds of nets rather than the traditional gill nets that often trap rare vaquitas. Scientists for the group also analyze the blood and behavior of endangered gray whales and sharks in the gulf as a way of monitoring their health. In Chihuahua and in the Big Bend National Park area, along the Texas border, the group is working with the Mexican government to try to get more water released from dams on Mexico's Rio Bravo and Rio Conchos, tributaries of the Rio Grande, to better support the Rio Grande's fish and wildlife habitat.


Federal conservation areas in these 3 Mexican states

Baja California

Parque Nacional Constitución de 1857, a national park honoring Mexico's 1857 Constitution, lies in the Sierra de Juárez mountain range, about 60 miles from Ensenada in northern Baja. Rising to 6,560 feet above sea level, the 12,350-acre park contains two natural lakes, numerous coniferous tree species and a huge array of wildlife ranging from bald and golden eagles to bighorn sheep and mule deer.

Sierra de San Pedro Mártir Parque Nacional, a national park totaling about 170,000 acres in Baja's interior, lies a little more than 100 miles south of the U.S. border. The area was first explored by Europeans in 1701, by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino. Known for its pine trees and granite rock formations, the park is part of a mountain range running across the middle section of northwest Baja California. It is also home to Picacho del Diablo, or the Devil's Peak, Baja's highest peak, at 10,160 feet above sea level.

Parque Nacional Archipiélago de San Lorenzo, a 124,000-acre national park, is an archipelago of islands in the Gulf of California off the eastern coast of Baja, that includes many sea cliffs.