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Letter to Babbitt et al. from 16 Advocates
of Expanding Colorado River Conservation Planning into Mexico

January 21, 1998

Bruce Babbitt
Department of the Interior
18th and C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Nancy Kauffman
Regional Director
U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Southwest Regional Office
P.O. Box 1306
Albuquerque, NM 87103

Robert W. Johnson
Regional Director
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Lower Colorado River Multi-Species
P.O. Box 61470
Boulder City, NV 80006-1470

Gerald R. Zimmerman
Lower Colorado River Multi-Species
Conservation Program Steering Committee
c/o 770 Fairmont Avenue, Suite 100
Glendale, CA 91203-1035

Dear Mr. Babbitt, Ms. Kaufman, Mr. Johnson, and Mr. Zimmerman:

We the undersigned conservationists, scientists, academics, and environmental justice advocates strongly believe that the Colorado River basin must be recognized as a single ecological system all the way to the Upper Gulf of California. Well accepted principles of conservation biology, watershed planning, sustainable development, and international cooperation demand that the River north and south of the border be managed as a whole, with environmental, economic and social impacts on both sides of the international boundary taken into account in River management decisions in the United States and Mexico. Indeed, the bi-national approach to river management that we are advocating is echoed in the recent letter of intent signed by Secretaries Carabias and Babbitt that commits our Nations to work cooperatively to solve shared environmental problems in border protected areas.

Such a whole ecosystem approach, coordinating lower and upper basin management and conservation efforts, will prove to be the most biologically and financially efficient method of restoring the ecological health of the Colorado River region, achieving justice for indigenous and local peoples living in the region, and assuring the long-term economic sustainability of its water resources for sound regional development. Recent meetings in San Luis, Mexicali, and Tucson are evidence of a rising tide of concern on both sides of the border for dealing with the Colorado in a more holistic fashion.

We are concerned by the limited geographic scope of the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (MSCP) and the potential to lock in river management operations and practices over the next 50 years without sufficient consideration of the adverse impacts to the Colorado River Delta or Gulf of California. Consideration of restoration of ecosystems south of the border will yield benefits to the overall recovery of imperiled species on both sides of the border. We wish to engage in a dialogue as to how the MSCP, with Regional Director Kaufman designated as an Ecosystem Recovery Implementation Team on January 13, 1997, could comport with the watershed based ecosystem scale management principles to which the Fish and Wildlife Service is committed. We would like to meet with the MSCP Steering Committee to discuss opportunities for protection and restoration of the Colorado River basin ecosystem south of the international border that are in keeping with the conservation and management priorities of Mexico.



Elena Chavarria
Pronatura, Sonora

Ed Glenn, Ph.D.
Environmental Research Lab
University of Arizona

John Fritschie, Coordinator
Lower Colorado River Program
Defenders of Wildlife

Carlos Valdés-Casillas, Ph.D
Center for Conservation and
Use of Natural Resoruces
Instituto Technologico de Estudios
Superiores deMonterrey-Guaymas

David H. Getches
Professor, Natural Resources
Law University of Colorado
School of Law

David Hogan, Coordinator
Desert Rivers Program
Southwest Center for
Biological Diversity

Peggy Turk-Boyer
Executive Director
Centro Intercultural de Estudios de
Desiertos Y Oceanos

Chelsea Congdon
Resource Analyst
Environmental Defense Fund

Jason Morrison
Senior Associate
Pacific Institute

M.C. Salvador Galindo-Bect
Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanologica
Universidad Autonoma de Baja California

Anita Alvarez Williams
University of Baja California

Steve Cornelius, Director
Borderlands Program
Sonoran Institute

M.C. Ernesto Reynoso
Centro Regional de Estudios
Ambientales y Socioeconomics

Dale Turner
University of Arizona

Tara Mueller, Director
Biodiversity Legal Program
Environmental Law Foundation

Carlos Nagel
Frienda of Pronatura, Inc.