Laguna San Ignacio

Laguna San Ignacio

On the Pacific Coast of the Baja Peninsula, the Laguna San Ignacio complex provides Mexico’s primary gray whale breeding and calving habitat. The lagoon also harbors sea turtles, peregrine falcons, ospreys, and hundreds of thousands of migratory shorebirds and waterfowl. It forms the southern boundary of the Vizcaino desert, within the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, and includes 248 miles of coastline. The lagoon is a United Nations Wosea turtlerld Heritage Site.

Twice in recent years the rich habitat of Laguna San Ignacio has been threated by attempts to mine salt. The first, undertaken by the Mitsubishi corporation in 2000, was turned back by the Laguna San Ignacio Conservation Alliance, a coalition of nonprofit groups comprising WildCoast, Pronatura Noroeste, Natural Resources Defense Council, and International Community Foundation.

In 2009, when Resources Legacy Fund and the Alliance were developing strategic conservation plans for the region, they learned that Mitsubishi and the Mexican government had quietly entered into a formal partnership for another attempt to establish a salt mine. The proposed mine would devote a massive portion of the lagoon to salt extraction ponds and a shipping pier. Roads, power lines, and a desalination plant would be built, along with housing and other structures for workers.

RLF worked closely with the Alliance to craft a strategy to permanently safeguard the lagoon from such development. The Alliance negotiated with the Mexican government to secure conservation status for 200,000 acres of federal lands and 159 miles of lagoon coastline. Then RLF grantee and Alliance member Pronatura Noroeste entered into a long-term agreement with the government to manage the federal lands for conservation purposes. Finally, RLF established a reserve fund to cover ongoing costs of protecting lagoon lands.

Laguna San Ignacio embodies the RLF approach across northwest Mexico: engage collaboratively with local communities, conservation organizations, and private landowners, while building capacity, advancing policy, and acquiring land. The result? Nearly 1,000 square miles of unparalleled habitat protected.




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