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Frontera Fridays: Ecological restoration and the region's green infrastructure

April 27, 2015 By Karla M. Yee Amézaga | USMEX News

Frontera FridayOn April 10, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies (USMEX) and UC San Diego’s Urban Studies and Planning Program held the second Frontera Fridays, which focused on cross-border efforts of ecological restoration and the region’s green infrastructure.

Frontera Fridays are quarterly mobile events that connect leaders from both sides of the border to UC San Diego and serve as a platform for learning, networking and discussing opportunities and challenges that make our binational region unique.

During the event a diverse group of students, faculty, elected officials and community leaders visited Ecoparque in Tijuana and the Tijuana River Estuary in Imperial Beach. The group was joined by special guest Maria Elena Giner, general manager of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC).

During the visit to Ecoparque, led by Dr. Carlos de la Parra of the Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF), the group learned about the system for energy generation and waste water treatment that has been implemented at the site, simultaneously supporting the preservation of local biodiversity. Dr. de la Parra, founder of this initiative, shared his vision to create Ecoparque as a safe place for families to enjoy a unique view of the city and learn about sustainable practices.

“The Ecoparque is an exciting experiment that contributes both to the goals of sustainable resource management and civic outreach,” said USMEX Fellow Brian Palmer-Rubin. “The city of Tijuana and the border region in general stand to benefit from projects such as this one that harness the expertise of scholars and citizen groups to develop imaginative models for environmental stewardship.”

In the afternoon, the group returned to the visitor’s center at the Tijuana River Estuary for a luncheon and afternoon speakers program. Participants were welcomed to the Estuary by Imperial Beach City Councilmember Ed Spriggs.  During the luncheon, Former State Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny discussed the binational nature of the Tijuana River Watershed and the many local issues in this region which require cross-border cooperation to improve the quality of life for residents on both sides of the border.

Special guest Maria Elena Giner discussed the role of the BECC on the border, focusing on the provision of clean drinking water, waste water and storm water treatment, and solid waste disposal. And Keith Pezzoli, director of the Urban Studies and Planning Program at UC San Diego, unveiled a short policy brief (PDF) on the importance of borderlands ecosystems and the interlocking issues of food, water and energy that bioregions along the border must address.

“Our Frontera Friday series provides a unique opportunity for leaders from both sides of the border to come together to learn about our community assets,” said USMEX Interim Director Melissa Floca. “Our shared environmental resources and challenges are just one of the many examples of local issues that we must deal with in an international context because of our location on the border.”

Learn more about the Frontera Fridays program