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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

WiLDCOAST on the Border

Serge Dedina, Marshall ’87


How do you even begin to conserve thousands of acres of pristine coastline, save endangered wildlife and solve the problem of water pollution along the U.S.-Mexican border? Serge Dedina, ’87, founder of WiLDCOAST, an organization dedicated to environmental preservation, thinks he has the answer.

Dedina believes that environmental conservation along the U.S.-Mexican border has to begin with understanding the social, economic and political conditions between the two countries.

“Having the full context is a powerful tool in understanding problems along the border and finding ways to solve them,” Dedina says.

He uses what he calls political ecology or the combining of social and ecological efforts. Applying this concept, WiLDCOAST has been able to save more than one million acres of coastal wildlands, continue its work to protect endangered sea turtles, and advocate for stronger efforts in controlling the sewage water coming from the Tijuana River and spoiling the San Diego beaches.

WiLDCOAST also recently helped to broker a deal between ejidos, a form of communal landholding, and conservation groups, so as to preserve 140,000-acres at Laguna San Ignacio, on the Gulf of California, in Baja. The area, located 535 miles south of the border, is inhabited by birds, green sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins, and is where thousands of gray whales journey each year to give birth to their young.

Dedina first came across the concept of political ecology at UCSD while working with political science professor Wayne Cornelius and urban studies professor Paul Drake. He also kept the idea in mind as he shaped the organization in 2000 and says that WiLDCOAST now has its own UCSD community. Currently, the organization has five UCSD students and 10 alumni volunteers. Staff members with ties to UCSD also include coastal conservation program manager Ben McCue, ’04, and communications director Fay Crevoshay, a former fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies.

— Marnette Federis, ’06

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