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Wildcoast studies surfers' social and economic impacts on Baja

Researchers from Wildcoast, a coastal and marine conservation group based in Imperial Beach, are calling on surfers who traveled to Baja California Sur during the past year to participate in a survey.

The purpose of the survey is to give researchers a better understanding of the social and economic impacts that surfing has on small isolated communities south of the border. The research will also be helpful when fighting against new development projects that jeopardize surf breaks and other coastal ecosystems.

"This information is crucial for decision makers to realize that surfing is not a fringe activity, and that the preservation of waves and coastal habitats actually has value...," reads Wildcoast's website.

Conservationists at Wildcoast say the results from the survey could eventually be used to help create a "Surfing Reserve" in Baja, an area akin to a national park, where the land, ecosystems, and surf breaks would be protected.

Wildcoast researcher A.J. Schneller has been looking into the benefits that surfing has on local communities in Baja for the past three years.

"[Surfers] are spending a lot of money in these communities and are creating social bonds with these communities. They are not just parachuting in and then bailing," says Schneller, who plans to release his findings in the coming months.

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