Toward a Comprehensive Sustainable Destination Management Initiative

On March 24, 2017, over 60 community leaders gathered at de Anza County Club for the third in a series of community engagement workshops convened to spark dialogue about issues of interest and concern to the Park, the Valley, and it’s residents.

The program was designed to help identify and explore the sustainable destination management challenges facing the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the town of Borrego Springs, and the Borrego Water District as it works to embrace its expanding governing responsibilities under the State Groundwater Management Act. The issue for consideration: the potential impact and value of a comprehensive sustainable destination management initiative.

Bill Lawrence and Dick Troy gave an historical outline of the similarities and contrasts to the visions of the early promoters of Borrego Springs and the early pioneers of the California State Park System in terms of resource management, stewardship, and conservation.

Celeste Cantu, former Executive Director of the State Water Resources Control Board, pointed to the fact that implementation of the State Groundwater Management Act allows the Borrego Water District the opportunity to step back and take a fresh look at the relationship with Borrego Springs, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and the greater San Diego Region.  Ms. Cantu applauded the “work to date by the Borrego Water Coalition and community engagement forums such as this.”  She then indicated the earnest nature with which the Borrego Water District and the community have been approaching the Groundwater Sustainability Planning process has been noted in Sacramento.  She said, “People are holding it as a potential model in community engagement and collaborative management, so please keep it up and stay engaged!”

Len Hering, the Executive Director of the Center for Sustainable Energy, passionately presented his proposition that Borrego Springs is uniquely positioned to craft a comprehensive sustainable destination management strategy which fully embraces the interdependence between the Park, the Town, and the new sustainable groundwater management mandates.  Hering noted the many successes he has witnessed when people and organizations take a broad, intentional, integrated view of resource management and economic stewardship.

Jim Dion, Vice President of Partnership Programs at Solimar International, shared his experience working with National Geographic’s Geotourism program for over a decade as well as his thoughts regarding sustainable destination management. He then shared several examples of his work in transitioning strategic visioning work into actual sustainable destination management strategies and programs.