2014 Annual Report


25 Years Strong, Shaping Our West

For over 25 years, Sonoran Institute has been a pioneer in efforts to unite and celebrate the best of Western culture, history, nature and urban spaces by making connections, seeking practical solutions and promoting long-term sustainability. View and download our 2014 Annual Report to see all that we've done up through 2014 and what we plan on doing as we move forward.

2040 Vision

  Stategic Framework Cover

Strategic Framework

For the last 25 years, we have been successfully helping people in the West build the communities they want to live in while preserving the West that brought them here. Discover our vision for our next 25 years. 

Our Letter to You

Read our 2040 Vision 

Contacts - Colorado River Delta

Francisco Zamora
Director, Colorado River Delta Legacy Program

520-290-0828, ext. 1137

Ashley Kerna
Program Assistant

520-290-0828, ext. 1115

Karen Schlatter
Program Associate

Edith Santiago Serrano
Project Manager


Rocio Garcia Villanueva
Administrative Assistant (Mexico office)


Guadalupe Fonseca Molina
Restoration Field Coordinator

Restoration Assistants:
David Alfaro Rodriguez
Alfredo Ramos Tolento
Aurelio Alfaro Rodriguez
Barnabe Hurtado
Celedonia Camacho
Cristal Galindo Jiménez
Edgar Flores Alvarado
Daniel Herrera Chávez
Javier Herrera Chávez
Estela Rivera Hernández

Tomás Rivas Salcedo

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Colorado River Delta Region




The Colorado River Delta is an ecological treasure worth saving.  Although the Colorado River Delta is less than 10 percent of its original size, it is an important stopover for more than 300,000 migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway and critical to the survival of several threatened and endangered species.

The Delta is also crucial to the cultural survival of indigenous communities on both sides of the border, particularly the Kwapa people (the Cucapá tribe in Mexico and the Cocopah tribe in the U.S.). Furthermore, as the most important freshwater input into the Upper Gulf of California, the Colorado River is vital to the health of juvenile fish nurseries including shrimp, shellfish, and finfish, as well as endangered species such as the vaquita, a marine porpoise, and totoaba, a marine fish. The Delta was declared an International Biosphere Reserve in 1993 and a RAMSAR site in 1996, giving recognition to its global ecological importance.

The overall long-term goal of the Sonoran Institute’s program in the in the Delta, in conjunction with other partners, is to enhance, restore, and maintain the Colorado River Delta ecosystem for people and the environment. Our vision is to have a healthy Delta ecosystem that provides recreation and economic development opportunities for local people, including indigenous populations, and supports healthy populations of freshwater and marine wildlife species. Read about Conservation Priorities in the Delta.

By partnering with local groups and integrating science, economics, policy reform, and on-the-ground restoration projects, our approach has already produced significant accomplishments. Read more about our approach.

If you would like to make a donation to the Delta program, click here.

Learn more about the work in the Colorado River Delta Water Trust:




Ecol. Monitoring




Binational Agreement

“The Sonoran Institute's conservation vision in the Delta includes the human element and is therefore effective in inspiring partnerships and real action.”
Enrique Villegas, Director of the Mexicali Department of Ecology; former Secretary of Environmental Protection for Baja California.

News & Updates

February 2012 - The End of a River?  A Source-to-Sea Journey Down the Colorado River
Over the past 108 days, we've paddled more than 1,600 miles down the Colorado River and its longest tributary, the Green River. Our journey is part of Colorado College's State of the Rockies Project, an outreach research effort which this year focuses on environmental issues surrounding the Colorado River Basin.  Click here to read the article.

November 2011 - Not All Rivers Reach the Sea
When the conservation writer Jonathan Waterman decided to investigate the health of the Colorado River, he took it to extremes. In the spring of 2008, he packed up his supplies and set out on a 1,450-mile expedition down the Colorado, the first documented source-to-sea journey along the river.  Read the complete article.

April 2010—Colorado River Water Rights
Under a longstanding treaty, the Colorado River irrigates 3 million acres of farmland and supplies water to 30 million people in the United States and Mexico.” Published by Public Radio International’s The World. Read the complete article.

April 2010—Researchers Study Effect of Yuma Desalting Plant on Cienega de Santa Clara
A binational team is studying whether running the Yuma Desalting Plant will affect Mexico's Cienega de Santa Clara, the largest wetland on the Colorado River Delta.” Published by redOrbit. Read the complete article.

March 2010—Just Add Water: Colorado Delta Resurrects
“Once written off, the Delta of the Colorado River has found a hardy band of NGOs and local governments willing to sweat to keep it wet.” Published by Miller-McCune. Read the complete article.

September 2009—Eyes Turn to Mexico as Drought Drags On
“The Southwest drought has reached the point where even drain water is coveted.” Published by The New York Times. Read the complete article.



Adopting the Colorado River Delta

Ten years ago, during the last major flood in the Delta of the Colorado River in Mexico, three good friends took a life-changing boat trip. They had not expected to get lost overnight and be rescued the following morning by Lorenzo González, a Cucapá Indian. And they had not expected the trip to be the beginning of a long-term commitment to restoring the Delta.

But that is exactly what happened to Francisco Zamora, who leads the Sonoran Institute's work in the Delta, and his two companions, Osvel Hinojosa and Carlos Valdes, who work to restore the Delta with the Mexican conservation organization Pronatura.

Read more: Stories