Background on the Formation of the Borrego Valley Stewardship Council

The Borrego Valley Stewardship Council is a convening entity, guided by the Borrego Valley Geotourism Charter, that regularly brings together a collection of civic and community organizations, government officials, agency staff, academic institutions, and interested citizens to address major issues of concern impacting the Park, the Valley, and residents. The Council was formed in 2014 in cooperation with the National Geographic Society’s Geotourism Program and the University of California, Irvine Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center.

In 2013 a group of volunteers began working with University of California, Irvine to spearhead a series of community workshops focused on looking holistically at economic health of the Borrego region.  While it was acknowledged that the number one economic driver was water availability both in terms of quality and quantity, it was agreed that not only the health of the economy, but the future of both the community of Borrego Springs and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park were dependent on cultivating the capacity to address the interrelated stewardship of the following factors: water, air quality, biodiversity, sustainable economy, land-use governance and human health. 

In April, 2014 Jonathan Tourtellot, consultant to the National Geographic Society and founder of the National Geographic’s Geotourism initiative, came to Borrego Springs to introduce the National Geographic’s Geotourism Initiative to Borrego Springs. The Geotourism program uses a stakeholder-­driven process to create communication tools for destinations, to build a local constituency of destination ambassadors and storytellers, and to work with these individuals to support stewardship and promotion of the destination.

The results of the April 2014 workshop were: 

-- Adoption of a Geotourism Charter

-- Establishment of a forward-thinking Stewardship Council

-- Commitment to a Destination Borrego Springs Geotourism-inspired Promotional Campaign

-- Dedication to seeking recognition for the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park as a World Class Tourist Destination

The Borrego Valley Stewardship Council’s mission statement is as follows: “Borrego Springs seeks to be a model desert community in terms of sound economic planning, beneficial year-round tourism, world-class life-long learning, and exemplary stewardship of our cultural, social, and environmental heritage.”

The Borrego Valley Stewardship charter has been endorsed by the following institutions: the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce, the University of California, Irvine, the Borrego Water District, the Borrego Springs Unified School District, the Anza-Borrego Foundation, the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, the Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy, the de Anza Country Club, the Borrego Art Institute,

In November 2015 we continued this important work with a look at collaborative Governance.  With two recognized leaders in collaborative governance research we explored the lessons learned from the Crown of the Continent’s Geotourism effort and how those lessons might be applied in Borrego Springs. 

The next Borrego Valley Stewardship Council workshop will focus on the realities of complying with SGMA and the potential for a Geotourism based solution.