MEXICO: Garden on the Gulf

In the sunny valley of the Fuerte River, along Mexico's Gulf of California coast, not enough rain has fallen in the past six years to settle the dust. Yet last week 123,550 acres of the valley's virgin soil lay plowed and planted for the first time in history. Crisscrossing the land was a symmetrical pattern of brand-new concrete canals and irrigation ditches filled with fresh water. Higher up, in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains that parallel the coast, lay the source of the life-giving moisture: the new, stone-faced $16 million Miguel Hidalgo Dam, finished last year.

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