Growing demand for concrete and asphalt in southern California in the last three years is scarring Baja California’s once-sandy riverbeds. As much as 2 million tons of sand are being excavated, both legally and illegally, each year from Baja and then sent north to help with construction projects in the U.S. Eroding riverbanks, flooding, and the destruction of important wildlife habitat are left behind. Mexico’s federal government has jurisdiction over the riverbeds, but says it can’t control the sand-mining industry. “It’s like a cancer. One day [the illegal sand-mining operations] are here, the next day they’re in another streambed,” said Alejandro Alvarez Cardenas, chief of the Baja California office of Profepa, the country’s environmental watchdog agency. He is calling for tougher regulations to restrict sand mining. Riverbeds have been stripped bare in Baja even as stricter environmental protections in the U.S. have made it nearly impossible to mine sand in southern California.