Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends ~
As most of you know by now, the San Pancho area experienced flooding at catastrophic levels. The question is, was this disaster caused by human carelessness? A recipe for catastrophic flooding, Tercer Mundo style: mix in several decades of heavy earth moving, any hillside road or foundation verity will do. Then add years of out of control slash-n-burn, over grazing and hillside farming, last, quickly fold in eleven inches of rain. Caution, to change these ingredients may cause flood not to rise.
The first week of September was a bit overwhelming; on the first day of September we woke up to a collapsed bridge leading into Vallarta, followed by five days of heavy rain, which washed out San Pancho’s bridge, along with its phone lines. Then two days of even heavier rain, about 11 inches, washed out the newly constructed footbridge, while many homes within 400 feet of the river were flooded. Many bridges leading north and south from town had been damaged, while the roadway itself was clogged with mud, trees and hundreds of landslides; we were cut off from the rest of the world.
In the wake of the second storm, the town turned into a beehive of activity. A second footbridge was constructed, the sick needing care at larger hospitals were evacuated, while bottled water, propane, food and supplies were carried in, and hundreds of bags of trash were moved out. All roads leading north and south of San Pancho were quickly opened. Construction on the new, wider and longer bridge has begun, but perhaps this bridge will not be functional until late this year or early next year. (See images below).
If you have a high axle all terrain vehicle you can forge the river just downstream from the damaged bridge, but be careful. (See image below). By the end of September we had received 55 inches of rain, with 28 inches in September alone. The opening of the town celebration was interrupted by heavy rain that lasted for four hours. Otherwise, with few barking dogs and tourist left in town, little vehicle traffic on our roads and no loudspeaker, the tranquility is enough to drive one mad. Most tourists and seasonal homeowners have vanished or decided not to visit, causing some shops and restaurants to temporarily close their doors.
As for our work, we are safe, dry and doing well, our apartments are on high ground and weathered the storms without any problems. Both nurseries are also in good shape, although the beach nursery had to be covered with plastic sheeting to prevent the rains from damaging the nests, perhaps too late.
By the end of September, over 180 nests had been placed in the beach nursery, the first groups of 64 nests, collected July 1st to August 5th, have hatched at a low 56% due to heavy rain. The second group of 116 was collected between September 6th and the 22nd. Of the 279 nests collected August 6th to September 5th, placed within the box nursery, 34 boxes have hatched at 91%. Poachers have taken about 25 nests, and another 16 were left on the beach. Flooding, washed out roads and impassable trails have slowed down poachers in their attempts to reach Playa Questo, Las Bancas and Los Chololo. The 500 nests recorded by the end of September represent only 60% of what we had collected last season at this time, a total of 835 nests.
Volunteer-wise, between September 16th and the 22nd, we received seven new volunteers, moving us from a skeleton crew of four to a normal size crew of eleven volunteers, with six more volunteers scheduled to arrive within the next two months.
The conditions on the beach are a different story; all beaches along The Beautiful Rivera Nayarit are covered with tons of floating debris, including plastic and scores of uprooted trees. In addition, the San Pancho beach had six deep trenches that are from time-to-time difficult to get around on the buggy. On the night of the heaviest storm we were trying to maneuver around one trench when I dropped the left front wheel of the dune buggy over a 10 foot bank of the deepest gully. After changing our diapers, we picked up the front end of the buggy and move it over three feet and continued our work.
We would like to thank homeowners for reducing light shining on the beach. In our last newsletter we mentioned that one home was casting a large amount of light onto the beach. The next day after our newsletter the lights were turned off for at least three days, then one-by-one they were all turned back on. It shows who’s in control of that house and it is not owners!!! It is a violation of Mexican law to cast light on an active marine turtle nesting beach. Please, please, please turn them off, put red reflector on your gate if you afraid that someone is going to hit them.
The amount of help and cooperation received from the locals has doubled this year. Local volunteers have taken over the collection of nests on Playa Questo, while the caretaker at Las Bancas has built a small beach nursery,
We must rent our three apartments this winter or the Group will lose big money. The apartments go for $600, $650 and $700. If you would like to help us out of a tight spot, please contact us or Karen Elkan at (530) 852-0751 or email@example.com
Pencil in the spay/neuter clinic for the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th of December. They will need helpers, housing, food, and donations, call Betty or Judith at 311-258 4101 they need your help.
Frank D. Smith
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.
36 hours after the bridge washed out. The box nursery ready for a new plastic cover.
Second footbridge River crossing
Ten foot bank off the deepest gully. Tons of floating debris, plastic and uprooted trees.
Front: Lisa & Che, Agata, Alan, and Andreas,
Back Matilda, Rebecca, Scott, Becki, Curt, Joslin, Nicola.