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Hola Volunteers and Supporters

As the December 22nd newsletter hit the Internet, the last 110 nests within our temporary nursery finished hatching, bringing to completion a remarkable record of all but 4 nests out of 110 hatching in the high 90% range. As a rule, nursery temperatures between the first of October and March are generally too cold to hatch nests properly. The success of these last 106 was more or less due to the higher inland temperatures in the temporary nursery.

Mechanically, the Group's Dune Buggy preformed well over the past nesting season despite poor weather and road conditions, although the corrosive effects of salt water and sand did cause structural damage resulting in some down time. By season's end, rust had completely destroyed the fenders and the transmission/motor mounts.

The Group's Website http://www.vallartaonline.com/costaverde was discontinued on January 10th. Those who try the old address will find a single web page that will redirect them by means of a link to our new Website http://www.project-tortuga.org. Our e-mail address tortuga@pvnet.com.mx has also changed to grupo-eco@project-tortuga.org and will be completely discontinued by the end of March.

Through driving rain, the nightly task of collecting nests seems easy when compared to the unpleasant task of collecting donations; turtles seldom duck into dark allies when they see you coming. All kidding aside, the task is not easy, especially when the overall economy is uncertain. The amount of donations collected for this coming nesting season has dropped by 21%; it could have been worse, the Stock Market has dropped by 22%. The sales of T-shirts have fared no better. 40% of our hotel presentations were cancelled over the past year because of low attendance. The sale of T-shirts following our presentations has always been one of our best ways of raising funds.

Landscaping techniques employed in the States can be disastrous when applied to tropical forests of Mexico. Although some small areas around the house can be turned into beautiful tropical gardens through the hands of skilled gardeners, larger cleared areas tend to dry up and become unproductive as many homeowners here are beginning to discover. The jungles of Nayarit are fragile as are any other tropical forests around the world. Nevertheless many envision the jungle resting on a rich thick layer of fertile soil, and its massive canopy of dense foliage as inexhaustible resources that can endure and survive any amount of modification.

Prescription for disaster: Removing forest canopy, under story, and decomposing plant matter allows heavy summer rains to strike the exposed earth surface as never before, carrying away fragile topsoil, and eventually exposing the rock below. After the process of erosion has begun, the drying effects of the sun begin to remove valuable moisture from the surface. This in turn keeps the plant matter from decomposing, lowering the fertility of the thinning soil below. Unfortunately, as the surface dries, it becomes increasingly difficult for the larger jungle plants to draw on moisture from the fractured rock below. As dry areas begin to spread, drought-resistant species of thorn tree, weeds, vines, and other undesirable plants replace the lush green jungle.

Some tips on how to protect the jungle environment and your investment:

* Keep sun and rain from falling directly onto the floor of the jungle.

* Do all that is possible to keep rainwater on the land, or from reaching the sea.

* Use a mechanical chipper to reduce trimmed plant matter into mulch. This material can be used to spread into dry, sun-drenched areas.

* There are few here that truly understand the jungle, when landscaping, don't assume that your workers will advise you of a possible mistake.

Frank D. Smith
Director
Grupo Ecológico de la Costa Verde, A.C.

Over Garzing

What do you mean my land is shot to hell,
I just cleared it last year, and 20 cows per
acre doesn't sound okay.


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