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Newsletter No. 57 - January, 2005
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Hola Volunteers, Supporters and Friends

By the end of the season, during the chilly nights of December and January, a small percent of marine turtles will attempt to lay their nests under harshly cold conditions for reptiles. Regardless of the final resting place, either left on the beach or placed in our nursery, these nests will generally fail due to the extreme cold. In late October, we decided to experiment by placing these nests in preheated sand, followed by nighttime heating with 10-watt light: bulbs. The results were astounding; and we finally accomplished what was first thought to be impossible: a survival rate of 92% throughout the season, (see image below). By January 1st, only 15 of 303 nests remained incubating within the nursery, the last of which should hatch on or about February 18th.

In the last newsletter, I mentioned our plans to refurbish the Group's dune buggy for the 2005 nesting season. The first jobs on our list are to replace the clutch and repair the front suspension. Although a week later when we returned to the Santana Volkswagen, no repairs had been made. The mechanics pointed out the sad fact that the motor was on its last legs and needed to be overhauled. The problem with the front-end was about the same; it needed to be completely replaced. The mechanics recommended rebuilding a far better front-end suspension system that would be nearly maintenance free in the long run. Total cost: of engine overhaul, $631; and front-end suspension $135

By December 11th, the dune buggy's engine had been overhauled, and a used front-end rebuilt. From Santana garage we towed the buggy over to the custom dune buggy shop where the mechanics will install the rebuilt front-end, heavy-duty motor mounts, rear suspension system, and a new transaxle mounting kit. Total cost : to rebuild rear mounts/suspension/ transaxle, $715; and installing front-end suspension, $75.

Despite all these repairs, one last troublesome problem needs to be addressed to insure "top performance" (two words never used in the same sentence with our dune buggy) The original 1967 generator failed on a regular basis several times a year, and couldn't generate enough power to keep the battery charged throughout the night. To correct this problem, it was replaced with a state-of-the-art alternator at a cost of $241.

Except for the tires, rails, seats, floor and gas tank, the above work will overhaul and/or replace 95% of the buggy. This work will certainly guarantee little to no maintenance problems for years to come and, hopefully, pay for itself in less than two years.

A recipe to parch your lips and dry up your garden: Step one, slash-and-burn the entire jungle behind your town well. Step two, place as many cattle in this area as possible, (explanation, if overgrazed, the cattle well devour everything down to the ground, allowing heavy summer rains to rinse valuable water and topsoil to the sea.) Step three, don't listen to anyone who speaks of watershed management, (explanation, The nonsense of building holding ponds along the river above the well is a bad idea because it would trap water around the well) Step four, don't use a mechanical yard mulcher, If mulched yard material is spread on the ground, it will only stop erosion and keep the surface damp. If you know of any quicker way (except watering the roads down) to wash our drinking water to the sea, please let us know.

Despite not being allowed to sell our T-shirts at the hotel, over 785 shirts were sold in 2004, not a record, but close. We would like to thank Ramona García, the owner of Oasis Gift Shop, for her many years of selling our T-shirts. T-shirts account for 41% percent of our annual income, while the sale of our Home Directory accounts for 48%. If you a homeowner in San Francisco, and would like a copy of our 2005 Homeowners Directory, please drop by our office on America Latina.

To all of our volunteers, friends and supporters who have contributed in so many ways over the past year, we extend sincere wishes for a Happy New Year and thank you.

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

September Volunteers 2004

Heating nest boxes with 10-watt light blubs

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