For LGF, opportunity has come chirping--er, knocking--as we learn of adjacent land for sale!

May 2019

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Help Needed!

By Jane A. Lyons

Vice-president, Las Gralarias Foundation

In our Fall 2018 HUM, we brought everyone up-to-date on what we have done and achieved in our first 20 years at Reserva Las Gralarias. Plus we looked back to say "Thank you!" to all the people who have supported us in so many ways over the years. Many of our supporters and friends have visited the reserve on multiple occasions and have been able to see how we have worked to transform what was once denuded cow pasture back into fully functioning cloud forest habitat brimming with creatures large and small. 

Thanks to generous donations, last year we were able to purchase another 250 acres of mostly beautiful cloud forest with pristine creeks on both sides of the Santa Rosa River and adjacent to our uppermost property.

View from the road of our upper Santa Rosa property which runs over 2 kilometers north 

Our lands are so beautiful that it is hard to imagine that anyone would cut down all of the forest, burn the "brush," spray chemicals such as Round-Up all over hundreds of acres in order to plant potatoes and tree tomatoes. Unfortunately, this is exactly what is now happening in our area.

Lower, flatter and more accessible lands in this area have been transformed over the past 20 years into big agribusiness, mostly for African palm oil, non-native palmito and some fruit trees. Now such agribusiness is moving upslope. They do not even buy the land but just rent it and then destroy it. Our zone is supposedly "good" for growing cabbage, raspberries, potatoes, squash and some local fruits such as naranjilla.

Top photo: A view of what agribusiness is doing just across the old Nono-Mindo Road from RLG's upper properties with remnants of cloud forest visible in the distance. Bottom left: Tree tomato plants in what was previously cloud forest with what remains of the cloud forest (for now) just visible in the background; Bottom right: The view on the other side of the road from our upper Santa Rosa property, recently rented to big agribusiness. The remnants of cloud forest visible in the background will soon be cut completely.

Fortunately, this recently destroyed property is not within our Santa Rosa watershed and does not affect us directly. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of the town of Mindo, all the run-off from this now pesticide-laden agribusiness project drains south directly into the watershed of the Mindo River and its various feeder creeks, including the first one that is seen when crossing into Mindo town. 

This is the main reason that Las Gralarias Foundation (LGF) is right now trying to raise the funds to buy the single largest remaining accessible parcel of land that drains directly into the Santa Rosa River. The 87-hectare (217.5 acres) tract is directly adjacent to our mid-elevation properties. It has much cow pasture, but our experience has shown us how to regenerate those areas. 

These are birds now common in our mid-elevation property, which was a denuded cow pasture in 2004.

The land now for sale has been a functioning cow ranch for about 50 years and has a two-kilometer boundary with our main mid-elevation property. Our main concern is its drainage into the Santa Rosa River and into our Chewbacca Creek and also into the Kathy’s Creek. This system of drainages and creeks are where numerous rare frogs live, including our own Las Gralarias Glassfrog, known only from this and one other creek on our uppermost properties. This is also the key area where the rare Hoary Puffleg hummingbird nests and the same area where we have multiple trailcam photos of Spectacled Bear.

Because the cows have to be milked every day, the ranch hands keep them as close as possible to the house and road and hence fairly far away from the creeks. However, for the first time, the property is now officially up for sale via a real estate company. I, of course, have nightmares about big agribusiness buying it or even just renting it as that will no doubt eventually result in serious damage to our creek systems.

The asking price is not inflated but in fact is a very good price for such property here: $736 per acre for a total of $160,000. So we are launching a campaign to try to find 200 people to donate $800 per acre which would immediately allow Las Gralarias Foundation to buy the land. Remember that donations to LGF in the USA are tax-deductible.

Please tell anyone you think may be interested to "buy an acre!" Of course, if anyone wants to donate more than $800 that is fine too! We would also love to have everyone find two more people who might be interested in our project, or in nature conservation in general, to add to our mailing list.

The beautiful Las Gralarias Glass Frog found only at Reserva Las Gralarias and primarily in Kathy;s Creek. Its survival would be seriously threatened if agribusiness moves into the adjoining property.

We will be working hard on some additional fundraising ideas and plans and welcome any and all assistance!

Thanks to all of you – you are definitely conservation heroes!

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The Las Gralarias Foundation welcomes ALL contributions and 100% of your donation will be used to support the ongoing work at Reserva Las Gralarias. To contribute by check or via PayPal, visit our donate page
Credits:  Las Gralarias Glass Frog courtesy of Ray So; Fawn-breasted Brilliant Hummingbird courtesy of Greg Lambeth; all other photos courtesy of Jane A. Lyons; Chirp! design by Francie Bolter.