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Old 05-31-2013, 08:01 PM   #11
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How soon the Media forget Mother Nature’s contribution to what’s occurring today as well as the Mexican government’s ongoing contributions… from Monarch Watch…. 11 February 2002, ‘Catastrophic Mortality at the Monarch Overwintering Sites in Mexico’, Catastrophic Mortality at the Monarch Overwintering Sites in Mexico, “A report (Brower, et al., in prep; released for publication on 12 February 2002) of the deaths of tens of millions of monarchs at the two largest monarch overwintering sites in Mexico once again confirms the long held view that it is the overwintering sites that hold the key to the continuation of the monarch migration in eastern North America. Each fall hundreds of millions of monarchs migrate from Canada and the eastern United States to overwinter in Oyamel fir forests high in the Transvolcanic Mountains west of Mexico City. The Oyamel forests provide a cool and moist environment which shelters the monarchs from extreme temperatures allowing the butterflies to pass the winter in a relatively inactive state. The monarchs form dense clusters on the trees in the forest with densities of 10 million or more butterflies per hectare. The butterflies take flight on warm days visiting flowers for nectar and damp areas for moisture but for the most part they are inactive and sustain themselves through the winter by metabolizing fat stored in their abdomen. The forests provide substantial protection for the monarchs and the temperature and moisture changes within the forest are modest compared to the changes which occur in cleared areas adjacent to the colonies. Degradation of the forests at the colony sites is likely to break down this protection leading to higher mortality and greater vulnerability of the clustered butterflies to the occasional snow or freezing rain. It is clear that monarchs require relatively intact forests to successfully overwinter. The challenge is to maintain the integrity of these forests when the economic conditions are such that the local landowners (ejidatarios) view the trees as a source of income.
Catastrophic mortality at the overwintering sites occurs from time to time. Historically most of the weather extremes leading to the deaths of masses of monarchs have been limited to one or a few colonies. Last year, a late season snow and ice storm (2-3 March 2001) killed modest numbers of monarchs at the two main colonies, El Rosario and Sierra Chincua but appeared to devastate some of the smaller colonies in the mountains to the east. A cold snap earlier in the year killed hundreds of thousands of monarchs at the San Andreas colony, a site with a badly degraded forest. Initially, the monarch mortality at San Andreas was attributed to intentional spraying by loggers, a claim that created a furor in the press and conservation community. A subsequent investigation showed that these monarchs died as a result of cold weather.”
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And, Mexican Deforestation in the Sierra Madre, Mexican Deforestation in the Sierra Madre, "The Sierra Madre boasts some of the richest biodiversity anywhere in North America and contains about two thirds of the standing timber in Mexico. Twenty three different species of pine and some 200 species of oak reside within the Sierra Madre Occidental. So far, over cutting of the forests in this area since the early part of this century has caused the extinction of the imperial woodpecker (the largest woodpecker on Earth) and has lead to several other species becoming critically endangered such as the Mexican gray wolf, jaguar, and thick-billed parrot. Currently, all but 300,000 acres or about 2 percent of the old-growth forest is gone, most without approval or permits from the Tarahumara tribe (Shoumatoff 1995, 92). The smaller trees left as seed stock in place of the old growth forests have mostly died because they lack protection from the elements provided by taller trees. Local logging companies - some believed to be in close association with, and in a few cases, owned by the narcotraficantes, have been forcing new roads into remote settlements and cutting what remains of the last old-growth forests. This land, often under Indian protectorship, is often logged without Tarahumara permission.

In addition to being under attack by illegal logging practices, another severe threat to the Sierra Madre Occidental old-growth stands was a 1989 World Bank Loan to Mexico of $45.5 million for a logging and forest-management project (Mardon and Borowitz 1990, 98). The plan, to log more than 4 billion board feet of lumber from 20 million acres of forest over six and one- half years was ostensibly put in place to help Mexico correct its trade deficit by reducing its dependence on imported paper pulp. Many environmentalists were opposed to this loan for the following reasons: indigenous peoples' lives would be even more disrupted (no jobs were promised, just lots of erosion), any hope of a world- class national park in the region would be dashed, and lastly, the oak and pine-covered watersheds would be destroyed with far- reaching effects that could eventually be felt in Texas. (The erosion and destruction of watersheds could eventually deplete underground aquifers used as water sources by both Texans and Mexicans to grow crops or for industrial purposes.) Plus, the World Bank had slated only three percent of the total funds for conservation purposes. An amount many people felt to be woefully inadequate. Many environmentalists also felt that logging would be a big mistake compared to potential revenue a park encompassing Copper Canyon (a system of tangled, immense chasms, four of which are deeper than the Grand) and the Tarahumara tribe would generate from tourist visitation. Even though the area is currently a popular eco-tourist destination, the threat and destruction posed by drug traffickers and their activities is still very real problem.”
And, Potential erosion of the Sierra Madre Occidental due to logging also threatens the headwaters of the Rio Conchos, the Rio Grande's largest tributary. In the rainy season, with no forests to protect the exposed slopes, the area could face floods, extensive siltation of the river followed by a drying out of the riverbeds (Mardon and Borowitz 1990, 99). Instead of slowly filtering into underground aquifers, water quickly gets swept away leaving traditional underground springs dry and depriving the Tarahumara of a vital drinking source. With no springs, the Indians have turned to drinking river water that is increasingly becoming polluted by paraquat (a herbicide I will discuss later).
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Me thinks all the indigenous plants and animals of the Sierra Madre…. including the monarchs and the Tarahumara Indians could use some protection from the elite and the UN’s “People and Planet Savers”.
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