Annual Report 2006

The year 2006 marked the fourth full year of activity of the Monteverde Conservation League U.S., Inc. (MCLUS) since its establishment in April 2002 with its mission “to support the conservation, preservation and rehabilitation of tropical ecosystems and their biodiversity.” MCLUS officers and board members have been carrying out its mission by volunteering time and effort to present informational programs and eco-tourism activities, to carry out fundraising efforts and to provide labor, advice, equipment and funds for activities in Costa Rica and Belize. MCLUS is closely allied with the Monteverde Conservation league (MCL) in Mont3everde, Costa Rica. MCL owns and manages El Bosque Eterno de los Ninos (BEN), a 54,000+ acre nature preserve – the largest private reserve in Central America.

Land Purchase and Protection Campaign (LPPC).
In April 2004 MCLUS began a fundraising effort – Land Purchase and Protection 20th Anniversary Campaign – to raise $1.5 million dollars by Dec. 31, 2007 in celebration of the beginning of the BEN in 1987. The money raised by LPPC will:

• help create wildlife migratory corridors from the BEN to existing patches of remaining forests down the mountain slopes,
• buy land along the BEN’s borders that will seal off the gateways used by poachers,
• buy “inholding lands” – properties which are surrounded by the BEN,
• supportMCL’s annual expenses for BEN’s protection and reforestation activities and for environmental education for the BEN’s surrounding communities, and
• create a Board-directed quasi-endowment for future Protection and Operational expenses

LPPC has included an annual competition among schools to contribute money by
April 22, celebrated as Earth Day in the United States. A total of $ 8895.70 was
donated by 19 schools from 13 states during the second year of the contest. Parents
of the three student ambassadors accompanied their children as part of the eco-
tourism trips offered by MCLUS. The Student Ambassadors came free and promised
to share their experiences with other schools when they returned home. The Student
Ambassadors for 2006 were:

• Dylan Sheets, Principia Lower School, St. Louis, MO $2896.99
• Madeline Petrie, Little Red School House, New York, NY $859
• Ellen Terry, Eckstein Middle School, Seattle, WA $764

In August MCLUS once again received a $20,000 gift establishing a $1 matching grant for every $2 received for all LPPC donations (up to $40,000) during 2006.
363 other donors donated in excess of $92,528 throughout the year with over $45,333 being received after the November annual appeal letter was sent insuring that the January 2007 LPPC payment would be met.

In October New Chapter, an organic vitamin company whose Costa Rican farm almost borders the BEN, gave us $15,000 and then only two weeks later gave us another $4,500. They are our first corporate sponsor!! Thank you to Peter Raven for suggesting that Dwight and Rachel meet Terry and Tom Newmark. Tom is the president of New Chapter and outlined a plan whereby his company immediately began raising money for the BEN. It has been pure pleasure and benefit for the BEN ever since. The company’s dedication to tropical conservation will continue to benefit our forest in the future. It’s a joy to have such good “neighbors”.

With the LPPC and New Chapter’s extraordinary gifts we were able to raise enough money not only to make the January 2007 second payment on the Santamaria property, but enough to make the January 2008 payment as well. We are now awaiting word from MCL as to which piece of land will be the object of their next purchase. It might be a corridor piece on the Pacific slope. An older woman who is finding it more difficult all the time to live alone on her farm has asked the Monteverde Conservation League to buy her 100 acre farm which is half forest and half pasture. She plans to move in with her daughter and would use the proceeds from the sale to help her daughter’s family. After her hand was crushed in a sugar cane press, she was no longer able to milk her cows and do the farm work on her own. This would be a piece of land that we could reforest and create habitat from the seeds of the remaining forest, an idea we have been committed to from the beginning, as well as be a help to a Tico family. The landowner wants the land to go to conservation.

In September 2005 MCLUS received from Paul Dickey a donation of 59 hectares of land on the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica. A recent audit required that the land be appraised professionally. It was originally said to be worth $36,600, but thought to be more valuable, maybe worth $145,000. But the appraiser officially valued it in 2006 as worth almost $3 million. We are holding the land for two years and then plan to give it to the MCL.

As per allocations designated by the Board for LPPC (50% for land, 40% for protection and 10% for endowment) the 2006 donation to MCL for operations amounted to $29,224. $7306 was added to the quasi-endowment and $36,530 was sent to MCL toward the purchase of the Sr. Santamaria’s piece of land inside the BEN.

Other Donations and Assistances to MCL.
MCLUS offered a challenge grant of $4750 to the Board of MCL to make improvements on the San Gerardo Field Station to make it more ready for eco-tourism. Eco-tourism allows the BEN to pay for itself, being a sustainable way of producing income from the forest for the forest. Ecotourism also will increase public awareness of the value of the BEN and the conservation efforts of the MCL. Dwight donated $4750 personally to be matched by another $4750 from MCLUS to cover 2/3 of the proposed project costs. The MCL Board accepted our challenge and is working to raise their part, the additional $4750. So far our funds have provided two new trailers, tile in the shower stalls, hydrological study and pelton wheel in an effort to generate hydroelectricity for the San Gerardo field station to provide hot showers, electric lights and refrigeration.

MCLUS has helped to facilitate a second loan of $50,000 and another one for $20,000 to MCL at a better interest rate here in the U. S. than MCL was getting for the same loan at BancoNacional in Costa Rica, saving MCL substantial money. In all $120,000 has been loaned by individuals to MCL. The repayment of these loans is being done through MCLUS in order not to transfer funds to Costa Rica and then back again paying for bank transfers and money exchange twice. We are also paying the bills to the Wilderness Medical Association to provide the Wilderness First Responder course offered by MCL in the BEN. This cuts costs for MCL when paying bills in the U.S. We are also glad to continue to provide the service to the Monteverde Institute of processing their donations and course fees through our non-profit organization giving their donors tax-deductible donation status.
Rachel Crandell’s talks, book sales and eco-tours.
MCLUS continues to offer eco-tourism trips to the BEN as a fundraiser. In 2006 two trips were offered in June and in August for two weeks each with profits of almost $16,000. These profits are in addition to $200 tax-deductible gift from each trip participant amounting to $5,600 more in benefit to the BEN from the 28 participants. Three trips are planned for 2007, two to Costa Rica (one for teachers from Portland, OR) and one to Namibia in October. Two trips are already scheduled for 2008 for students from Fox River Country Day School in May and for the St. Louis Zoo trip in July. Rachel’s classes and talks given to schools and groups around the country brought in over $7000 in 2006.

Rachel’s children’s book Hands of the Maya has had successful sales with many copies sold by MCLUS with those profits directed for scholarships for Maya high school students in Belize. Rachel has contributed her royalties for that scholarship effort in order to help sustain those indigenous people’s efforts to conserve and preserve their local ecosystem and way of life. In 2006 these funds provided $3,500 in scholarships to students of Maya Centre Village in central Belize. MCLUS has also channeled funds for 3 scholarships to girls from the San Luis Valley to attend colegio (high school) in nearby Santa Elena in the Monteverde Zone. An additional scholarship is sending a girl from Meno Village on the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea to high school in Ambunti.

Other projects and actions.
Earth Day postcard appeal was just sent out a few weeks ago. This second mailing each year continues to bring in added funds from our faithful supporters. The message read:

Happy Earth Day 2007
Good News for El Bosque Eterno de los Ninos (BEN) in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Thanks to your strong response to the Land Purchase and Protection Campaign we paid off the in-holding piece of 250 acres of forest, the first land purchase added to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest since 1995!
Please join us in raising $100,000 in 2007 to purchase and protect corridor land for endangered species providing connected habitat between remaining forest fragments on the Pacific slope of the BEN essential to migrations. The sooner we buy, the more we can buy and protect. Land prices only go up.

Send your tax-deductible donation to
MCLUS
1128 Weidman Rd., Town and Country, MO 63017
See www.mclus.org for more details and secure online donations.

A side benefit from the audit was their recommendation that another person be involved in keeping track of the finances besides a husband and wife team. Jocelyn Quinto of our Board has willingly offered to review the finances periodically so that there is increased board oversight.

It has been five years since we received for our tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization from IRS, and therefore time to have our status reviewed for continued recognition by IRS. We are working through that process now.

E-Newsletters are going out periodically to our supporters and interested persons via internet. The E-Newsletters are being archived on our website www.mclus.org for your updated information.

UrutaDraga Project in Darien of Panama. Rogelio Cansari, head of the NGO, Water and Plants, an Embera Indian organization, has proposed a sustainable use of trupa palm fruits to extract a high grade nutritious oil for cooking. These indigenous people have the traditional knowledge to harvest and process the palm that is now endangered. They want to bring it back from the brink of extinction, plant it in plantations on land that was cleared in the past, harvest it, process it, and sell it. This would bring economic benefit to the people, save the species, and bring respect to the traditional knowledge. The Embera name for trupa palm is Uruta. The scientific name is (Oenocarpusbataua). The Panamanian government has rejected their grant proposal of $49,000 to support the project. MCLUS could be a facilitator by allowing donations from those interested in supporting this project to be given though our non-profit organization.

Saving the Embera Stories of TiempoAntiguo. Rachel has been asked by the Embera to help them record their stories that have never been written down and print them in a trilingual book. She has video-taped storytellers telling 89 stories in a dozen different villages along the Sambu River in Darien, Panama. Working with Rogelio Cansari as transcriber and translator, they now have 31 of the stories in Embera, Spanish and English. Embera artists are working on illustrations for each story. They hope to publish volume one within the next year and would like to accept donations for the publishing through MCLUS.

BEN School Contest Final Year. Our Student Ambassadors have had a wonderful time visiting the BEN, but because this effort has not brought in many additional schools to fundraise, and because it costs us to give away these trips, we recommend discontinuing the contest.

Reprint Brochure. It’s time to reprint our handsome brochure. We have gotten many admiring comments on the design done for us by Karen Shanuik. With some slight changes in wording, we reprinted including a supply for New Chapter to distribute in their outlets around the country.

2007 Fundraising Goal. In direct support of land purchase for the BEN we would like to raise $100,000 to enable the purchase and protection of corridor land on the Pacific slope of the Tilaran Mountains connecting the BEN with remaining patches of forest habitat.

Grant Applications and Inquiries. In 2006 MCLUS assisted MCL in applying for an $80,000 Tourism Cares international grant program. The application was unsuccessful, but we actually made a grant application after several years of non-activity in this area.

Collecting the Reminiscences in Celebration of MCL’s 20th Anniversary. Rachel has requested past members, board members, staff and volunteers of MCL to submit their individual stories and reminiscences to be included in a History of MCL, First 20 Years. Leslie Burlingame has volunteered to coordinate the collection and writing including annual reports and interviews.

Liability Insurance. We are investigating the possibility of carrying trip liability insurance to protect MCLUS.

Megafauna. MCL has partnered with the Monteverde Cheese Factory to create along the Pan American Highway a tourist attraction that consists of a trail winding through the woods with over 30 life-size statues of prehistoric creatures that would have (mostly) lived in Costa Rica millions of years ago. The Mega Fauna Theme Park is attracting a lot of attention and dollars. The statues were paid for by a member of the MCL board. The land belongs to the Cheese Factory. They bulldozed the road and will hire the guides. The revenues will be shared, and MCL’s part will be used to provide environmental education in the Monteverde Zone. The MCLUS trip to Costa Rica in March visited the Mega Fauna park.

UNESCO World Heritage Site. Letters have been written by Peter Raven, Rachel Crandell and many others to recommend the BEN to UNESCO for designation as a World Heritage Site. President Oscar Arias is in favor of this idea and has begun the process of nominating the BEN. This process can take some years.

Sister City, Estes Park, Colorado. Nick Mole from Estes Park made a film called “The Monteverde Experience” and will be shown in Colorado celebrating Monteverde as their Sister City. Nick has offered to send us a copy of the DVD. It should promote the BEN and bring us some good publicity.

Dickey Land. We have held the Dickey land for almost two years as we were required to do. It is unclear at this moment whether or not it will be more advantageous for us to give it to MCL and let them sell it, or if MCLUS should sell it and give the money.

Summary. The MCLUS officers and Board of Directors are pleased with our continuing progress and can forsee growing benefits to the BEN and every other activity which MCLUS supports. We have deep gratitude for the faithful and willing support of so many who have responded to our requests.

Treasurer”s Report for FY2006 – Available on request to: info@mclus.org

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