MCLUS Spring 2011 Newsletter – Inspiring Stories of Renewal from the Children’s Eternal Rainforest

Jorie
7 year old Jorie Bachus raised almost $1,300 for the Children's Eternal Rainforest!
Monteverde Conservation League, U.S.

Spring 2011

Dear Friends of the Forest,

New discoveries. New vision. New dynamics. Renewal is spring in action! In this issue you will read of the exciting March 2011 rediscovery of the Lichen Stream Frog in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, a species previously feared to be extinct. Mark Wainwright, MCL’s board president, and author of Mammals of Costa Rica, tells of this discovery in a letter to each of you.

Renewal is also what happens when an organization sets new goals as the Monteverde Conservation League (MCL) is doing. As stewards of this pristine rainforest, MCL is forging a new vision of the future

MCLUS, too, is reforming itself so we can be a constant support for the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. New MCLUS board members, with strong skills and passion for conservation, are joining a dedicated board. This dynamic creates exciting opportunities for growth!

In this spring newsletter we’re also sharing inspiring stories of support for the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. This includes seven-year-old Jorie’s birthday initiative to buy land for the forest. We are grateful to Tom Newmark, CEO of New Chapter, whose successful story of partnership with Whole Foods Market is described below.

Our guest blogger Mia Roberts has shared a wealth of information about visiting the Children’s Eternal Rainforest in her recent series of articles. And, if you’re ready for a Costa Rica adventure there is still time to join our Pocosol trip this summer. Space is limited and the trip is filling! You’ll find more details on the Pocosol trip page.

Whether it’s reforesting a barren pasture, creating eco-sensitive energy systems, buying critical habitat, or building a new information center – all are signs of progress being made for the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.

Wishing you a happy spring!

For the Forest,

Signed, Laurie Waller

Laurie Waller
President
Monteverde Conservation League U.S.
info@mclus.org

Jorie’s Story

Children saved this rainforest and they keep it growing. Seven year old Jorie is a child who cares deeply about her world. She wants a healthy planet and thriving rainforests.

Jorie in the Children's Eternal Rainforest

“My name is Jorie Bachus. I am 7 years old and in first grade. I love the rainforest because everything about it is important to us. It gives us oxygen and medicine, but what I love most is how many animals and plants live there. My Grandma and Grandpa have told us all about the Children’s Eternal Rainforest and this year my family got to go to Costa Rica and see some of it. It is amazing! This year, for my birthday, I asked my friends and family not to give me gifts but to help me raise money to help the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. I learned a lot about the Rainforest and tried to teach all of my friends. I even got to talk in front of my whole Girl Scout Troop. All of them were excited and helped me reach my goal of $1,000. We did it in two weeks and some people are still sending checks. I think we are almost at $1,300 now. In this next year I hope to raise a lot more.

When we went to Costa Rica I got to meet some of the people who work to save the Rainforest. I even got to meet the President of the Monteverde Conservation League, Mark Wainwright. They were all so nice and I like knowing who they are.

My sister Julia helped me a lot. We both liked going on a night hike in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. We didn’t see any big animals but saw a lot of really neat bugs. Our guide, Henry, knew a lot. My Grandpa went with us. He loves the Rainforest and so do we.”

Jorie with members of MCL staff and board members
Jorie with members of MCL staff and board members

Schools and students world-wide raise money for the forest!

Between 2009 and 2010, MCLUS received $13,400 from schools and academies whose students held fundraisers to support land purchase in The Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Ideas for raising money were unique and varied: bake sales, a karate memorial break-a-thon, note paper sales, home chores and home electric/water conservation, contributing birthday money, giving programs and collecting funds from other students who care about the forest, collecting deposit money from bottles and cans, sponsoring a silent and dress up day at school to raise money, read-a-thons, and writing stories about the rainforest. As you can see, when children put their minds and hearts to a good cause much innovation follows. MCLUS wishes to honor and thank those schools, students, teachers and parents who worked hard to raise awareness of the rainforest and give charitably to our organization.

Ada Vista Elementary School 4th Grade
Austin School 5th grade
Birney Elementary
Centerville Public Schools 5th Grade
Conway Elementary School
Dolores School Student Council
Eagle College Prep
Fort Worth Country Day School 1st Grade
Fulton School at St. Albans
Glenridge Elementary School
Hoover Karate Academy
Jennings Lodge School
Little Red School House
Mayo Elementary School 5th Grade
Memorial School Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, Nature Club and 4th Grade
Meyer School 5th Grade
Milton Academy 5th Grade
Molalla Elementary School
Nashoba Brooks School Kindergarten Class
Ninety-One School
Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital Junior School
Rundlett Middle School
Selwyn Elementary
St. Bede School 7th grade
Tara Redwood School Primary Class
The Gillispie School Kindergarten
The Principia School
Turkey Foot Middle School
Wolf Branch School
Woodland Country Day School 5th Grade
Worcester Preparatory School

New Chapter and Whole Foods Market team up again to donate to the CER!

Terry Newmark helps launch the St. Louis regional New Chapter promotion for the CER
Terry Newmark helps launch the St. Louis regional New Chapter promotion for the CER

New Chapter

The New Chapter Key Account Team and Tom Newmark are working with Whole Foods Market to raise money for the Children’s Eternal Rainforest (CER). Tom recently told the board of MCLUS that several stores in the Midwest, Northern California, and the Rocky Mountain regions have a month long fund raising campaign that supports the CER.

New Chapter encourages their vendors, in this case, Whole Foods, to help educate and support biodiversity and research for tropical rainforests in their Whole Body Departments. New Chapter’s products are currently being sold and displayed on store end caps with signage indicating that 5% of every purchase will go directly to the CER!

Whole Foods

This campaign is New Chapter’s vehicle for good and a win/win for everyone, New Chapter and Whole Foods alike. Individual Whole Foods stores that do the best with their educational efforts and also convey the strongest rainforest message to store customers have the opportunity to send their team members to New Chapter’s biodynamic farm, Luna Nueva, outside the CER. While there the store teams plant trees, hike, learn more about the rainforest and explore in the CER.

In 2010, Whole Food raised over $25,000 for the CER. They plan for even bigger returns in 2011. This past April approximately $45,000 was generated in CER donations! So, check out your local Whole Foods Store to see if the New Chapter display and products are being featured.

Click here to view more photos of the wonderful in-store displays

25th Anniversary Celebrations Continue

by Rowan Eisner, Monteverde, Costa Rica

MCL Facepainting

Walking through the rainforest

MCL continues to enjoy marking the results of the 25 years of hard work that created the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. On the 2nd and 9th of April they held a children’s event at the farmers’ market with face-painting, story telling, games and puzzles all focused on nature and animal themes.

On April 16th the Bajo del Tigre section of the reserve had an open day with guided walks, food, nature videos, forest creature face-painting, puzzles and know-your-forest activities in the casita (The Children’s Education Center).

Back in February, staff and associates of MCL gathered at Bajo del Tigre visitor center to hear the story of MCL from Bob Law – a 25 year timeline in pictures. The video of this and Bob’s slide show will soon be on MCL’s web site. They also planted punch berry trees (Myrcia splenders) which they had propagated in MCL’s nursery because there were only two left alive in the reserve. At the February assembly meeting at the main office everyone sang “happy birthday MCL” accompanied by a birthday cake.

Sleeping Sloth
Sleeping sloth at Bajo del Tigre open house

The biggest celebrations are yet to come. On May 1st Ecofest marks the occasion in art, nature and sustainability, highlighting eco-friendly alternatives such as solar cooking, pedal power, hydroponics and composting, with an art show and concerts.

At all such events people can check out the milestones along the way on the 25 year time-line banner with MCL depicted as a tree growing from the roots up, from 14 people meeting in Bob’s living room, into a flourishing canopy as part of a biosphere reserve with IUCN recognition.

 

A Thank You Letter from Mark Wainwright, President of the MCL Board of Directors

Monteverde, April 2011

Lichen Stream Frog
The Lichen Stream Frog rediscovered in the CER on March 30, 2011

Dear Friends of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest,

A few weeks ago (on the night of the March 30th), during an MCL-sponsored field trip to monitor amphibian populations, we were able to confirm the presence of the Lichen Stream Frog (Isthmohyla tica) on a remote ridge in the heart of the CER. The Lichen Stream Frog was thought to have vanished from the Monteverde area in the late 1980’s along with the Golden Toad and many other amphibians. Subsequently it disappeared from other parts of its tiny geographic range (a roughly 1500 ft elevational sliver extending from northwestern Costa Rica to western Panama), and many feared it might be extinct. This is the third time we have encountered the species on this one stream, but to my knowledge it is not known to occur today anywhere else in the world.

The Lichen Stream Frog is but one among tens of thousands of species of plants and animals protected within the CER. Yes – tens of thousands. The CER is home to about 3,000 species of vascular plants, including more than 500 orchid species; several hundred non-vascular plant species like mosses and liverworts; about 450 species of birds; we can only guess at the numbers for most insect groups but it seems reasonable to speculate that the CER harbors some 900 species of butterflies, perhaps 9,000 moth species, and perhaps 18,000 beetle species, just to mention a few. Undoubtedly, many of these organisms are as yet unknown to science.

The CER doesn’t only protect one of the most biologically rich ecosystems in the world. It is also the backbone of the protected area that is the primary attraction for ecotourism, the cornerstone of the local economy. And just as importantly, the CER protects an enormous watershed that provides clean and constant water for communities, agriculture, and hydroelectric projects – at present, the CER is fundamental to the production of about a third of Costa Rica’s electricity.

I throw these numbers at you because I want to drive home how immeasurably important it has been to protect these forests. All of these things would have been lost if it wasn’t for the help of caring people like you. Today we can continue our dream of safeguarding the existing CER and expanding it into critical areas thanks to the ongoing support of people like Tom Newmark, whose unwavering help has held fast despite the global economic crisis and extensive changes both at MCL and at MCLUS, or Jorie Howe, who requested that her friends and family celebrate her seventh birthday party with gifts to the CER. For example, a few months ago we finalized the purchase of a 250 acre piece of land of enormous importance. By protecting this piece of land, we simultaneously connected a previously disjunct piece of the CER to the rest of the protected area, closed an entry point for trespassing poachers and livestock, and protected a swath of what is arguably the most endangered type of forest in the region – the Premontane Wet Forest.

So on behalf of the beautiful Lichen Stream Frog, and all that it represents, I would like to express a heartfelt THANK YOU! for your essential help. Please take pride in the fact that your support makes all the difference, and know that it serves as further motivation for all of us here at MCL in Costa Rica to do everything in our power to make this magical achievement truly eternal.

Sincerely,

Mark Wainwright
President of the MCL Board of Directors

Renewable Energy Improvements in The Children’s Eternal Rainforest Field Stations

Rachel Crandell showing visitors the spring house at San Gerardo in 2008.
Rachel Crandell showing visitors the spring house at San Gerardo in 2008.

By Rowan Eisner – Monteverde, Costa Rica

QUESTION: How do you dry sheets in the rainforest?
ANSWER: See below!

Energy at the field stations

The field stations are the hub of activities in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Study groups, research projects, monitoring programs and, of course the income-generating tourism that keeps everything going all revolve around the field stations. So how do remote, off-grid locations meet comfort expectations when a group of thirty visitors may leave and another group arrive the same day?

Volcancitos, rivers and sun

Fifteen years ago San Gerardo (the current site of the San Gerardo field station on the Pacific side) was part of a “Tico*” farming community. The reserve acquired a hydropower generator to provide power for the community. Gradually, the small landholders left and now the 25kw generator is far too big: 10W would be enough. It is 1000 yards from the stations where the water pressure was too high, blowing the fittings and a tree fell on it. The plan is to swap it for a smaller generator, which uses less water and is closer to the station for easier maintenance.

The Pocosol field station on the Atlantic side also has a hydropower generator, but it is home-made from cups of cut pipe and a car differential. It is used to power lights and kitchen appliances like the blender. Pocosol also has volcancitos, or bubbling hot mud pots, half a mile away that could produce hot water if MCL can figure out the transport.

The challenge with hydropower is that the busiest time at the field stations is also the driest time. To solve this problem San Gerardo has inherited used solar panels from a Costa Rican indigenous community that has been connected to the grid and no longer uses the solar panels. When delivered these panels could be used for lighting and MCL is keeping an eye on the price of energy-efficient LED light bulbs. San Gerardo also has a diesel generator which produces more power than is needed for the washing machine and lights it currently powers, so that too will be sold for a smaller, more energy-efficient replacement.

Laundry: Until recently, washing sheets and towels meant two, 1 hour return trips to the nearest clothes drier on the all-terrain vehicle: expensive and time-consuming. But all that has changed with the new drying room at the San Gerardo station. Built from off-cuts of fallen trees with a poly-carbonate greenhouse roof, the 20×30′ drying room can reach a temperature of 120 degrees F inside and can get towels dry as quickly as one hour. Pocosol will get its own drying room soon, replacing an attic cupboard or hour- long road trips to a clothes drier. But, true to its name, solar drying will take longer with little sun. A trip to the duty-free zone in Golfito to buy a spare set of quick-dry sheets also helped. Now the station manager can stay at the field station and help with the change over between visiting groups rather than spend the day (and all that gas!) going to dry the laundry. This will be a great help this summer with the change over between groups, when five groups – each with 28 people – will be staying at the station.

2006 Dwight Crandell with stone masons Danne and Mike Rhaesa building the San Gerardo spring house
2006 Dwight Crandell with stone masons Danne and Mike Rhaesa building the San Gerardo spring house

Spring house construction completed complete with a coati proof door
Spring house construction completed complete with a coati proof door

Food: Salad for dinner? Fresh fruit for breakfast? Or how about fish for lunch? There is no refrigeration at the field stations, so anything fresh must be brought in frequently. Fish, for instance, needs to be picked up just before meal preparation. San Gerardo has a custom-built spring house which keeps food cool, and Pocosol uses ice boxes. Still, there is the time and cost of shopping trips and so MCL is looking into economical alternatives, including a kerosene refrigerator for the San Gerardo station.

Hot showers please! This is the number one request by guests. Currently, it is possible to make hot water by lighting a fire under the tank, but often there is no one to do it or no dry wood. Now that the solar drying room is in place at San Gerardo it should be possible to run solar hot water pipes through the room to make warm water for showers. The drawback is, with cold showers people only take 2 minutes to shower. With hot water, it would be hard to keep showers to 10 minutes.

Top energy priorities for the field stations:
Management: refrigeration
Visitors: hot showers

* “Tico” is a name that Costa Ricans call themselves.

Gratitude for Support from MCL in Costa Rica and MCLUS

Laurie Waller, MCLUS president, introduces Dr. Rainer Bussmann, Director of the William L. Brown Center and William L. Brown Curator of Economic Botany at the Missouri Botanic Garden
Laurie Waller, MCLUS president, introduces Dr. Rainer Bussmann, Director of the William L. Brown Center and William L. Brown Curator of Economic Botany at the Missouri Botanic Garden

April 28th was a reunion of kindred spirits, and an opportunity for MCL and MCLUS board members and staff to say “thank you” to friends and supporters of the CER.

April 28th was a  beautiful evening with a  view of downtown St. Louis from the Maryland Walk rooftop.
April 28th was a beautiful evening with a view of downtown St. Louis from the Maryland Walk rooftop.

St. Louis area supporters enjoyed a beautiful spring evening with camaraderie and refreshments on the roof-top at Maryland Walk in Clayton.

Carol Weisman, MCLUS’ governance consultant, friend of the forest, and her husband Dr. Frank Robbins, hosted the thank you reception and presentation by Dr. Rainer Bussman from the Missouri Botanical Garden. Dr. Bussman’s talk on “Protecting Tropical Forests and Keeping the Source of Traditional Knowledge Alive” gave new insights on rainforest conservation and the CER. Tom Newmark, CEO of New Chapter, shared inspiring remarks about his connection to this special forest and of successful reforestation. Laurie Waller, president of MCLUS, read a heartfelt thank you letter from Mark Wainwright, president of MCL’s board of directors and author of Mammals of Costa Rica.

Click here for more photos from this event

Have you missed guest blogger Mia Roberts’ fantastic series of posts about getting to know the Children’s Eternal Rainforest?

For the past couple of months, guest blogger Mia Roberts has written a wonderful series of posts about the CER that really take you inside. If you haven’t checked them out yet, please explore. Each post has vibrant pictures and descriptions of what you’ll find if you decide to take a trip to the CER.  Let us know if you like these posts!  Please send feedback to info@mclus.org or leave a comment on any posts you enjoy. Also feel free to share MCLUS blog posts with your friends and co-workers if you like!

April 27th, 2011 – Getting to Know the CER: the San Gerardo Field Station
April 19th, 2011 – The Pocosol Field Station
April 5th, 2011 – Peñas Blancas to Pocosol: The Ultimate CER Adventure
March 27th, 2011 – The Story of a Three Wattled Bellbird
March 17th, 2011 – An Interview with Marc Hoffman
March 12th, 2011 – Getting to Know the CER: Visit Finca Steller
March 7th, 2011 – Wildlife Sighting in the CER: Meet the Orange-bellied Trogon
February 28th, 2011 – Getting to Know the CER: A close-up of Bajo del Tigre
February 19th, 2011 – Exploring the Cloud Forest: Saving an ecosystem through innovative education
February 4th, 2011 – An Introduction to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest: Where is it, and how can you visit?
January 29th, 2011 – A New Way to Photograph Wildlife in the CER
January 27th, 2011 – An Introduction to MCLUS’s Newest Blogger

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