CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT
HOW YOU CAN HELP THE TORTUGUERO FOUNDATION
An increasing number of our wholesalers and guests have been asking us for suggestions as to how they can support conservation in Costa Rica by making a donation. As most of you know, in the past we founded and supported The Park Guard Fund dedicated to the well being of National Park Guards. In part due to that project, the living and working conditions of the Costa Rica National Park guards have improved considerably. It is time to move on. The new emphasis we have chosen is Tortuguero.
The town of Tortuguero is so remote and neglected that historically it has received virtually no attention from government at any level. The entire economic base comes from tourism, but the town's needs are more than the salaries that come from what tourism can provide.
In response to this situation, Costa Rica Expeditions has founded The Tortuguero Foundation with an initial donation of $5,000. The foundation's mission is to generate funds to help Tortuguero in 3 areas: Health, Education, and the protection of the wilderness area that is the village's basic economic resource.
Much of the foundation's work will be in cooperation with the Tortuguero Community Development Association. For the past three and a half years we have had the privilege to work closely with our very old and good friend and partner, Enrique Obando, the Tortuguero Community Development Association's dynamic president. During that time the association, which functions as a kind of combination of town government, civic association and Sierra Club, has been instrumental in denouncing and stopping the construction of an illegal road that, unbeknownst to the Park Service, was being built in Tortuguero National Park; in vastly improving elementary education in Tortuguero; starting the area's first high school, an innovative tourism vocational institution, which began classes at the start of the Costa Rican academic year in February '98; and raising funds and getting government matching funds for a potable water system.
Until now the Association's projects have been funded by ingenious persistence in promoting Costa Rican Government and international development funds and motivating the seven hotels in the area to contribute. Vital projects still need to be funded.
The Association still needs money for a host of projects. Among other things, additional funding is needed to provide partial scholarships so that 13 and 14 year olds can attend the new high school rather than have to work full time to provide their own and their family's subsistence.
Perhaps most important is the need for seed money to partially fund an initiative to respond to the fact that budgetary restraints have caused the number of park employees to drop from 42 to 14 since 1994. This has left the Costa Rican National Park Service without adequate resources to protect the park. The initiative which we are developing in cooperation with the Costa Rican National Park Service, involves the Community Development Association in employing guards to help protect the park from an increasing variety of threats including squatters, illegal hunting, fishing and deforestation, and an alarming increase in human predation on Tortuguero's world famous Green turtle nesting beaches.
The Tortuguero Community Development Association's proven record in making extraordinarily good use of its funds means that travelers can donate with confidence. Visitors to Tortuguero can arrange for a tour of the community in which they can see for themselves how the community confronts its problems and the important work that is left to be done.
To give a donation, please make your check out to: Fundación Tortuguero and mail it to:
Costa Rica Expeditions
P.O. Box 025331
Miami, FL 33102-5331
Note: This is a mail forwarding service only. We do not have offices in Miami. Please send only documents to this address as packages will not be accepted.