The La Cruz Habitat Protection Project is a different approach to protecting the Monarch overwintering sites and other endangered habitats in Michoacan. It has none of the characteristics of earlier efforts to save the Monarch. The Project is an individual effort that depends on individual support. It is different because it approaches the problem from the bottom up, not the top down, which seems to be a hopelessly cumbersome approach.
|Jose Luis Alvarez Alcala's Family
Patricia, Jose, Patricia's sister Sylvie
Jose Luis Alvarez Alcala may be one of those individuals who step forward at a critical point with an understanding of a problem and a possible approach that can make a difference. Jose was born in Juarez and has dual citizenship. He was educated in Mexico and the United States before going to France to study art at the age of eighteen. He returned to Mexico eight years ago and searched for a place where he could settle and raise a family. Jose bought a ranch, which he named Hacienda La Cruz, near Santa Clara de Cobre, a small town known for its copper crafts. It is not far from Patzcuaro and the Monarch sanctuaries in the transvolcanic mountains in Michoacan. After raising cattle and sheep at Hacienda La Cruz for three years, Jose saw what was happening to the land around him because of the campesinos' poverty. Jose committed himself, and his financial resources, to trying to improve the habitat in the Monarch buffer areas and to stop the siltation that has killed Lake Patzcuaro and is threatening Lake Zirahuen.
Using his personal savings and support from the Government of Mexico under a program that provided a percentage of the cost of the trees he propagated and planted, Jose Alvarez was, at one point, growing as many as three million trees. Due to the financial problems of the Mexican Government, this program is no longer funded and their support has ended. Even though the need is greater than ever and Vivero Hacienda La Cruz has the capacity to raise millions of trees, the lack of government support and the shortage of cash, which characterizes much of the Mexican economy, have made it necessary to seek other ways of trying to protect the Monarch overwintering sites and other habitats.
It is our belief that there are individuals in the United States and Canada who understand what a marvelous creature the Monarch butterfly is and are aware of the threat to its continued existence. These individuals might be willing to donate a small amount to stop the wearing down of the Monarch Habitat buffer areas in Mexico and to start two very significant habitat restoration and protection projects.
The restoration and protection of two lakes, Patzcuaro and Zirahuen, are another important aspect of the La Cruz Habitat Protection Project. Lake Patzcuaro is the site of the world famous butterfly fishing boats; it is nearly dead because of the runoff and siltation from the denuded slopes that drain into the lake. Lake Zirahuen is another lake near Santa Clara del Cobre that, so far, is nearly pristine. But it is also severely threatened by increased siltation.
It costs Vivero hacienda Cruz $.50 to propagate and transplant oyamel fir trees and other plant species. The La Cruz Habitat Protection Project is seeking individual contributions of $5.00 and up to purchase ten or more trees. The trees will be made available to the ejidos and will, for the first time, provide and alternative which will help maintain the blanket that protects the overwintering sites. The campesinos will have an alternative to the wearing down of the buffer area forest and other important habitat areas.
The La Cruz Habitat Protection Project will establish and maintain records that will show the source of contributions, the location where the trees planted, their progress, and their final use in the buffer area ejidos. Anybody who has made a contribution and comes to Michoacan and the State of Mexico will be able to see the trees at Vivero Hacienda La Cruz or in the habitat areas. Every effort is being made to show that their individual contributions are working to save the Monarchs.Last Updated: Feb 24, 1997: Jack Mikula / Neil Weininger