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Butterfly Habitat Protection

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 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.

UPDATE 2019:

La Cruz Habitat Protection Project is now Forests for Monachs - dedicated to protecting the monarch butterfly and other endemic species by reforesting the land surrounding the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, and to promote sustainable forest management among the local landowners for their economic benefit and forest conservation. Learn more at their website.

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