At this latitude, spring is the worst and most difficult time of year as it is the dry season. Climate change effects are evident, like higher than average temperatures, bringing with them a severe delay in rains and consequently a higher risk of forest fires. A year ago, under similar conditions, there was a large fire in Valle Verde that for almost a month was unstoppable. Springtime for us can be a scary time.
For that reason, GESG has been managing and leading inter-institutional work and coordination with all three levels of government so that we are much better prepared than we were last year. Through a partnership with World Land Trust, for the first time, we have our own brigade to help prevent and fight forest fires. They are based in Valle Verde and made up of 10 people who are properly-equipped. They´re all from the region and have previous experience in fire management. They´ve been tasked with clearing trails and making fire breaks that would help in the case that they should be necessary. They have repaired an observation tower which gives us an excellent lookout point to monitor much of the area, in addition, they have patrol routes and interact regularly with other property owners in the area. The only pending item is a course in fire management given by CONAFOR, which has been delayed due to the health contingency of COVID-19.
This brigade can be reinforced, if necessary, with 7 additional members from our team at GESG. This year, they´ve participated in putting out two fires to date (La Cercada and Los Galvanes Hill). In addition, in the region, we can count on the Federal Government which has 3 brigades (CONANP, CONAFOR) and the State Government of Queretaro (SEDEA) and the Directorates of Civil Protection of City Councils and Honorable Volunteer Fire Brigades in the region and the state. Even though the risk is always latent, we are without a doubt better prepared to combat fires in the region and better able to protect the reserves.
On the other hand, we had an extraordinary capture on our wildlife camera, for the third time we caught a black bear on tape. This is only the third such registry of this endangered species in Central Mexico in the last 3 years. In footage from the same camera, we also saw a jaguar and puma. For there to be three predators in the same area coexisting, speaks to the health of the forests in this zone. It is an honor for us to share with you this event:
Apart from that, our park rangers have had a presence in all of the reserves with their rounds and reinforcing fences. We´re in the process of buying another property to add to the Cerro Prieto reserve an additional 100 hectares, with the support of World Land Trust. WLT partnered with the famous Finnish band, Nightwish, to show their support for biodiversity conservation in the Sierra Gorda mountains through this spectacular video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VshpPBBehxE