Early end to the rainy season and price fixing.

April 3-9, 2006

In my first official week as Field Projects Manager I can honestly say we had a little of everything on my first day… drought, lack of running water and a temporary invasion of both bats and cats. The most important thing accomplished was that after four days without water we found a delivery truck to fill up the water tank and reprovide the household with running water. Fortunate for us because much of the town is still without running water due to the early end to the rainy season and price fixing by local truckers.

The week was overall quite productive, particularly during our field tour with the City Hall and Planning Department staff on Monday. We headed out to the El Toro drainage and Maria Dolores Valley to identify high priority areas to revegetate and the landowners who own them. By the end of the day we had talked to five landowners who were interested in having trees go in this year or next. In Maria Dolores we met with the local community representative in the row houses about halfway up the valley. Weather permitting we are going to do a community planting on a Saturday afternoon with the 25 families in the neighborhood threatened by the hillside. The community rep has volunteered to not only remove the corn field from above, but also organize workers to maintain and clear the sites as they have been asking for reforestation of the hillside for several years.

In El Toro at the Espinozas’, our trees are feeling the effects of no rain in nearly two weeks. We will keep trying to buy a tank of water for them, however the residents themselves have only been able to find a truckload for $60 US (and no one wants to deliver out there). Last week we gathered up all our trees on their land and stashed them next to the river under a Moyoyu tree with branches laid up against it to better shade the sun. The area across the river on the Gutierrez land now has trails cut throughout and holes are cleared to place and plant trees if we have a night of rain. On Friday we checked that all was well and watered the latest plantings and those under the Moyuyo. 

Mark and Catherine went around last week and made a collection of boxes, pop bottle cases and crates to carry trees to and from the sites. Lately we have been having considerable losses even before we plant the trees so we are going to test a variety of ways of carrying them and see what works best. Heather, a new volunteer with the same name as the former Field Projects Manager, and Brooke also sewed some sleeves into a few feed bags to see if would could use those in some way. Let the contest begin!

Although the delivery of compost from the city has not yet arrived, our changes to the compost system at the greenhouse appear to be successful. Having covered the trench alongside the greenhouse with black plastic we now generate usable compost in about a month. The key appears to be the heat within the pile and being better able to turn it (now every two days). Our first batch is currently being used in almost 400 transplants from the vivero (greenhouse) last week… and the seedlings love it!

Following our work last week at Cerro Seco for Marcelo Luque and his volunteers, we all teamed up on Wednesday to take care of our business up at Bosque Encantado. With 16 people in four groups we widened all the trails and located/released all 200+ trees from amongst the vines and shrubbery. A taligate watermelon session followed with Ricardito Lopez, who owns the land (photo will be attached here soon).

I met with the landowner from La Cruz and we did a quick tour of his property together last week. Although there is no room for more plants on his land, there is an adjacent parcel owned by the city that is considered high risk. Following the field tour we are discussing the possibility of planting this area as I was also approached by a number of La Cruz locals who would like to stabilize the area or start a small urban park similar to Bosque en Media de Las Ruinas.

Speaking of urban parks, the volunteers headed up to start the trail maintenance Peter Berg mentioned during his visit to Bosque en Media de Las Ruinas. The trails are now cleared and the main path has 3 feet of clearance. Some larger wood that had fallen down was also taken out. I met with Elva last week and we are going to arrange a larger work party with the EcoKids to do some work ‘en juntos’ (together). Mark and Heather seem to be quite excited by this opportunity and will be taking a leading role given their past experience. 

Hasta pronto,

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