New Guatemalan Reserve To Protect Threatened Birds, Endangered Frogs, And A Blue Viper

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Conservationists are celebrating the Guatemalan Government’s formal establishment of a new 47,000-acre (19,013 hectare) protected area in Guatemala that will safeguard some of the country’s most endangered wildlife. The reserve is home to three species of threatened birds, a host of migratory birds that breed in the United States, a dozen globally threatened frogs and salamanders, five found nowhere else in the world and the rare Merendon palm-pitviper (Bothriechis thalassinus), an arboreal, blue-toned venomous snake.

The National Congress of Guatemala established the National Protected Area on May 13 by an overwhelming pro-conservation vote of 106 in favor out of a total of 125 Congressmen present in the session. It is the first new protected area designated by congress in Guatemala in nine years.

The Core Zone of this new protected area, the 6,000-acre Sierra Caral Amphibian Conservation Reserve, was established in 2012 by Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación with assistance from American Bird Conservancy, Global Wildlife Conservation, Southern Wings, World Land Trust, and others. The conservation value of the area is reflected in its previous designation as a global Alliance for Zero Extinction site, owing to its status as the last place on earth providing habitat for Wake's hidden salamander.

Tucked away in the eastern corner of Guatemala near the Caribbean Sea and running along the Honduran border, the newly protected area is named the Sierra Caral Water and Forest Reserve due to its location in the Sierra Caral mountain range in the Caribbean municipality of Morales, Izabal Department. Along with other forested sites in the region, Sierra Caral contains critical overwintering and stopover sites for nearly 120 species of neotropical migratory birds, along with 13 species that are regionally endemic and three threatened species: Highland Guan, Great Curassow, and Keel-billed Motmot. Migratory birds include the Canada Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Wood Thrush, Painted Bunting, Worm-eating Warbler, and Louisiana Waterthrush. Thirty-three migratory species with population declines in their breeding grounds have been reported in Sierra Caral.

Exploration of these mountains over the past two decades has yielded several new discoveries of beetles, salamanders, frogs, and snakes. At least 118 species of amphibians and reptiles are reported for this area including seven endemic amphibians only recently discovered there.

“We have been working to obtain the legal declaration of this new protected area for more than seven years,” said Marco Cerezo of FUNDAECO, a leading Guatemalan conservation organization. “Finally, the biological importance of Sierra Caral has been recognized by our National Congress. This new protected area brings us a step closer toward our dream, which is the conservation of key stop-over and wintering habitats for migratory birds along their flyway across Caribbean Guatemala.”

“Guatemalan officials demonstrated great vision in establishing this protected area,” said Andrew Rothman, Migratory Bird Program director at ABC. “They have preserved a key link in the migration corridor between North and South America for migratory birds and ensured North American breeding songbirds will have stopover and wintering ground habitat to use during migration. Without question, it is a key addition to Central America’s roster of protected areas.”
 
Thousands of years ago, the Sierra Caral Mountains were likely islands where species evolved that are found nowhere else. With the additional convergence of North and South American flora and fauna in this region, Sierra Caral is one of the most unique places for wildlife on Earth.

Sierra Caral had been steadily deforested over the past decade. Rampant clear-cutting and conversion of the forested mountain slopes into cattle pastures has degraded freshwater drinking sources for surrounding communities. Because of this, FUNDAECO and local community representatives persuaded the Guatemalan congress to declare the area a nationally protected area.




TWRA Introduces Tackett Creek Unit Of North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area

The TWRA has entered into a lease agreement with Molpus Timberlands Management, LLC to lease 43,000 acres, which is being utilized as the Tackett Creek unit of the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. Located in both northeastern Campbell and northwestern Claiborne counties, the property, which has been historically used as a Public Hunting Area, is now in a five-year lease ... (click for more)

Billy LaGrange Named Southeastern Association Of Fish And Wildlife Agencies Tennessee Wildlife Officer Of The Year

Billy LaGrange has been named the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officer of the Year for the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA). The award recipient was announced by Col. Darren Rider, TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement Division Chief.           Mr. LaGrange is a wildlife officer ... (click for more)

Erlanger Refinancing To Provide Cash For New Children's/Women's Hospital, $50 Million Erlanger East Expansion, $8.5 Million Surgical Improvements

Erlanger Health System officials said an overhaul of the hospital's debt will include $70 million in new loans for several major hospital projects - including $11.5 million toward a new $30 million Children's/Women's Hospital. The overall cost of the latter facility is $30 million, but the hospital is seeking significant outside gifts and support. It will also pay for a $50 million ... (click for more)

Legendary Radio Broadcaster Luther Dies At 92 After Record 74 Years On The Air; Funeral Will Be Thursday At 2 PM At Engel Stadium

Legendary radio broadcaster Luther Masingill died early Monday morning at Memorial Hospital surrounded by family and friends. He was 92 and had been on the air for a record 74 years. Funeral services will be held on Thursday at Historic Engel Stadium, 1130 E 3rd St., at 2 p.m. with Pastor Todd McElyea officiating.   Honorary pallbearers will be the staff at ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Lost Its Most Popular Citizen - Luther Masingill

Chattanooga has lost its most popular citizen – Luther Masingill. Although we are saddened we cherish the memories.  All of us have a Luther story.  Mine is the first time I met Luther.  This was before TV and all of Chattanooga listened to Luther on the radio.  I was 12-years-old.  Some of my buddies and I had gone to the State Theater in downtown ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: An Election Day Fable

Every day I am peppered with emails that friends send to me from across the country so I am unsure of where the fable you are about to read originated. But with early voting for the November general election now in full swing, I think everyone who will -- or will not -- take part in freedom’s greatest privilege should read this story because I believe there is a great lesson contained ... (click for more)