The Final Leatherback Battle Has Begun (update on bill 17.383)
What might be the final and decisive battle in the decade long war over the fate of Leatherback sea turtle (Las Baulas) National Park in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, has begun.
On March 4th the presidentially sponsored bill 17.383 that proposes to downgrade Las Baulas to a national wildlife refuge and pave the way for private landholders to develop their plots inside the existing National Park’s turtle nesting buffer zone, was officially presented before the Legislative Assembly’s nine member Environmental Commission. If approved by the Environmental Commission, the bill would move to a plenary vote where members of President Oscar Arias’ Liberation party hold a controlling majority and have been instructed to not stand in its way.
Late last year it looked as though support for the bill was waning and park supporters began to harbor the belief that the Costa Rican government had come to its senses and would turn its interest away from a handful of rich private interests and towards the responsible governing of this small Central American country. Nope.
Instead, a rushed technical report that justifies the bill was slapped together. In effect, the report takes all of the conclusions from the country’s most noted agencies – including prominent reports from groundwater authorities, notable scientific reports from international NGOs, among others – and completely discombobulates figures and facts to support the Park’s demise. And although court order after court order supports the need to expropriate these privately held lands, special interests refuse to cooperate and negotiate a fair market value for their possessions. Because of this the government cannot begin to reacquire crucial Park acreage.
To send a letter of support to the Costa Rican government for Las Baulas National Park , please follow the instructions below.
In addition, please spread the word about the atrocities that are happening to the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle in this “ecologically conscious” country. It’s time to stop these private interests from dictating whether or not our children will get the chance to experience these beautiful animals.
Costa Ricans and foreigners are encouraged to defend the park by writing personal letters to Senora Hania M. Durán at the Legislative Assembly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Costa Rica created Las Baulas National Park by Law in 1995, acknowledging the country’s responsibility the most viable leatherback nesting beaches in the Eastern Pacific. Unfortunately, I’m aware that this Honorable Commission is reviewing bill 17.383 to amend the Law and downgrade the park to a national wildlife refuge, something that would alter critical leatherback nesting habitat. I’m also aware of the State Attorney’s and the Constitutional Court’s rulings that mandate the Government of Costa Rica to immediately proceed with the expropriation of lands within the Park’s boundaries for their permanent protection.
I therefore urge this Commission to uphold the aforementioned Court rulings, and reject this bill.