Environmental investigators seek to restore ‘monument to incompetence’

Environmental investigators are blaming public employees for the destruction of the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Las Camelias in Upala.

The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo has elevated the case to prosecutors and is seeking administrative action against workers in the Upala office of the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación.

The refuge came into being 20 years ago. The 64 hectares (about 159 acres) featured a lake and a host of creatures.

The Tribunal listed 240 species of birds, 30 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 148 species of plants.

The lake held gar fish, which the Tribunal correctly noted is a living fossil. The refuge also was a base for many migrating species.

That was then. Information supplied by the Tribunal says the refuge now is a pasture for buffalo, and someone has installed fences.

The Tribunal is ordering that the conservation offices eject any trespassers on the protected refuge.

José Lino Chaves, president of the Tribunal, said the situation is a monument to institutional incompetence.

The goal now is to bring back the lake. Toward that end, the Tribunal is seeking hydrological studies.

This is where the Las Camelias lake used to be.

This is where the Las Camelias lake used to be.

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