Saturday, February 24, 2007


And here follows the rest of the "Official Denunciation" letter to save the coastal mangrove zone between La Manzanilla and Boca de Iguanas....
As well, the cumulative environmental impacts of these construction projects are affecting, and will negatively affect, the habitats for refuge, roosting, and feeding of the following aquatic and terrestrial birds also cited in NOM-059-ECOL-2001 and found in the La Manzanilla mangrove: Least Storm Petrel (Oceanodroma microsoma), Least Grebe (Tachypatus dominicus), Wood Stork (Mycteria americana), Mangrove Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus), Heermann´s Gull (Larus heermanni), Elegant Tern (Sterna elegans), Orange-fronted Parakeet (Aratinga canicularis), and Pale-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis); In addition, the following species’ nesting grounds will be effected: Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius), Green-backed Heron (Butorides virescens) and Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga).
Fundamentally, the realization of these individual construction projects represents an urban subdivision with service infrastructure and roads in this coastal mangrove zone. Thus, we are requesting that all current projects be evaluated under the terms of the aforementioned Article 11 Ordinance and that the developers and the Municipality of La Huerta, Jalisco, be required to complete a “Regional Mode” EIS. Likewise, we request that the already authorized projects, or projects in the process of authorization, be treated under the terms of Article 16 of the same Ordinance, and that the generated environmental impacts be analyzed and revised. Finally, we request that the current projects underway in the aforementioned coastal mangrove zone be halted until revised environmental impact statements are fulfilled and made available to the public.

Furthermore, in light of many of the construction projects in the La Manzanilla/Boca de Iguanas coastal mangrove zone—from small palaces to substantial houses, the majority of which are inhabited by temporary residents—that SEMARNAT is treating as “one-family dwellings”, we request that SEMARNAT officially declares what exactly is meant by this term. It seems that the lack of criteria surrounding this term is leading to environmental overuse, and in some cases, abuse.

In addition to the supposed “one-family dwellings”, the other principal concern is the construction of condominium units bordering the mouth of the mangrove exactly at its point of confluence with the ocean, violating the aforementioned presidential decree and the Ecological Ordinance Plan of of the Costalegre by:

1. Compromising of the integrability of the hydrologic flow of the mangrove.
2. Compromising zones of nesting, reproduction, shelter, feeding and breeding for the American crocodile and the Olive Ridley and Leatherback sea turtles.
3. Surpassing the carrying capacity of the surrounding mangrove and dune ecosystems.
4. Provoking a negative change in the ecological services and the natural beauty of the mangrove and dune ecosytems.

We request that this project as well be halted until it is reviewed by appropriate authorities who can comment on its viability regarding environmental impacts that have been thus generated, and will continue to be generated if it is allowed to continue.

In sum, we are concerned that if the current residential and tourist development is allowed to continue without restrictions, the zone of La Manzanilla, Boca de Iguanas, and Tenacatita Bay in general (one of the five biggest bays in Mexico) will confront the following environmental risks:

1. Proliferation of uncontrolled urban developments that undermine the sustainable development of Tenacatita Bay.
2. Removal and destruction of dune vegetation due to the construction of retaining walls over it.
3. Overuse of critical fresh water from the same aquifer that replenishes the mangrove and provides water to the coastal communities of the area.
4. Contamination of the mangrove and ocean due to the lack of grey and black water systems, or due to systems that are not up to ordinance code—i.e., they are not re-using grey and black water.
5. Construction of two-,or more, story structures that block the view of the ocean and mangrove thus compromising the aesthetic value of this area.
6. Destruction of nesting sites of endangered birds and reptiles cited in NOM-059-ECOL-2001 which will lead them to have to modify their behavior in order to survive.
7. Alteration and/or destruction of the refuge, feeding, and roosting habitats of aquatic and terrestrial birds cited in NOM-059-ECOL-2001.

With the best future interests of the citizens, and of the environment, of La Manzanilla, we submit this urgent request for an immediate halting of all coastal development between the beach and the mangrove of La Manzanilla and Boca de Iguanas. The current developments pose a grave threat not only to the fragile dune and mangrove ecosystems and the threatened wildlife that inhabit them, but as well to the future prosperity of the citizens of La Manzanilla. The mangrove and beach dunes of La Manzanila are critical wildlife habitat. This means that they are a sustainable source of tourism dollars for many years to come. As well, the mangrove protects La Manzanilla from catastrophic hurricanes and floods, ensures a healthy fishery, and maintains water quality in Tenacatita bay due to its natural filtering effects.

Please help us protect one of Mexico´s richest and rarest coastal zones from destructive development, and help us insure sustainability of this fragile ecoregion. Please immediately halt all destructive coastal development between the beach and mangrove of La Manzanilla and Boca de Iguanas until official inspections are made by appropriate authorities, and environmental impact statements are made public to the concerned citizens of these communities.

To confirm this denunciation, and for accompaniment to the noted sites, you can contact Natalia Uribe Morfín at (315) 351-7146, or by e-mail: The address is Paraíso 15, corner of María Asunción, La Manzanilla, Jalisco. La Manzanilla is located at km. 14 on Highway 200 from Melaque to Puerto Vallarta, and its beach belongs to the grand Tenacatita Bay.

Thank you in advance for your consideration and prompt response.


Dave Collins Gabriela de la Vega Dorrie Woodward Natalia Uribe

Sebastián Ambriz Víctor Amescua Pablo Martínez del C. Mercedes

Ana Luisa Solis Mercedes Gargollo María Castelazo Willy Mason

Kimberly Mason Miguel Martinez Ma. De Jesús Mtnez. Juli Julian Wagner

Charles Schuete Paul Spong Helena Symonds Milora Spong

Norma Rejall Ani Mac


Dear Citizens,

The following "Official Denunciation" will be open for signing until Thursday, March 1, at El Girasol Bistro from 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m., every day but Sunday. After this date it will be sent to a number of government agencies, including SEMARNAT, PROFEPA, and the Municipality of La Huerta, as well as the press. We are also SOLICITING the backing of several Mexican NGOs, foundations and universities such as Tortuga Negra, A.C.; Ecological Foundation, A.C.; UNAM Biological Station, Centro Universitario de la Costa Sur (Univ. of Guadalajara), and PRONATURA to name a few. As well, we are already allied with the University of Nevada, Earthwatch Institute, Greenfire Productions, and the Land Trust Alliance.

But more than anything, we need to show the support of concerned citizens like you in order to halt the insidious, unregulated development of the coastal mangrove zone between La Manzanilla and Boca de Iguanas. Democracy should be more than two wolves and a sheep sitting down and deciding what to have for dinner! Show your support for your community and ecosystem. Take a moment to read the following letter and consider signing it. Together, we can make a difference. Thank you!

P.S. If you are not physically here to sign, but would like to support this campaign, please request an electronic copy of the letter from me. Then you can sign the last page, and scan it or fax it to me: 315-351-5341.

P.P.S. Since this letter is too large for the La Manzanilla Message Board, it will have to be sent in several parts. Please bare with me.


La Manzanilla del Mar
Municipio de La Huerta, Jalisco, México
February 23, 2007

To Whom it May Concern:

We are requesting that all the current coastal developments bordering the beach and the mangrove of La Manzanilla and Boca de Iguanas be immediately halted until official inspections pertaining to this zone are made by appropriate authorities, and environmental impact statements are made public to the concerned citizens of these communities. Furthermore, we are requesting that all environmental impact statements be revised in light of the new presidential decree signed by President, Felipe Calderón, on December 22, 2006, that restricts construction and development activities in coastal mangroves.

The newly decreed Article 60 of the General Wildlife Law states that: “It remains prohibited the removal, filling, transplanting, pruning, or whatever other work or activity that effects the integrability of the hydrologic flow of the mangrove; of the ecosystem and its zone of influence; of its natural productivity; of the natural carrying capacity of the ecosystem for tourism projects; of the zones of nesting, reproduction, shelter, feeding and breeding: either the interactions between the mangrove, the rivers, the dune, the adjacent maritime zone and the corals, or that which provokes changes in the characteristics and ecological services. Works or activities that have as their objective to protect, restore, investigate or conserve mangrove areas will be exempted from the prohibition referred to in the preceding paragraph”

In addition to not being in accordance with the new presidential decree, the current developments are neither in accordance with the Ecological Ordinance Plan of the Costalegre, which emphasizes the necessity of low density infrastructure due to the presence of a highly fragile environment.

According to Article 11 of the Ordinance of the General Law of the Ecological Equilibrium and the Protection of the Environment in Material of Evaluation of the Environmental Impact, the following activities require an environmental impact statement (EIS) for their evaluation and possible authorization: “Q) Property Developments that Effect Coastal Ecosystems: Construction and operation of hotels, condominiums, villas, urban housing developments, restaurants, commercial installations and services in general, marinas, docks, breakwaters, golf courses, tourist or urban infrastructure, general communication thoroughfares, works of restitution or recovery of beaches, or artificial reefs, that effect coastal ecosytems….” As well, activities that must present an EIS are: “R) Works and Activities in Wetlands, Mangroves, Lagoons, Rivers, Lakes and Swamps connected to the ocean, as well as its littoral and federal zones….”. “One-family dwellings”, among other activities, of coastal communities remain exempt from having to present an EIS for these activities.

Although many of the current construction projects bordering the beach and the mangrove of La Manzanilla and Boca de Iguanas are under the “one-family dwelling” exemption, Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) is not considering the cumulative impacts of these individual projects that are provoking the destruction and fragmentation of this ecosystem. Nor is it considering the loss of dune vegetation nesting habitat for the American crocodile (Cocodrylus acutus), Leatherback (Demochelys coriacea) and Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtles as a result of construction in this coastal zone. These three species are cited in NOM-059-ECOL-2001, that notes endangered species, species in danger of extinction, or species under special protection. Under the current development, the fragile dune habitat crucial to these species’ survival has already been demolished by bulldozers!

Friday, February 23, 2007

No Crowds? No Rush? In Mexico, No Problemo

A 3 page article

By M.L. Lyke
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, December 3, 2006; Page P01

It takes a day or two in La Manzanilla to spot the symptoms. There's the flat tire on the rental car that has gone nowhere in seven days, the book buried in the sand facedown, the gringo who can't remember what day it is, the old local waving hola from his hammock.

Expats call the phenomenon "the great sand suck."

Extreme cases become the stuff of legend, like the Oregon tourist plopped in a beach chair who couldn't decide whether to go barefoot or wear sandals. He started mulling the question in the morning. At 5 p.m. he was still in the same spot. Same chair, one sandal on, one off. "I meant to go someplace," he said with a shrug.

Even the roosters seem afflicted in this dusty little Mexican fishing village, a hushed-up spot that's still off the clock and, for a while yet, off the tourist track. The scrawny birds go off at all hours -- midnight, 2 a.m., breakfast time, lunchtime, margarita time -- their hoarse, halfhearted cock-a-doodle-doos signifying nothing in particular.

"Nothing" may have a bad name north of the border, but down here on Mexico's west coast, some four hours south of Puerto Vallarta along the Costa Alegre (the Happy Coast), finding the dada of nada is a fine pastime. "I'm listening to the space between the waves," a music-teacher friend told me, planted in her chair on Day 4 of vacation, eyes closed, face to the sea, listening to the gentle surf that rises, sighs and foams across a long, low-slope beach.

La Manzanilla isn't fancy, not even close, despite a growing number of handsome architect-designed rentals and a smattering of new galerias. There are no resorts, no sports bars, no souvenir shops, no time-share pitches, no prepackaged special deals. Regulars, who urge others to keep this pretty hideout secret, pack pesos: There are no banks, no bank machines, no plastic, no traveler's checks.

What you get for those pesos -- and you won't need many -- are friendly townsfolk used to mingling with gringos, a dreamy sweep of beach backed up to tropical jungle, and time, the kind of soak-in time that untangles thoughts, unknots muscles and transforms foot-tapping Type A's into Type Z's, full on empty.

Angling for Nothing

Laid-back La Manzanilla is often confused with the busy port of Manzanillo, less than an hour to the south. That "a" at the end makes all the difference. Big Manzanillo has a population of more than 100,000. Little "La Manz" may have 3,500 in peak season, including winter residents, native locals and the Mexicans who come from inland, their trucks packed with inflatable water toys, kids and grandparents riding overstuffed chairs in the pickup bed.

The town lies cupped in the protected southeastern reach of the Bay of Tenacatita, and even water-sissies like me can spend hours boogie-boarding the soft, rolling wavelets, riding right up onto the beach, with a bathing suit full of sand and the kind of silly grin you see on a 6-year-old, sure of her safe delivery to shore.

I've been coming to La Manzanilla three years running, staying in beautiful beachfront suites for less than $100 a night in high season. Get off the beach and you can easily halve that. If you hit the street taquerios for $1.50 tacos or cook up a nice pot of refrieds with serrano chilis to put inside the fresh tortillas made steps down the street, you can enjoy slacker paradise on a comfy budget.

Pencil in at least a couple nights out, though. The town has a good, eclectic mix of restaurants serving traditional Mexican dishes, super-fresh seafood and chef creations such as shrimp and spinach crepes, Thai curries and octopus salad.

The first year, I came to La Manzanilla because I'd heard about the fishing. The waters offshore teem with tuna, marlin, sailfish, snapper and dorado, gorgeous pescado that leap neon yellow and green and blue from the warm Pacific. Fishermen cast small, weighted seine nets, or pole-fish with line and jig to bring in roosterfish right off the beach. Locals also offer guided fishing trips in open boats.
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La Manzanilla, a village of approximately 1,500 indigenous and winter residents, is located in the southwest corner of the state of Jalisco along what is known as Costalegre (Costa Alegre) or the "happy coast".

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La Manzanilla Board