Central American Director Randall Arauz recently spent a week at STRP's offices in West Marin and had his hands full when boarding the plane to return to Costa Rica. Arauz carried more than 300 postcards and petition signatures and comments from more than 2,000 STRP members and people from around the world to the desk of President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica calling for full protections for Pacific leatherback sea turtles at Las Baulas National Park.
Arauz also hand-delivered a letter from 150 scientists and environmental groups to halt plans to allow building of beach houses, condomiums and other structures next to the last nesting beaches for Pacific leatherbacks left in the world. Download the letter as a PDF file.
Executive Director Todd Steiner sent along with the stack of communications a personal letter addressed to President Arias challenging his commitment to global climate change protections in the international arena. Download Todd's letter with the presidential seal or read it below. President Arias spoke at the United Nations in September and is angling for a prominent role at the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen in December. Yet the president is turning his back on the leatherbacks and sea turtle habitat at home. Read Todd's letter below:
The Honorable Oscar Arias
President of Costa Rica
Dear President Arias:
I want to thank you for your eloquent speech at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday, September 22, 2009, about the need for action on global warming, the single-most pressing global issue that threatens human communities and the natural world. Clearly, your remarks were based on the best knowledge available from the scientific and conservation community.
However, I do not understand why you have not applied this same science-based approach to decisions your administration is taking on the protection of Las Baulas National Park.
I am aware that you have already heard from some of the world’s best scientists, some of the world’s most influential conservation organizations and thousands and thousands of Costa Rica citizens as well as concerned people from around the world calling on you and your majority party in the Costa Rican Congress to increase, not decrease, protections for Las Baulas National Park. This park is the world’s most important nesting site in the Eastern Pacific for critically endangered leatherback turtles. Enclosed with this letter are postcards and petitions from thousands more concerned citizens around the world.
It was reported in TIME Magazine on October 10, 2009, that you are interested in a global leadership role on climate change, yet your administration is pushing to allow development directly behind the current nesting sites for leatherback turtles, which is contrary to good climate change and conservation policy.
As sea levels rise, sea turtle nesting beaches will be flooded and the turtles will have to find nesting sites further inland from today's shoreline. Your proposed legislation will doom these turtles ability to adapt to inevitable changes that will be caused by sea level rise if this zone is developed for human habitation.
Even if some of the most endangered turtles in the world didn’t nest in this zone, this proposed action would be contrary to prudent regulation by any nation seriously contemplating adapting to the inevitable changes that global climate change will bring. Sea rise is inevitable and is occurring and will continue to occur—even if we could immediately eliminate al new sources of global warming gasses.
We ask you to withdraw your Party’s proposal and join with the world that is trying desperately to rescue this magnificent species from extinction. In so doing, you would simultaneously be showing the world that you as President, are moving forward with policies that address not only ways to curb the causes of global warming, but also the inevitable impacts that the best scientists already predict will become a reality in the few decades.
Failure to act will call into question your ability to assume global leadership role on climate change.