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Chihuahua grassland designated

December 8, 2009

This just in — Mexico is to be congratulated.  It appears that Chihuahua will be where the ecosystem of the Great Plains will attempted to be preserved —

Janos Biosphere Reserve Officially Designated

Protected area is Mexico’s first ever grasslands reserve

 JANOS, Chihuahua — After 9 years of conservation work by multiple partners working to protect endangered Mexican grasslands in the southern Spine of the Continent region, the Janos Biosphere Reserve has finally been officially designated via a decree signed today by Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

 Including 526,482 hectares (1,300, 410 acres), the Janos Biosphere Reserve is the first federally protected area in Mexico dedicated to protection of grassland ecosystems, which have been reduced to only about 7% of Mexico’s landscape. The Reserve will likely be one of the last large protected areas created in Mexico, according to conservation biologist, Dr. Rurik List, who initially completed most of the work on the project as Mexico Program Coordinator for the Wildlands Network (formerly Wildlands Project).

 The Janos Biosphere Reserve is one of the core stepping stones identified by Naturalia—one of Mexico’s largest conservation organizations–and Wildlands Network in 2000 as necessary to create a Wildlands Network Design linking the Rocky Mountains with central Mexico.  Both groups work with other partners in the “Spine of the Continent Initiative” — a continental effort dedicated to protecting a 5,000-mile Wildway between Alaska’s Brooks Range and Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental.

 “Designation of this area for protection is important not only for the benefits it will bring to Janos’s numerous grassland-dependent wildlife species, but also as a great implementation success story in our campaign to create safe passage for animals along North America’s longest wildlife corridor,” says Wildlands Network’s Kim Vacariu, who has worked with Naturalia to protect the Janos area for the past decade.

 As a final compliment to designation of the reserve, 23 genetically pure bison (free of cattle genes) were released last month on private land within the reserve.  The bison were transported to Janos from Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, and quarantined until their release on November 26. The reintroduced bison will now be used to start a breeding group from which bison will be reintroduced to other sites in an effort to restore their critical ecological role in the grasslands of northern Mexico.

 The Janos Biosphere Reserve will also be the site for release next week of 30 additional black-footed ferrets in the prairie dog towns within the reserve.

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