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Fare forward traveler.

We are so sad to share the news of the passing of Sally Eva Silverstone, also known as Sierra, who was the director of Las Casas de la Selva from 1997 to 2007.
On 24th September 2020, she passed away in Bali, where she has lived for the last decade working with the Biosphere Foundation.

I met Sierra in 1999, having arrived at Synergia Ranch full of the excitement of a three-year voyage on the RV Heraclitus. I was ready for anything. For four years we were co-chefs on the annual 2 weeks African Drum & Dance Bantu Festival. I remember the day Sierra asked me if I wanted to go to Las Casas de la Selva to help her run Earthwatch Teams. I knew very little about the project, but suddenly I was planning a whole new life adventure. Christmas in Puerto Rico. I jumped in whole-heartedly and arrived in a rainforest, culture, and country I knew nothing about. Soon I was working with Sierra on regular trips from Santa Fe to PR at least four times a year.
Sierra and Mark had made a successful proposal to The Earthwatch Institute to survey the hardwood plantations of the project. Sierra had been involved in the early 80s when the tree planting started, and 40,000 valuable hardwood trees were planted at that time. We spent many happy hours in the forest leading teams of citizen scientists from all over the world, measuring hundreds of trees over several years, and I always admired Sierra’s forthright way of dealt with everyone, and we had a few nutters who signed onto Earthwatch Teams along the way! I learned so much about the forest at that time.

Sierra always encouraged me in everything at Las Casas, and in 2003, we headed up our first harvesting of Blue Mahoe, with a small crew. In 2004 Sierra gave me the reins to take on the wood production side of the project, and we carried out another successful harvest, milling, and drying. I give thanks today that Sierra had confidence in me and gave me the freedom to manifest. That manifestation continues today, and I know that Sierra, wherever she is now, is beaming and nodding her head at the project’s blossoming.
Fareforward traveler.
Thrity

Elegy to Sierra

What is the measure of a life well-lived,
How to say what gave her pleasure
Or to the watching world gave meaning?
Was it trees and plants that grew
Remembering the gardener that was you
Or laughter tinkling in the air,
Echoes of you who once was there?
Or drums and bells the living made
To honor you once you were gone,
The chants and songs the community sang
To carry you on your way, to tend the flames,
To transform our body into diamond dust,
Then launch your swan upon the Silver Sea
Such tenderness and love,
I couldn`t wish more for me!


Richards Druitt

Here is an album of images to share together as we remember dear Sierra.

Penn State University, York, March 2017

Click here for a whole bunch of fun images, with an international body of students from Penn State, York, who came through Globalworks to spend a few days helping in a grand overhaul of our workshop and wood storage. All these great images are by Penn State York chaperone, Judith Owen, and Globalworks Team Leader, Ava Murphey. Thank you all for a really wonderful time.

Freddy Dempster (Chief Engineer of Biosphere 2) joined us at Las Casas de la Selva during this period as well and made an inspiring Biosphere 2 presentation. Thank you to Magha Garcia for the fine food, Andrés Rúa, Ricardo Valle, for crew leadership and to Alfredo Lopez for being the random element help.

Google Album: https://goo.gl/photos/pHjr61hJ2gwm6XgR9

Animal Training Team at Las Casas de la Selva – Nov 2016

Debbie Jacobs, 2nd from left, is leading a team of top animal trainers, from USA and Canada, traveling in Puerto Rico and Vieques to train animals, and their people, all over the island. Our dogs, Negralora, Nogal, Cenizo, Kailash the cat, as well as the chickens, all got a fair share of attention and training. The team are visiting dog shelters all over Puerto Rico and Vieques, in November 2016, offering free training to to provide pet owners, rescue groups, and shelter staff, information about the most effective and humane ways to train animals, and helping to get dogs into loving homes as soon as possible.

Working with horses and dogs the group demonstrated that – force, fear, intimidation, and pain, are not necessary in order to help our pets learn how to be happy and safe companions. The trip also offered trainers the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills by supporting each other in their efforts to refine their training skills. The group visited and stayed in San Juan, Las Casas de la Selva, Carite Forest, as well as the island of Vieques.

The Dog Trainer’s Collaborative, (a group of professional dog and animal trainers)

Images by 3t – November 2016

What is Mahogany Hardwood? Creating Clarity from Confusion

There has been a decline in the amount of genuine mahogany in the world over the last century, due to over-harvesting. Many red-colored woods have taken the place of mahogany by default, and the reasons why mahogany became the wood that the world fell in love with, have been lost in the saw-dust.

When we speak of Mahogany hardwood we generally mean the hardwood that wowed the western world in the 1800s, became a significant indicator of status, and continued to be a best-selling wood for interiors, exteriors, furniture, and boats right up into the 20 century, when it became understood that over-harvesting was leading to the possible extinction of this species, of the genus Swietenia. As a forester, Mahogany lover, and artist, I recently enquired with Home Depot to ask them what species of tree they were calling Mahogany, as the pictures on their website did not convince me. It took four attempts over a few days before I received a response.

This was their response: “The species is Mahogany eucalyptus, New South Wales Eucalyptus”.

The wood that Home Depot are selling online as Mahogany is not, in fact, Mahogany. It is Eucalyptus, from the Myrtaceae family, of which one species, Eucalyptus robusta, is known commonly as Swamp mahogany, and another, Eucalyptus resinifera, is commonly known as Red Mahogany. Neither are authentic mahogany, as are none of the Eucalypts.

I am also an apprentice botanist, and this made me a little mad given that I had specifically asked for the botanical name- the genus and species. Common names are just flat-out misleading.

The only hardwoods that can truly be called Mahogany are from the Meliaceae family, Swietenia mahagoni (commonly known as Dominican, Cuban, West Indian, or small-leaf mahogany), Swietenia macrophylla (commonly known as Honduran or large-leaf mahogany), and Swietenia humilis, (commonly known as Pacific Coast Mahogany). All species of Swietenia are CITES-listed.

As of the last century, a naturally occurring hybrid, a cross between the small-leaf and the big-leaf mahoganies has made it’s way onto the mahogany stage, it’s name is Swietenia x aubrevilleana,and is a true and genuine mahogany. This tree was planted extensively in Puerto Rico.

Using a common name and calling a wood ‘Mahogany’ can be misleading as we can see from the Home Depot example. How many woodworkers have bought this wood, thinking that they were getting the genuine thing? The over-harvesting of mahogany led to lesser-known woods, with reddish colors, being sold knowingly or unknowingly to woodworkers as Mahogany, whom, if they had never used the genuine article, remained in the dark.

Over the last few decades, a species known as ‘African Mahogany’ has been available on the wood market. This is Khaya ivorensis,which is in the same family as the genuine mahoganies, but it is NOT mahogany, except by common name. Also in the Meliaceae family, are Entandrophragma cylindricum, commonly known as Sapeli, and Entandrophragma utile,commonly known as Sipo, two other African tree species that became mahogany substitutes as the genuine wood became scarcer to find, and became listed as endangered. Another in the same family is Toona calantas,commonly known as ‘Phillipine Mahogany’, but it is not genuine mahogany either.

There are many examples of wood being sold under the trade name ‘mahogany’.

Other Mahogany substitutes:

‘Philippine mahogany’, sold in North America is NOT a mahogany at all, but could be any species from the genus Shorea, in the family Dipterocarpaceae. Similarly with ‘Borneo Mahogany’, trade name Meranti, which isin the family Calophyllaceae.

‘Santos Mahogany’ or Myroxylon balsamum,a deep red and oily wood, from Central and South America, in the Fabaceae family, not the mahogany family.

The mahogany used by the Chippendale furniture company in the 1800s was Swietenia. Only the genus Swietenia comprises the four authentic mahoganies that are known by wood connoisseurs for workability, stability, durability, pest resistance, and above all an unmistakable beauty. Anything else is another type of hardwood.

Sustainable harvests of plantation Swietenia macrophylla are currently coming out of Fiji, and Puerto Rico is currently a go-to place for Swietenia mahagoni, Swietenia macrophylla and the stunning hybrid, Swietenia x aubrevilleana,which was planted for timber by the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, and private land-owners, in the last century.

Puerto Rico Hardwoods is a new company born from the Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry Project in Patillas, Puerto Rico, established 30 years ago, that sells genuine mahogany and the hybrid. Please enquire.
All permits are in place from The Department of Natural Resources in Puerto Rico, along with a successful history with the Forest Service, and International Institute of Tropical Forestry, based in PR, a US territory. www.prhardwoods.com

Credits:
Tables by Puerto Rico Hardwoods

Hand-made boxes in Hybrid Mahogany, Swietenia x aubrevilleana, from Puerto Rico, By Ray Jones

Book-matched Tabletop in Hybrid Mahogany, Swietenia x aubrevilleana, from Puerto Rico. By Tom Kerr

Author: 3t Vakil, Director of Tropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry Project, and President of Puerto Rico Hardwoods.

Mahoe Slabs now available (MNOPQRS)

MahoeLengthWidthThicknessBoard feetCostNotes
M681014.72$94.40SOLD
N73914.56$91.20SOLD
O84
11
16.41$128.20SOLD
MahoeLengthWidthThicknessBoard feetCostNotesNotes
P4273.256.63
$172.38
QuartersawnSOLD
Q464.753
4.55

$118.30
Quartersawn
R575
2
3.95
$102.70
QuartersawnSOLD
S65
3
2
2.70

$54.00
SOLD

Mahoe, Hibiscus elatus
All dimensions are in inches and all slabs are slightly larger than stated. All pieces have been planed on both sides. Ends are Anchor-sealed.
Shipping is not included, send an email for a quote.

Please include in your email to 3t@eyeontherainforest.org

1) Your shipping address.
2) Your shipping preference for a quote: USPS Priority (4-6 days) or USPS Retail Ground (14-18 days) .

We accept secure payments through Paypal.

Mahoe, Hibiscus elatus, is a large forest tree endemic to Jamaica, Cuba, and now naturalized in Puerto Rico. The straight stems of mature specimens can rise to a height of 80 feet, with trunk diameters of 12 to 18 inches, on favorable sites attaining diameters of 36 inches. Its relatively fast growth makes mahoe a highly suitable candidate for sustainable forestry management. The leaves are long-stalked heart-shaped, flowers are large and funnel shaped, usually red, but occasionally yellow or orange.
Mahoe is a moderately hard wood with a specific gravity of 0.58-0.62. The heartwood is very durable, highly resistant to attack by decay fungus, and resistant to subterranean termites. The fairly straight grain is richly variegated with shades of steely blues, metal grays, deep purples and pinks, olive greens and yellows, creams and browns, along with an elegant chatoyance in the wood. The narrow sapwood is pale white and subtly flecked, creating an attractive contrast with the heartwood. From reports and our own experience, the timber is generally easy to saw, plane, route, mould, mortise, carve, glue, nail, screw, sand, and turn, with a natural gloss in the wood when finished. It responds very well to both hand and machine tools in all woodworking operations. The wood has a musical quality and has been traditionally used in the making of cuatros, (puertorican guitars). Fine boxes, furnitures, inlay works, floors, details, turned pieces, exquisite jewelleries, sculptures, and ancient board games, have been, and demand to be transformed from the Mahoe. Architects, furniture-makers, designers, artists & wood lovers will find a charm in working with this wood.

SEE MORE MAHOE FOR SALE:APRIL MAHOE SLABSSERIES 7SERIES 8SERIES 9

Mahoe Series 7 April 2016

Mahoe Series 7LengthWidthThicknessBoard FeetCostNotes
7a245.251.251.09$21.80SOLD
7b25.551.251.10$22.00SOLD
7c28.755.251.251.31$26.20SOLD
7d31.581.252.18$43.60SOLD
7e435.2511.56$31.20SOLD
7f453.2511.64$32.80SOLD
7g495.750.751.46$29.20SOLD

Mahoe, Hibiscus elatus.
All dimensions are in inches and all slabs are slightly larger than stated. All pieces have been planed on both sides. Ends are Anchor-sealed.
Shipping is not included, send an email for a quote.

Please include in your email to 3t@eyeontherainforest. org
1) Your shipping address.
2) Your shipping preference for a quote: USPS Priority (4-6 days) or USPS Retail Ground (14-18 days) .

We accept secure payments through Paypal.

Mahoe, Hibiscus elatus, is a large forest tree endemic to Jamaica, Cuba, and now naturalized in Puerto Rico. The straight stems of mature specimens can rise to a height of 80 feet, with trunk diameters of 12 to 18 inches, on favorable sites attaining diameters of 36 inches. Its relatively fast growth makes mahoe a highly suitable candidate for sustainable forestry management. The leaves are long-stalked heart-shaped, flowers are large and funnel shaped, usually red, but occasionally yellow or orange.
Mahoe is a moderately hard wood with a specific gravity of 0.58-0.62. The heartwood is very durable, highly resistant to attack by decay fungus, and resistant to subterranean termites. The fairly straight grain is richly variegated with shades of steely blues, metal grays, deep purples and pinks, olive greens and yellows, creams and browns, along with an elegant chatoyance in the wood. The narrow sapwood is pale white and subtly flecked, creating an attractive contrast with the heartwood. From reports and our own experience, the timber is generally easy to saw, plane, route, mould, mortise, carve, glue, nail, screw, sand, and turn, with a natural gloss in the wood when finished. It responds very well to both hand and machine tools in all woodworking operations. The wood has a musical quality and has been traditionally used in the making of cuatros, (puertorican guitars). Fine boxes, furnitures, inlay works, floors, details, turned pieces, exquisite jewelleries, sculptures, and ancient board games, have been, and demand to be transformed from the Mahoe. Architects, furniture-makers, designers, artists & wood lovers will find a charm in working with this wood.

Q: Why is Mahoe sometimes called Blue Mahoe when it varies through so many colors? A: Because of its bluey green shades it was called Blue Mahoe to distinguish it from its relative, the seaside mahoe (Hibiscus tiliaceus L.) Above: images of Mahoe leaves, flowers, seeds, and trees.

Mahoe Series 9 April 2016

SUSTAINABLY GROWN AND HARVESTED MAHOE HARDWOOD

Mahoe Series 9LengthWidthThicknessBoard FeetCostNotes
9a468.512.71$54.20SOLD
9b59.590.752.78$55.60SOLD
9c618.51.254.50$90.00SOLD
9d6081.254.16$83.20SOLD
9e669.514.35$87.00SOLD

Mahoe, Hibiscus elatus
All dimensions are in inches and all slabs are slightly larger than stated. All pieces have been planed on both sides. Ends are Anchor-sealed.
Shipping is not included, send an email for a quote.

Please include in your email to 3t@eyeontherainforest.org

1) Your shipping address.
2) Your shipping preference for a quote: USPS Priority (4-6 days) or USPS Retail Ground (14-18 days) .

We accept secure payments through Paypal.

Mahoe, Hibiscus elatus, is a large forest tree endemic to Jamaica, Cuba, and now naturalized in Puerto Rico. The straight stems of mature specimens can rise to a height of 80 feet, with trunk diameters of 12 to 18 inches, on favorable sites attaining diameters of 36 inches. Its relatively fast growth makes mahoe a highly suitable candidate for sustainable forestry management. The leaves are long-stalked heart-shaped, flowers are large and funnel shaped, usually red, but occasionally yellow or orange.
Mahoe is a moderately hard wood with a specific gravity of 0.58-0.62. The heartwood is very durable, highly resistant to attack by decay fungus, and resistant to subterranean termites. The fairly straight grain is richly variegated with shades of steely blues, metal grays, deep purples and pinks, olive greens and yellows, creams and browns, along with an elegant chatoyance in the wood. The narrow sapwood is pale white and subtly flecked, creating an attractive contrast with the heartwood. From reports and our own experience, the timber is generally easy to saw, plane, route, mould, mortise, carve, glue, nail, screw, sand, and turn, with a natural gloss in the wood when finished. It responds very well to both hand and machine tools in all woodworking operations. The wood has a musical quality and has been traditionally used in the making of cuatros, (puertorican guitars). Fine boxes, furnitures, inlay works, floors, details, turned pieces, exquisite jewelleries, sculptures, and ancient board games, have been, and demand to be transformed from the Mahoe. Architects, furniture-makers, designers, artists & wood lovers will find a charm in working with this wood.

Mahoe Series 8 April 2016

SUSTAINABLY GROWN AND HARVESTED MAHOE HARDWOOD.

Mahoe Series 8LengthWidthThicknessBoard FeetCostNotes
8a353.51.251.0621.20SOLD
8b38.53.7511.0020.00SOLD
8c40.753.510.9919.80SOLD
8d4831.251.2525.00SOLD
8e503.50.750.9118.20SOLD
8f534.7511.7434.80SOLD
8g574.2511.6833.60SOLD
8h57.54.751.252.3747.40SOLD
8i623.7511.6132.20SOLD
8j62.753.7511.6332.60SOLD
8k633.7511.6432.80SOLD
8l724.2512.1242.40SOLD

Mahoe, Hibiscus elatus
All dimensions are in inches and all slabs are slightly larger than stated. All pieces have been planed on both sides. Ends are Anchor-sealed.
Shipping is not included, send an email for a quote.

Please include in your email to 3t@eyeontherainforest.org

1) Your shipping address.
2) Your shipping preference for a quote: USPS Priority (4-6 days) or USPS Retail Ground (14-18 days) .

We accept secure payments through Paypal.

Mahoe, Hibiscus elatus, is a large forest tree endemic to Jamaica, Cuba, and now naturalized in Puerto Rico. The straight stems of mature specimens can rise to a height of 80 feet, with trunk diameters of 12 to 18 inches, on favorable sites attaining diameters of 36 inches. Its relatively fast growth makes mahoe a highly suitable candidate for sustainable forestry management. The leaves are long-stalked heart-shaped, flowers are large and funnel shaped, usually red, but occasionally yellow or orange.
Mahoe is a moderately hard wood with a specific gravity of 0.58-0.62. The heartwood is very durable, highly resistant to attack by decay fungus, and resistant to subterranean termites. The fairly straight grain is richly variegated with shades of steely blues, metal grays, deep purples and pinks, olive greens and yellows, creams and browns, along with an elegant chatoyance in the wood. The narrow sapwood is pale white and subtly flecked, creating an attractive contrast with the heartwood. From reports and our own experience, the timber is generally easy to saw, plane, route, mould, mortise, carve, glue, nail, screw, sand, and turn, with a natural gloss in the wood when finished. It responds very well to both hand and machine tools in all woodworking operations. The wood has a musical quality and has been traditionally used in the making of cuatros, (puertorican guitars). Fine boxes, furnitures, inlay works, floors, details, turned pieces, exquisite jewelleries, sculptures, and ancient board games, have been, and demand to be transformed from the Mahoe. Architects, furniture-makers, designers, artists & wood lovers will find a charm in working with this wood.

Hilda Soltero – 30 years later “a dream made into reality”, December 2014

Hilda Soltero was the Secretary of The Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources in the early 1980s, and it was she that flew John Allen over the island when he was looking for a place to start a sustainable forestry project. Dr. Mark Nelson and John Rubio Druitt met with Dr. Frank Wadsworth in 1983 to discuss the possibilities. In 1983, Las Casas de la Selva was born. Today in December 2014, we shared with Hilda great discussions, stories, visions and plans, and enjoyed the company of her two sons and four grand kids. Thank you Hilda for your continuing support of tropical forestry, along with this project here in Patillas, and look forward to working with you on the mission of sustainable forestry in Puerto Rico.

Symposium and Exhibition of Forest Products at IITF, 6th December 2014

SEE MORE IMAGES HERE:
https://plus.google.com/photos/114745085458651133282/albums/6089798854434161681?authkey=CLytzaWvsMmIfg

L-R: Luis Soto, (Land Authority Director) Carmen Guerrero, (Secretary of DNR), Connie Carpenter, Magaly Figueroa, (USDA State & Private Forestry), Andrés Rúa, 3t Vakil, (Tropic Ventures and Nuestra Madera), Magha Garcia, (Director Pachamama Organic Farm), Sheila Ward, (Mahogany for the Future), Edgardo Gonzalez (Landscape Conservation Center).

75 years of Forestry!

International Institute of Tropical Forestry celebrated its 75th year anniversary and a wonderful event at the Fundacion Luis Munoz Marin (FLMM) gave everyone a chance to meet up and connect over the whole days symposium, followed by a wonderful and lively reception in the evening. 21st May 2014
See more great images of this event here. Pix by 3t and Andrés

Tropic Ventures was honored to be mentioned in the recently published 2102 IITF Accomplishments. See PDF here.

Gracious thanks to FLMM, and IITF.

Consejo Asesor para el Desarrollo Agro-forestal, May 6th, 2014

Another historic meeting for CADA, this time at Las Casas de la Selva, sustainable forestry project in the steep mountains of Patillas.

CADA, comprises of individuals brought together by a strong commitment to stimulate and create the sustainable management of all forest resources on the island of Puerto Rico. Founded in 2013 by Andrés and 3t.

SEE MORE IMAGES FROM THIS MEETING HERE:

Participants NameAgency or group
Andrés Rúa GonzálezTropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry
Thrity VakilTropic Ventures Sustainable Forestry
Magaly Figueroa (Vía teléfono)USDA US Forest Service
Arnaldo AstacioDepartamento de Agricultura de Puerto Rico
Alexis Laurent Dragoni CebolleroConsultor Fundación Aireko
Christina CabreraDepartamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales de PR
Enrique SantiagoDepartamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales de PR
Jess ZimmermanUPR Rio Piedras
Franklin RománServicio de Extensión Agrícola
Jimena ForeroUPR Rio Piedras
Rosamaría QuilesDepartamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales de PR
Tomas TorresFundación Aireko
Orlando GómezPaddle Sur
Francisco AliceaMunicipio de Arroyo
Elizabeth RodriguezVoluntaria
Milagros Solís OcasioPridco
Hector RodriguezPridco
Evelyn MeloPridco
Omar GarciaPaddle Sur
Enrique C. Colon BurgosAutoridad de Energía Eléctrica

SEE MORE IMAGES FROM THIS CADA MEETING AT LAS CASAS DE LA SELVA, 6TH MAY 2014

See images from the CADA meeting at Cyber Café, Caguas, 4th March 2014
See images from the CADA meeting at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, 30th August 2013.
See images from the meeting of The Forest Products Assessment group, at Cayey University, the day the group formally became CADA, 6th May 2013
See images from the meeting of The Forest Products Assessment group at International Institute of Tropical Forestry, March 18th 2013.
See images from the FPA Field meeting at Las Casas de a Selva, 8th August, 2012
See images from the FPA Symposium at the Department of Natural Resources, Rio Piedras, 11th April, 2012

Building a Tree Nursery

With Fryeburg Academy…

Fryeburg Academy students from Maine, are here helping us for the next several days. Led by Chris and Emily Strahler, they are working on composts, trails, but mainly on the new tree nursery for our endangered endemic tree planting program.

This program has been formulated to protect endangered flora and fauna by planting endangered endemic tree species, and working on habitat enhancement in subtropical wet forest. The location and the quality of the habitat of the 930-acre forest property of Las Casas de la Selva is ideal for the establishment of projects toward the recovery of various endangered endemic tree species. The property’s north-eastern border adjoins the Carite State Forest which contains another 6,660 acres of subtropical wet mountain forest land.

Tropic Ventures Research & Education Foundation are collaborating with US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to develop habitat enhancement and restoration projects that benefit endangered endemic species of Puerto Rico.

And two year old Daniel going with the flow….

Herpetology in Puerto Rico

Norman has been invited to give a presentation of his work at The University of Puerto Rico in February 2014.

Norman Greenhawk was away from Las Casas de la Selva for the majority of 2013, from April through Mid-November, on travel and training on the Earthwatch Neville Shulman Award for Emerging Environmental Leaders. Norman won the award based on his proposal to study not only various species of reptiles and amphibians, but also to conduct ethno-herpetological interviews with local people through Central and South America to record attitudes, uses (medicinal, ritual, economic, etc), and beliefs about frogs, snakes, lizards, and crocodiles.

Norman’s travels took him to Panama, where he studied with the brilliant Dr. Julie Ray of La MICA and with the Smithsonian’s Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation project. Norman learned to catch and relocate endangered crocodiles with the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary in Belize. In Honduras, Norman learned the finer points of monitoring the endemic Utila Island Iguana, a species of lizard that is adapted to inhabit only the mangrove swamps of Utila Island. Norman ended his trip with a month in Bolivia, studying critically endangered frogs and interviewing the indigenous people who ran the “Mercado de las Brujas”.

Upon his return to Las Casas, Norman led an expedition into Icaco Valley with Jan Zegarra of the US FWS, and Maria Cristina of Universidad Metropolitana. The purpose of the trip was to monitor the population of Eleutherodactylus cooki, the “Coqui Guajon” that Norman discovered in December 2012, but there was a pleasant surprise. This expedition confirmed the presence of Eleutherodactylus richmondi, the “Coqui Caoba”, an IUCN critically-endangerd frog. According to Jan, whose Master’s thesis was on E. richmondi, there is only one other area in all of Puerto Rico where E. cooki and E. richmondi share habitat; Jan said this makes Icaco is a very special and unique location.

Ready, willing, and able.

Erin Dahl, (who first came here two years ago with a team from University of Miami), Christopher Sanchez, and Danielle Ungermann all participated in the January harvest of mahoe trees from around the homestead. Andres, chainsawyer, and 3t, felling buddy, were happy to have the help of these three ready, willing, and able apprentices, and together, everyone trained and learned something in the essential art of directional felling, using cuts, wedges, ropes, and a come-along (a small portable winch usually consisting of a cable attached to a hand-operated ratchet).Gentle gasps of astonishment were heard as 65 feet tall trees fell, and fortunately, they all fell exactly where Andres designated. The team have been busy clearing the slash (the small twigs and branches), and depositing it back into the forest for nutrients and erosion control. Thank you Erin, Chris, and Danielle, we have really appreciated your stay with us.

Pines and orchids -14th September 2013

L-R: Tania Hernandez Caraballo,  3t,  Jim Ackerman, Escarlin Reyes Genao, Carmen-Iris Rodriguez, and Joel Salcedo Mejias (Pic by Andrés R♪a)

Prof. Jim Ackerman brought his students to Las Casas de la Selva to make observations on exotic orchids and pines. Our friend Carmen Iris, (second from right), studied with Jim 26 years ago. Always a pleasure to spend time with Jim and get the downloads on his current studies and forest insights.

Oh, and the puppy is the new addition to Carmen Iris and Alberto Rodriguez’ household.  An adorable pedigree German Shepherd, 2 months old, called Ninja,

Appalachian Upward Bound July 2013

Appalachian State University organize Upward Bound for incoming students…this great bunch spent 5 days with us and helped on trail blazing, ditch digging, and erosion control and really got far on the forest road. You guys did an awesome job, we really appreciate your work!