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Guanacaste National Park

Created in 1989, Guanacaste National Park was declared with the principal intention of forming a biological corridor to connect Santa Rosa National Park with high elevation cloud forest and Caribbean slope rain forest. The 70,000 hectares of Guanacaste National Park extend from Santa Rosa's border with the PanAmerican Highway northeastward to the peaks of Orosi and Cacao Volcanoes and across the Continental Divide onto the Caribbean slopes of these two volcanoes.

This extension of Santa Rosa will hopefully provide a sufficiently large area of protected land to ensure the future of wide-ranging species such as Jaguar and Mountain Lion, while at the same time allowing those species of birds and insects that make local seasonal migrations between the dry forest and the evergreen cloud and rain forests to continue their annual movements without threat of continued loss of habitat.

Getting there: From Liberia, take the Guanacaste Costa RicaPanAmerican Highway north for 42 km. and then take a right turn onto a dirt road (across from the turnoff for Cuajiniquil). From here it is a rough 17 km. to the Maritza Biological Field Station.

Climate: A wide variety of climates are represented here given the change in elevation from 300 meters to 1,659 meters (the summit of Cacao Volcano) within the park and the crossing from dry forest to rain forest as one goes eastward over the Continental Divide.

History: The creation of Guanacaste National Park was an ambitious project spearheaded by Dr. Daniel Janzen whose efforts were critical in raising the international donations necessary to purchase the land in question. Using the clever slogan, "How to Grow a National Park," Janzen stressed the need to reclaim degraded pasture land and recreate more of the severely threatened tropical dry forest habitat as well as a biological corridor to cooler and moister habitats.

Fortunately, the conservation campaign came at a time when international beef prices were low and many of the ranch owners with extensive holdings in the area were willing, if not eager, to sell their rather nonproductive grazing lands.

Among the primary goals of Guanacaste National Park are the desire to be "user friendly," encourage local participation in environmental programs, and employee as many of the previous ranch hands as possible as park personnel.

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