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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

June 2011 - Volume VI, No. 06

OUR MISSION: To protect and preserve our natural heritage and help build an environmental culture while developing a Botanical Garden dedicated to Mexican flora and providing an oasis of peace and tranquility for all.

Please tell your friends and prospective members/supporters how to access the newsletter and help broaden the base of support for the Botanical Garden.


Restoration of the Northern Reserve of El Charco, Monday – Saturday, June 6 - 11

Collection of Old Electronic Equipment - month of June


GUIDED TOUR of the CAÑADA DE LA VIRGIN, Saturday June 25

Summer Day Camp, July 11 - 29


Full Moon Ceremony - Wednesday, June 15

Traditional Temazcal: Saturday, June 18: and Sunday June 19

Guided Tours - Tuesdays and Thursdays

BIRD-WATCHING TOURS - Every first and third Wednesday of the month



Last Tuesday the 24th of May El Charco suffered its most devastating fire ever. The fire consumed approximately 75% of the natural preserve area on the north side of the dam and canyon. About 35 hectares of native flora were severely damaged. The southern side including the visitor’s center and conservatory were not damaged and will remain open as usual.

The extended droughts of this season combined with the profusion of a very invasive and flammable grass and high winds made for a fierce and devastating fire. All of our fire prevention systems were stressed by the force of the fire which started around 12 noon somewhere near the Obraje dam.  From there it made its way along the canyon toward the higher hiking area of the north side just before the ridge. Initially the Charco staff, equipped with water backpacks, succeeded in extinguishing the fire in the Garambullos and the Real del Obraje developments.  After these exhaustive efforts, the fire started up again with a vengeance and the staff was overwhelmed by the height of the flames. 

charco fire

Regrettably the two agencies responsible for this type of disaster, (Protection Civil and Bomberos), were delayed in responding although several desperate calls for help were made by the director of El Charco.  Even though water trucks from Ecology were available for just this emergency, the decision was made by both agencies to not fight the fire when it entered the reserve, but to move their equipment far to the east in order to protect nearby residential zones from the advancing flames, leaving the Charco Reserve to burn.  We strongly condemn this decision as unjustified and feel that they should explain themselves publicly.

The damage caused by this fire has been done, and it will take several years to recover the biodiversity that was destroyed.  We are, however, accustomed to the long term process of natural restoration. For our part we will develop a new management plan for the reserve, based on the changing weather patterns, the invasion of flammable grasses, and the escalating social pressures surrounding the nature preserve –and also the incapacity of the municipal agencies to deal with this type of disaster. We will continue to press the authorities to force surrounding home owners and developers to assume their share of the responsibility in preventing fires and controlling vandalism and crime that affects not only the integrity of the main ecological preservation zone but also the society that supports their real estate businesses.  Although we have initiated a formal complaint with the Federal authorities against those responsible for the damages resulting from the fire, it is at the municipal level that we should demand that the legal responsibilities of the owners and developers regarding these issues in the future be clarified.

Restoration of the Northern Reserve of El Charco
Monday – Saturday, June 6 - 11, 9 – 12 noon |
Jardín Botánico Visitor’s Center

From the day that the fire took place in the northern reserve of El Charco, we have received numerous gestures of solidarity and support from friends and members of the Botanical Garden. Donations can be made to San Miguel Community Foundation for El Charco. You can also call 154-4715 or come by reception at El Charco and ask for Marlene Parra. 

post-fire salvage

In addition, we are organizing a campaign to restore the areas affected by the fire. Although the damage to the plants was considerable, fortunately the majority of trees, bushes, nopales, garambullos etc, though burnt and dehydrated, are alive and will survive. But it will be necessary to carry out various tasks of cleaning and treating them in the coming months. Starting on Monday June 6 through Saturday June 11 from 9am to 12pm we need help from you and/or your gardeners to salvage what we can of the native flora. We ask that all volunteers bring some gardening tools (shears, hand saws, machetes, etc.), hats, gloves, water and lots of sun block. This project will be going on for months so please get involved and lend us a hand.


Help from the Mexican Department of Environment (SEMARNAT)

Since 1999, the Charco del Ingenio has been registered with the Mexican Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) as a “Management Unit for Wildlife Conservation” (UMA for its initials in Spanish). In spite of the innumerable environmental conservation activities carried out by the Botanical Garden since then, government support has been minimal. Now we are happy to announce that SEMARNAT is helping the Botanical Garden with some of the recovery tasks in El Charco, especially in the northern reserve, which has been seriously affected by the May 24 fire. The grant made by SEMARNAT, along with the solidarity assistance from various sectors of the local population, is a good example of government sensitivity toward issues of community interest.


GUIDED TOUR of the CAÑADA DE LA VIRGEN - Garden of Native Plants of the Archeological Site (bilingual)
Dr. Rosario Terrones | Saturday June 25 | $370 general public,  $320 members | Includes transportation | LIMITED SPACE | 8:45 am - 1 pm | Reservation required:

Dra. Rosario Terrones has extensive research experience with the National Institute of Forest and Agricultural Research (INIFAP for its initial in Spanish), a large number of publications on plants of our region and has participated in various environmental rehabilitation projects. One of her most recent activities has been the creation of The Garden of Useful Plants – native species employed since pre-Hispanic times. This garden comprises part of the visitors’ area of the archeological site of the Cañada de la Virgin. The guided tour by Dr. Terrones – exclusively for the Charco del Ingenio – is an opportunity to learn about our native plants and their traditional uses.

Caņada de la Virgin



The increasing diversity of activities and programs in El Charco has resulted in an increase in the number and type of visitors interested in nature, research, art, recreation and history. Considering the different needs and opportunities, especially as regards the local population, the Botanical Garden will from now on issue Special Passes, which permit multiple entries without committing to the purchase of an annual membership.

Annual membership: due to the increasing needs and improvements in the Botanical Garden, we feel it is time to increase the annual membership by $100 pesos. We feel this increase is fair and not onerous, given the benefits that members receive.

Thus the entrance categories and prices will be as follows:

Monthly pass: $180 pesos, which is equivalent to $6 pesos per day to enter the Botanical Garden.

Three-month pass: $300 pesos, which is equivalent to $3.3 pesos per day to enter the Botanical Garden

Six-month pass: $450 pesos, which is equivalent to $2.5 pesos per day to enter the Botancial Garden.

Annual membership: $700 pesos, which is equivalent to $2 pesos per day, plus 2 free admittances for guests and discounts for various activities and events.

We remind you that the passes and memberships are personal and non-transferable. In order to enter the Garden, the visitor should bring his/her pass or membership card.

Note: the single-day entrance fee ($40 pesos) will still be available for occasional visitors.

charco del ingenio map


Extraordinary Trees of San Miguel
The Poplars of the community of Cruz del Palmar

Upon arriving at this ancient indigenous (Pame-Otormí) community in our municipality, located on the bank of Río San Marcos – tributary of the Rio Laja – one is struck by the enormous and leafy trees, probably dating from the period in which the Spanish friars and soldiers appeared in our region, at the beginning of the 16th century. They belong to a native species of poplar (Populus alba), a tree that grows at the edge of the rivers and which attain a great height and thickness of trunk. Like other large live specimens in our municipality, this group of poplars, truly natural monuments, are silent witnesses to our regional history.

poplars at Cruz del Palmar
photo: José Manuel Félix Aizcorbe


July 11-29 | Monday through Firday from 9 am to 2 pm | Children 6 to 13 years old
Information and enrollment:

As in past years, we are organizing summer activities for boys and girls. Because this is the 20th anniversary of the Botanical Garden, this year the summer day camp will be special, with recreational activities carried out within the framework of environmental education. This will include diverse activities such as hiking, observation of insects, birds, trees and wildflowers; separation of trash; workshops for making mojigangas (large paper-maché figures that are worn like gigantic headdresses), masks, puppets, ephemeral and paper art, music, sweat lodge, and swimming.

Taking into account the economy of San Miguel families, we have reduced the cost of the summer day camp without diminishing its quality and contents. If you would like to sponsor a child, please contact (415) 154 4715. We look forward to seeing you this summer!

summer day camp


Monday - Friday, July 25 - 29, 2011 | 10 am - 1 pm
Nature Iluminated: Ink and Mixed Media
Instructor: Renee Jorgensen

El Charco is bursting with blooms and butterflies. Combine drawings and design in the traditional illumination technique. Learn the basics of pen and ink and add color to create a stunning stylized work that illustrates nature.

Renee Jorgensen is a technical illustrator with background in fine art disciplines that include calligraphy and modern illumination. She has been teaching at the Denver Botanic Gardens since 2005. She exhibits locally and internationally. Renee teaches Graphite, Illumination, Calligraphy and Watercolor Pencil.

To reserve a place or for more information:

illustration class


Collection of Old Electronic Equipment

The collective “Jóvenes en la Revolución de Conciencia” and COMCAUSA A.C. announce a campaign to collect old electronic equipment, which will take place during the month of June. This  nonprofit activity is part of a citizens’ effort to protect and improve the quality of life of Sanmiguelenses. The Jovenes group works in the areas of popular culture, art and the environment. El Charco has offered its Visitor’s Center as a collection point for this activity of collecting old electronic equipment, which will then be taken to recycling centers. The schedule  will be from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m every day.

old electronic equipment


Full Moon Ceremony and Healing Meditation for El Charco
Wednesday, June 15 | 8 pm |
Plaza de los Cuatro Vientos | Admision 30 pesos, members free

We invite everyone to this open celebration which for many years has taken place every lunar cycle in the Plaza of the Four Winds in the Botanical Garden, under the always-inspired direction of Alicia Mayo. We invite all friends of El Charco to unite in a healing meditation upon the brush fire that occurred last Tuesday, May 24, sharing everyone’s energy and prayers for the affected zone.

It is worth coming a bit early to admire the setting of the sun coinciding with the rising of the moon among the mountains on the horizon. We recommend that you bring wraps, and a musical instrument.

For more information, Alicia Mayo, tel 152-0376.

full moon ceremony


Tuesday, June 21 | 12 pm
Plaza de los Cuatro Vientos | Admission 30 pesos, members free

We also invite you to this ceremony to celebrate this astronomical event and change of season – which will enter into its zenith at 12:16 p.m. (1:16 p.m. Daylight Savings Time). The ceremony will take place in the Solar Observatory and the Plaza of the Four Winds in the Botanical Garden. Information: Alicia Mayo, tel 152-0376.

summer solstice ceremony


Saturday, June 18: 4 pm | Sunday June 19 10 am
Cost $250 pesos | LIMITED SPACE | Reservation required:

This sweat-lodge, of a ritual and curative nature, takes place in the ruins of the hacienda located on the far side of the reservoir in the Botanical Garden, under the direction of an experienced temazcalero (sweat-lodge leader). The combination of heat, humidity and fragrant hers is a purifying experience for the body and spirit. Its benefits are multiple – it activates circulation, increases the organism’s defenses, eliminates pains, decreases uric acid, relaxes the muscles, steadies the nervous system, stimulates respiration and is an excellent way to lose weight.

Reservation required: : | Tel:154.8838, 154.4715, or Visitor’s Center of the Jardín Botánico.



Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 am
Duration: 2 hours | Cost: general public $80 pesos, members $50

In spite of the brush fire, all areas of the Charco del Ingenio are functioning normally, so we invite you to visit the Botanical Garden. Why not come to see the beautiful sunset?

guided tours


Every first and third Wednesday of the month,
9 am – 11:30 a.m.
Cost:  100 pesos general public | 60 pesos Audubon or El Charco members
Guide: Signe Hammer

The walks are for birders of all levels. They begin at 9:00 am and last about 2 1/2 hours. No reservations needed, and feel free to leave the walk at any time.  Please bring binoculars, wear comfortable walking shoes and a hat, and bring water. Your guide will meet you after you pass through the Reception area of the Botanical Garden.


Greenhouse Propagation Needs

The Botanical Garden asks its friends, members and sympathizers for clean jars for keeping seeds and plastic flowerpots for the work of propagation in our greenhouse. You can leave these items in the Visitor’s Center. Many thanks.




Cacti from the Wirikuta Nature Reserve in San Luis Potosí
Threatened by Mine Concessions

As has been publicized in the media, the Mexican government granted 22 mining concessions to the Canadian firm First Majestic Silver Corporation for intensive exploitation of the Sierra de Catorce in San Luis Potosí. The area under concession includes not only the historic town of Real de Catorce but also an important part of the Wirikuta Nature Reserve, ancestral territory of great cosmological value to the Huichol indigenous people. In addition Wirikuta is an area of great ecological value since it contains a broad diversity of flora and fauna forming a fragile semi-desert ecosystem. Like other areas in the country where mining has been authorized – like the devastating San Xavier Mine in the same state – a broad-based movement has developed in opposition to the concessions.

As a botanical garden dedicated to Mexican flora, El Charco del Ingenio cannot remain silent in the face of the mining exploitation of an area of great cultural and environmental value. The following is a list of 29 species of the family Cactaceae that are located within the Wirikuta reserve, with their status and categories within the Mexican Registry (Norms) of Threatened Plants in Danger of Extinction.

More information about the defense of Wirikuta here.

Ariocarpus retusus - Status PR-I: In danger of extinction, highly threatened
Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus - Status PR-I: In danger of extinction, highly threatened
Ariocarpus agavoides - Status PR-I: In danger of extinction, highly threatened
Coryphantha echinoidea - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Coryphantha georgii - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Coryphantha glanduligera - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Coryphantha glasii -Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Coryphantha ottonii - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Coryphantha polsegeriana - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Coryphantha potosiana - Satus PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Coryphantha pulleineana - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Echinocereus parkeri - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Leuchtenbergia principis - Status A-II: Endangered with moderate risk of extinction
Lophophora williamsi - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Mammillaria decipiens - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Mammillaria densispina - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Mammillaria erythrosperma -Status A-II: Endangered with moderate risk of extinction
Mammillaria Formosa - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Mammillaria magnimamma - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Mammillaria muelenpfordtii - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Pelecyphora asseliformis - Status PR-I: In danger of extinction, highly threatened
Pelecyphora strombiliformis - Status PR-I: In danger of extinction, highly threatened
Stenocactus coptonogonus - Status PR-II: Moderate danger of extinction
Turbinicarpus beguinii - Status PR-I: In danger of extinction, highly threatened
Turbinicarpus lauii - Status PR-I: In danger of extinction, highly threatened
Turbinicarpus lophophoroides - Status PR-I: In danger of extinction, highly threatened
Turbinicarpus schmiedickianus -  Status PR-I: In danger of extinction, highly threatened
Turbinicarpus valdezianus  - Status PR-I: In danger of extinction, highly threatened
Turbinicarpus viereckii - Status A-I: Highy threatened



Visit the Charco Store and Cafeteria

This month you will find in our store various products from BRUJA DE MONTE, an organization that is dedicated to the stimulation of understanding, respect and ecological conservation of the natural resources of Mexico. In addition, in our cafeteria, you can enjoy some delicious and nutritional Jamaican quesadillas.

El Charco cafe y tienda


The 20th Anniversary Celebration Approaches
Share your testimony!

"The Charco del Ingenio is a very important place for all Sanmiguelenses, whether native or “adopted”. For that reason, we would like to know what has been and what is your relationship with this place that will mark its 20 years anniversaryl. Here is one:

“Around 1957, when I was a kid, Eduardo Teniente, Eduardo Patlán and I used to hang out the lower reservoir, the Charco del Ingenio pool, and the upper reservoir. We used to swim in those three places, in spite of the fact that according to stories that an old indigenous man told us, El Chan, the devil, lived in El Charco … He also told us about a story about the bandit Chuchín, who once upon a time hid the booty of a robbery in Querétaro in the Charco del Ingenio area. So we spent the years, looking for treasure, fishing and studying the flora and fauna and geological formations of that beautiful place. Now from far away, through Facebook, it makes me feel happy to know that this place is a sanctuary for the environment. I send you best wishes to all the team that has transformed this spectacular place.
Greetings from far away,
Juan Audiffred”

foto MariJo Ruiz




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