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MA Park closing?

Brooklyn, New York
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MA Park closing?

Does anyone know if this story is true -- and if so, how likely and for how long is the park likely to be closed? Naturguide/Juan -- do you know anything about this? Thanks!

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio Set To Close Feb 26 Unless

In four days the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio will have its doors closed by the Ministerio del Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones (Minaet) if it does not correct the environmental problems found in the national park, a major tourist attraction for both national and foreign visitors.

On February 12, the Ministerio de Salud (Health ministry) issued an order for the park to clean up the sanitary conditions within 10 working days, for the park to install a proper sewer and drain water system.

An inspection by the municipality of Aguirre found that drain and toilets from the housing used by the park rangers drain directly into the local lagoon, river and sea, without any type of treatment.

In addition, the septic tank used by the restrooms by visitors had collapsed and would overflow anytime a toilet was flushed.

The inspectors found that sewage was roaming freely in an around the bathrooms, causing some pretty foul smells.

An anlysis of the water revealed a contamination of 46.000 units of coliform* per 100 millitres of water. The analysis was done by the biology unit of the Acueductos y Alcantarillados (water and sewer utility).

The correct level is of 240 coliforms per 100 millilitres of water. When the level goes over 500, the water becomes a health risk.

The Manuel Antonio park is the second most visited park in the country, second to the volcán Poás, and providing the highest income for the state coffers.

Belfort Cubillo, administrator of the park, blames the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación (Sinac) which has not given the park the money to fix the problem that had been identified at the beginning of the year.

Although the park generates some ¢1 billion colones a year in revenue, the park administration only received ¢200 million, which went towards salaries and utilities to operate the park.

For his part, the vice minister of Ambiente (Environment), Jorge Rodríguez, assures that the park administration received ¢60 million colones from the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) - tourism board- but the administration never used the funds properly.

Rodríguez added that his ministry has launched an investigation into the Sinac to determine where the Manuel Antonio park money went and has asked Salud and Minaet to postpone the park closing.

As of Friday the closing of the park was scheduled for February 26 unless the conditions at the park have been corrected.

*Coliform bacteria are the commonly-used bacterial indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water. They are defined as rod-shaped Gram-negative non-spore forming organisms that ferment lactose with the production of acid and gas when incubated at 35-37°C.

Coliforms are abundant in the feces of warm-blooded animals, but can also be found in the aquatic environment, in soil and on vegetation. In most instances, coliforms themselves are not the cause of sickness, but they are easy to culture and their presence is used to indicate that other pathogenic organisms of fecal origin may be present.

Fecal pathogens include bacteria, viruses,or protozoa many of which are parasites.

insidecostarica.com/dailynews/…nac02.htm

Manuel Antonio...
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1. Re: MA Park closing?

Hello Robert and everybody,

Manuel Antonio National Park does have a deadline to clean up and rectify the problems stated in the article. The main problem is that the park´s administration doesn´t have a budget to work with. So, these problems need to be solved by the central office in San Jose MINAET. I have been talking to the manager of the park and they are working as fast as possible to clean out the old cars left by other administrations inside the park. They are also trying to get portable toilet facilities for the beaches.

The pollution in the creek at the exit of the park is not entirely caused by the national park. Many of the hotels and restaurants near the park entrance also dump their sewage into the creek, which feeds into the ocean.

I will expect that in the next 3 days they will have a more accurate decision to close the park or not. I will keep everybody posted during the next few days.

NATUREGUIDE

Brooklyn, New York
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2. Re: MA Park closing?

Thanks, Juan -- I knew you'd know. Oy. I hope they can do what they need to do as soon as they can. It's disheartening to hear about the waste problem, but I guess that's an unfortunate side effect of tourism. Yes, please keep us updated -- fingers crossed.

Montreal, Canada
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3. Re: MA Park closing?

I don't want to get in panic mode but I'm leaving on the 25th for a week and if the park is closed, it kinda makes the whole trip pointless. I could consider going somewhere else in Costa Rica but it will be hard to find something at the last minute like this. :-(

Thanks for keeping us posted Juan.

Manuel Antonio...
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4. Re: MA Park closing?

Hello Everybody,

Please don´t start changing your travel plans to Manuel Antonio. It is still early to have a definitive decision whether the park is going to close or not. Manuel Antonio is the most profitable park in all of Costa Rica and the government and town are not going to allow the closure before we can all do something about it. The negative impact if the park closes is something that the government can not allow. If the park closes temporarily, there are other options for nature-wildlife places where the tours can be provided. Please let me know if someone has another question.

NATUREGUIDE

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5. Re: MA Park closing?

I also didn't mean to cause any panic by posting this story -- I apologize if that is an unintended effect! I just figured it'd be good to let others know that this is the situation, if it is indeed. As Juan says, it's in the tourist industry's and the government's best interests to correct the environmental problem. Maybe the more people know about it, the more pressure can be put on those who can correct the situation. The whole point of a national park is for protection of the environment, so if there are practices in place that aren't contributing to that end, then it's a good thing it's being addressed. I have faith.

Manuel Antonio...
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6. Re: MA Park closing?

This is a situation I have been predicting over the last year. Last year Tamarindo was labled as a contaminated site, and the government started strictly regulating the ones responisble for the pollution. And 4 months ago, the same thing happened in Jaco.

Tamarindo is now certified with the blue ecological flag, which is a certification for clean and environmentally friendly areas. These kinds of reports can only bring good changes for the future of each area. NATUREGUIDE

Camillus, NY
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7. Re: MA Park closing?

Wonderful for the area in the future, but we have reservations for next month. I am seriously considering changing destinations. Not flights to Costa Rica, just itinerary. Which is way too bad, because I have spent a lot of time on planning this. I am not an alarmist, and fully understand about coliform bacteria. Just don'y want to have to worry about it on vacation. Darn it....

Camillus, NY
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8. Re: MA Park closing?

And to add.. just because they correct the problem now... how long before the water is cleaned up. I appreciate the growing pains of a tourist area, but again, lots of money and well earned vacation time...

Brooklyn, New York
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9. Re: MA Park closing?

I would imagine that the park is considered 'too big too fail' and that the added sense of urgency will pay off.

I wouldn't try to reschedule for another area--there really is no place like Manuel Antonio in the whole country. You can see wildlife a plenty in places like La Selva or Corcovado, but you sacrifice either convenience and affordability or climate and beach access.

There are plenty of sunny beach areas, but none with the wildlife viewing opportunities that MA has.

Camillus, NY
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10. Re: MA Park closing?

Really, cause I am already scrambling to see if it would be feasible to just fly down to Osa and skip everything else, including Arenal area. Currently, I am only booked {need to confirm in 2 days} at Hotel Parador at Ma., but was planning on staying at the Arenal area first.

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