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Patagonia Project Concludes Second Season

Posted on: January 29th, 2010 by admin

Photo courtesy of Rolando Garibotti

The second year of the AAC’s Los Glaciares National Park conservation project, sponsored by Patagonia Inc., wrapped up successfully in early December. Over six weeks in the Patagonian spring, the eight-man Argentinean-American team, led by project coordinator Rolando Garibotti, with help from other volunteers, continuedwork begun in 2008 to restore heavily eroded trails in Los Glaciares, which is home to Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre.

First, however, the American trail experts led a nine-day field-work seminar in late October with 17 park rangers from various national parks across Argentinean Patagonia. Over more than 76 hours in the field, the rangers learned techniques for mitigating and stopping erosion, including steps, drainage, and causeways. Despite some initial difficulties due to the language barrier, the course was a major success, and similar efforts likely will be made in the future.

Once the trail course ended, work resumed on the heavily damaged Laguna de los Tres trail in Los Glaciares. Because of poor weather, work also was done on the lower-elevation trails leading to Rio Blanco camp and up the Cerro Torre valley. About 2,000 man/hours of trail work was completed.

In his report on the 2009 work, Garibotti said the project is having a much broader impact than new water bars and steps. “Our work, including the trail course, is inspiring some land managers to follow a much more deliberate approach toward trail building and maintenance,” he wrote. “One clear example of the above is that since January 2010 the northern area of Los Glaciares National Park has its own trail crew. As an initial experiment, the park decided to commit five salaries for four months (until late April) to the trails. It is the first time in the Patagonian parks that several people are specifically assigned to trail work.”

The Los Glaciares conservation project will continue until 2011. There is much more to this innovative international effort than can be described in a short article, and you can read Garibotti’s full report here. The video below offers a great summary of the first year of the project, in 2008.

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