Conservation Volunteers International Program, Inc. via Crowdrise
January 19, 2011
HOURS PLEDGED: 500
DOES TORRES DEL PAINE MATTER? YES! Torres del Paine has been designated as a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO because of its exceptional ecological significance. The dramatic granite mountain spires, the spectacular glaciers, and the haunting winds draw tourists from around the world. The park is home to the guanaco (more than you can count), the Andean condor, the endangered huemul, and the elusive puma. We could go on and on, but there is not enough space here.
WHY THE PARK NEEDS OUR HELP: As ecotourism has become increasingly popular, the Park has experienced a surge in foreign tourists, who have severely strained the Park's natural resources. Stream crossings pose a big problem, but it costs money to build bridges, and the Park simply does not have the money.
WHAT CONSERVATION VIP HAS DONE SO FAR: Richard Braunlich, who is a Conservation VIP volunteer, a structural engineer, and a hiking enthusiast (his motto is "Hike or Die"), has volunteered hundreds of hours to help the Park assess its existing trail bridges and water crossings without bridges. He completed the site survey and prepared detailed designs for this bridge, which is high on the Park's list of urgent needs. Conservation VIP applied for a grant to help fund construction of the bridge, and Tourism Cares Foundation approved a $7,500 grant for the project. This fundraiser is to supplement that grant money.
MORE ABOUT THE BRIDGE: This bridge will greatly improve the safety for hikers (check out the pictures) as well as for the Park's rangers who have to re-establish a hiking trail through the gorge each year after the snow melts. Because the bridge will offer a fantastic view of Grey Glacier, the bridge will encourage more vistors to explore this section of the Park, relieving some of the overcrowding in other areas of the Park.
MORE ON CONSERVATION VIP: Conservation VIP is a U.S.-based nonprofit. Click on the link above to learn more.