Letter From Estela Romero: Sierra Chincua and El Rosario Monarch Sanctuaries to Open

Sierra Chincua and El Rosario Monarch Sanctuaries to Open

By Estela Romero, Environmental Educator
Angangueo, Michoacán, México


Published: 11/18/2020 

Dear Friends,

After a week of intense training with ejidatario families, the Health and Tourism Ministries for Sierra Chincua and El Rosario Sanctuaries officially approved the sanitization and hygiene protocols. Rigorous risk assessments were submitted to the Ejido committees and appropriate Ministries of Health and Tourism as well as Federal and State nature conservation representatives. After review, the decision was made to move forward with the opening. Sierra Chincua and El Rosario will open on November 28th.

On arriving this weekend, one could see how Ejidatario family members were actively working in teams, some practicing the welcoming message to visitors, others discussing best access points for providing information to the incoming visitors. Visitor numbers have been capped at 50% percent capacity for the facilities.

All visitors coming to the Sanctuaries shall be required to wear face masks before they approach the main entrance point. Once they perform the local sanitizing protocols and listen to the regulations on safety practices to follow inside the colonies, visitors can enter. Groups are limited to a maximum of 20 people per tour bus, and 10 people per family.

Alondra came with her her family from México City recently. She was worried that the Sanctuaries might not be opened this season. Despite these concerns, she and her family decided to come to experience the natural beauty of the location. Alondra had no problems follow the safety protocols, including taking everyone’s temperature at registration and hand sanitizing.

From the ticket booth to registration and beyond, all efforts have been made to keep visitors and staff safe. Even the dinner services have been meticulously evaluated and will continue to be monitored by appropriate authorities.

Clear and visible signing, ropes and marks on the ground were all part of the planning process for caring for each other, both local host and visitors.

Visits to Sanctuaries will be divided into two categories: Passenger buses and school students shall will occur from Monday to Thursday. Family visits shall happen from Friday to Sunday.

The above training and established regulations shall be exactly the same for both El Rosario and Sierra Chincua Sanctuaries.

Regulations to visit Sanctuaries shall be published at the official sites of the SEMARNAT Ministry, The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve Office, Zitácuaro Michoacán, the Michoacán State of Tourism, the Sierra Chincua and El Rosario Sanctuaries publications as well as radio, tv and social media channels with regular announcements on Tuesday morning.

It is important to note that even though the Sanctuaries have been declared open for the 2020-2021 season, Health and Tourism Ministries will continue to monitor the pandemic and take actions to either temporarily or indefinitely close open-air activities at the Sanctuaries.

Mauricio, a youth whose family owns a restaurant at El Rosario Sanctuary, reacted to the news of the Sanctuaries opening by saying: “We local children and our grandparents might not be allowed to be involved in most activities as it used to be, but if far apart, we can do some little tasks. The good news is that our dads, brothers, sisters and other relatives won’t have to leave our homeland in search of a job far away from our families.

Mauricio’s dad, tired after the intense week of training, was also happy that the family will have employment during the coming months. He thanked the monarch butterflies and welcomed the overwintering season!

While these changes and re-adjustments have been happening, monarchs have been enjoying silent and peaceful weeks since their arrival on the Día de los Muertos on November 1st  and 2nd. Monarchs have been busy choosing their favorite Oyamel trees. Local guides at each Sierra Chincua, El Rosario and Cerro Pelón Sanctuaries speak of monarchs forming two main colonies at each location, while many more monarch butterflies continue to arrive.