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Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park

Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park

The Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park, located in the Mexican state of Baja California and which is part of the municipality of Ensenada.
The area was first explored by Europeans in 1701 by Eusebio Francisco Kino by order of the Dominicans; subsequently the Dominicans, continuing the evangelization movement, built the Misión de San Pedro Mártir de Verona in the southern part of the park, but only ruins remain of the site.
The park was established, by decree of April 26, 1947, to protect this ecosystem which also regulates the climate of the central region and the valleys of La Trinidad, San Telmo and San Quintín.
The Park has an extension of 72,909 hectares which are protected and protected by the Mexican federal government.
This Park is home to important forest reserves which include ecosystems of chaparral, pinyon pine and mixed coniferous forest.

Geography –
Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park is known for its pine and granite rock formations. The Sierra de San Pedro Mártir is a mountain range that runs north to south along the central portion of northwestern Baja California, Mexico. With its Spanish name for “mountains of St. Peter Martyr. Picacho del Diablo is the highest peak in the park and reaches 3,096 meters. The Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park is one of the few existing pine forests in the peninsula of the Bassa California, an important habitat for native Bighorn sheep, and the park is home to the California condor through a reintroduction program by several international agencies.
The National Astronomical Observatory, built in 1971 on a nearby peak, the Cerro del la Cúpula, houses the largest optical telescope in Mexico, with a diameter of 2.12 meters and a total weight of 40 tons. The observatory is the second most important in Latin America.
The National Astronomical Observatory is located at an altitude of 2,830m and has several large telescopes, the largest of which is 2.1m. The observatory takes advantage of the high elevation, along with typically clear skies, low relative humidity, low air pollution, low light pollution, and low levels of radio interference.
The highest peak (Picacho del Diablo) is thought to have started forming in the Paleozoic Era through tectonic fractures. The Sierra de San Pedro Mártir has a rugged mountain range with drastic morphological changes and covered with pine forests and surrounded by large deserts. Because it is surrounded by deserts, the park is often described as an oasis.
As mentioned the Picacho del Diablo is the highest peak in the park with its 3,096 meters above sea level and is located on the east side of the park. Throughout the park there are also several deep canyons and many abrupt changes that give this area a characteristic morphology.

Climate –
The Sierra de San Pedro Mártir mountain range is characterized by two main climates with an average annual temperature of 20°C. A continental climate that occurs at higher altitudes and a semi-arid climate at lower altitudes. At the higher elevations the rainy season comes during the winter with 36% of the precipitation falling with frequent thunderstorms and several snowstorms. During the summer at the highest altitudes with 22.9% of precipitation decreasing. Winters are mild with temperatures typically ranging from 3 to 18°C. Summers are hot with temperatures ranging from 18 to 22°C. Temperatures vary drastically throughout the park depending on elevation due to the significant topographical changes. During the winter at the extreme altitudes a large amount of snow accumulates while in the summer the lowest altitudes exceed 38 °C.

Flora –
The Sierra de San Pedro Mártir contains several species of conifers; the most abundant are: Pinus lambertiana, Pinus quadrifolia, Pinus jeffreyi, Abies concolor, and species of Cupressus, present above all in the higher altitudes. The flora is distinct from the flora of the rest of Mexico and shares many species with the Laguna Mountains and San Jacinto Mountains in southwestern California. The lower elevations of the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir are defined by chaparrals and desert shrublands. The Sierra de San Pedro Mártir is a southern demarcation of the California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) distribution.

Wildlife –
Throughout the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park there is a great variety of mammals: mule deer, bighorn sheep, cougar, bobcat, ring-tailed cat, coyote, rabbit, squirrel and more than 30 species of bats.
The park is also home to many avian species such as: bald eagle, golden eagle, falcon, woodpecker, black vulture, crow, several Sittidae species.
Captive-born California condors have been reintroduced into the wild in the Sierra San Pedro Martir; the first time they have been seen in the range since 1937. The condor was introduced to the park with international cooperation between the United States and Mexico. Local ecologists have named the second generation of Californian condors “inyaa” (sun in the Kiliwa language).
It should be noted that the puma (Puma concolor), the wild cat (Lynx rufus), the bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis cremnobates), the coyote (Canis latrans), the badger (Taxidea taxus) and the fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) are among the animals at risk of extinction.
Among the fauna recovery programmes, we highlight the one carried out by the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas in the Park for the reintroduction of the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus), a species considered extinct until 2010, the year in which this status was changed to the category “endangered”, thanks to its gradual reintroduction.
This program has successfully reintroduced captive-bred specimens to Baja California, California and Arizona. According to CONANP data, there is a population of 39 condors inside the Park, of which 33 were born in captivity and six in the wild.

Guido Bissanti

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