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Benito Juárez National Park

Benito Juárez National Park

Benito Juárez National Park is a Mexican reserve area located in the Valles Centrales region of Oaxaca. This park includes parts of the municipalities of San Felipe Tejalapam and San Andres Huayapan. The southern border of the park is located approximately 5 kilometers north of Oaxaca City.
The park was founded in 1937 during the presidency of General Lazaro Cardenas del Rio and is named after President Benito Juárez, a native of Oaxaca.
The decree with which it was created came into force on December 30, 1937, and then had 3,180 hectares.

Geography –
Benito Juárez National Park extends from 1,650 to 3,050 meters above sea level.
The main rivers that pass through the park are the Huayapan and San Felipe Rivers. Most of their water is piped to supply the city of Oaxaca. The park now covers 2,737 hectares, including the 3,111 meter high Cerro San Felipe, part of the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca. There are pine and oak forests in the upper part of the mountain. Further down there are oak and tropical deciduous forests in the canyons.
According to the National Information System on Biodiversity of the National Commission for the Knowledge and Enhancement of Biodiversity (CONABIO), more than 300 species of plants and animals live in the Barranca del Cupatitzio National Park, of which 22 fall into some risk category. of the official Mexican standard NOM-059 and 2 are exotic.

Climate –
The climate of Benito Juárez National Park is subhumid coastal and subhumid temperate. It is a typically sub-tropical climate, with a very mild winter from mid-November to early March, during which it can get cold at night, and a hot and relatively rainy summer from June to October.
We are far enough south to be safe from cold spells from the United States that can affect northern Mexico in the winter. However, in winter, the temperature can sometimes drop below 5°C, but even in these cases, during the day it generally remains around 20°C.
On the hottest days of the year, between March and May, the temperature can reach 33/34 °C. In summer it is not too hot, in fact it can be cool at night.
The average temperature of the coldest months (December and January) is 18 °C, that of the warmest month (May) is 23.2 °C. Here are the average temperatures.
Precipitation amounts to 655 mm per year: it is therefore at an intermediate level. In the least rainy months (January, February, December) 5 mm of rain fall, in the wettest (June) 140 mm fall. The rains are not abundant, because the city is located in a valley, and is protected from the currents.

Flora –
The flora of the Benito Juárez National Park is divided into different types of vegetation, which rise from 1,600 m above sea level. N. M. up to 3,500 m above sea level. N.M.; The lower areas between 1,700 and 1,800 meters near the inhabited centers have been almost completely transformed into wheat fields and pastures for animals. These disturbed areas are populated by invasive trees such as castor or jacaranda. Some areas have been planted with peach and other fruit trees. Other areas have been overgrown with exotic trees such as Australian eucalyptus and casuarina, which degrade Oaxacan land. The original vegetation of these hills, now almost disappeared, is the Low Deciduous Forest. The low deciduous forest is the driest part of the park, where most plants are deciduous. Among the most common trees: pumpkin (Leucaena esculenta), mulatta (Bursera simaruba), bell (Acacia angustissima), arnica (Montanoa spp.), algaroble (Vachellia pennatula), annona (Annona cherimola), copales (Bursera spp.), the casahuate (Ipomoea murucoides), the gannet (Ipomoea pauciflora), the butter leaf (Solanum sp.), the red nanche (Bunchosia cornifolia), the hawthorn (Vachellia faresiana), the pitaya (Stenocereus stellatus), the nopal (Opuntia tomentosa), the Oaxacan cedar (Cedrela oaxacensis) and the cuatle (Eysenhardtia polystachya). This low forest is found in ravines in the lower parts of the hill. At the bottom of the ravines, around the rivers, there is the gallery forest, composed of annonas, arnica and willows. In the municipal nursery of San Felipe there is a gallery forest of sabines or ahuehuetes (Taxodium mucronatum). Climbing even higher, on the lower slopes there is the low oak forest, composed of low and deciduous oaks and some trees from the low deciduous forest. Over 2,000 meters above sea level. N. M. Pine-oak forests are found. Most of the park is made up of this temperate pine and oak forest, characterized by a rainy season between May and November and a dry season the rest of the year. These forests are taller, such as oaks (Quercus spp.), both deciduous and evergreen, as well as pines or ocotes (Pinus montezumae, P. ayacahuite and others), strawberry trees (Arbutus xalapensis) and other species. These forests contain several species of orchids, such as squirrel tail (Artorima erubescens), Laelia albida, L. furfuracea, Govenia liliacea, Rhynchostele maculata, R. cervantesii, R.galeotiana, Bletia roezlii and lemongrass (Euchile aff. karwinskii). The trees are loaded with bromeliads, epiphytic orchids, mosses, ferns and an epiphytic cactus known as “conzatti”. There are some treeless plains where many flowers are found such as clover (Oxalis tetraphylla), passion flower (Passiflora holosericea), dahlia (Dahlia coccinea), bomarea (Bomarea edulis) and pericon (Tagetes lucid). At the top of Cerro San Felipe is a cold forest of pure pines. In these forests there is a species of endemic hill orchid, Malaxis pollardii. The higher parts are often covered in fog.
Several plants in the park are useful to humans. Pennyroyal, a temperate forest shrub, is used to make a tea to treat diarrhea, stomach pain and hangovers. Pericón is also used to make anise-flavored tea. Chepil, papalo, rabbit yerba, chepiche, purslane and epazote grow wild in disturbed areas and are used for stews and typical dishes. Numerous trees, such as red nanche, pumpkin, nopal and annona provide edible fruits. Maguey tobala (Agave potatorum) is used to make mezcal and contains edible maguey worms. Copal seeds, ingested daily in pill form, relieve acne. The resinous wood of the ocote is used for kindling fire and the copal for incense. Some mushrooms are edible, such as the cashuate mushroom, but many others are poisonous, so it is dangerous to pick mushrooms without someone who knows them very well.
Unfortunately, due to some anthropogenic activities both some plant and animal species are threatened in their habitats.
Dahlias, orchids and wild lilies are collected for ornamental use, which contributes to their extinction. The birds are also hunted for sale in markets. Illegal deforestation also threatens Oaxaca City’s parkland and water. Forest fires and pests also pose a danger.
Furthermore, pine and oak forests are attacked by mistletoe, especially in the area adjacent to San Andrés Huayapan.

Fauna –
Benito Juárez National Park is the main home of the pygmy jay (Cyanolyca nana), considered a vulnerable species. The boundaries of the park are not well demarcated. The park is threatened by livestock invasion, illegal logging, forest fires and hunting. The sport of downhill cycling is popular within the park.
Wild mammals are very elusive in the park, but it is very common to see the burrows of rodents or the spines of porcupines, but they are nocturnal and are almost never seen during the day. Some of the most common mammals are the opossum and the squirrel. Deer, wild boars and perhaps coyotes are also found. There were once pumas and jaguars, but it is no longer known whether they live in the park.
It is much more common to see domestic mammals, such as cows, donkeys, goats, sheep and horses grazing on the hill. There are wild herds of escaped horses and dogs.
Many birds live in the reserve, some sedentary and others migratory from the United States, Canada and northern Mexico, which are found in the reserve only in winter. Some resident birds are the Mexican trogon, the buzzard, the common caracara or bearded vulture, the roadrunner and many others. Species vary based on height and vegetation.
Many snakes inhabit the mountain. Most are harmless, but dangerous ones include the rattlesnake and the coral snake, whose venom can be deadly.
Lizards and toads are also common. In rivers there are sometimes fish, frogs and crabs.
Black beetles breed on the hill and come down to the valley in June or August. On the hill it is common to see their young, called “blind hens”, among the leaves or on the paths.

Guido Bissanti

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