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Audubon, Amigos, and Grupo Modelo dig in on World Environment Day

By Frank Gaydos

World Environment Day 2014

When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. When is the second best time to plant a tree? Right now. Chinese Proverb

The landscape looks a little different down at the Presa Allende near San Miguel Viejo these days. On June 5 and 7, in celebration of World Environment Day, Grupo Modelo A.B. Imbev, Audubon de Mexico and Amigos de la Presa with support from the San Miguel de Allende municipal government, joined together to plant 125 native trees, trim and clean life-threatening paixtle from the existing trees, and carry away 35 bags of trash collected from the Presa shoreline.

Grupo Modelo, brewers of Mexico’s signature Modelo Especial and Corona beers, is now part of Anheuser Busch, which has an international corporate objective to demonstrate care for the environment where their employees live and work. Modelo project coordinators from the Bajío district, Elena Montserrat Macias and Ana Luisa Torres, selected San Miguel as the location for their World Environment Day activities from amongst all the cities in the States of Guanajuato and Queretaro.

Andrea Romney, San Miguel’s NGO liaison, contacted Amigos de la Presa president Mike Lambert to see if they would like to collaborate with Grupo Modelo on a project. Mike contacted Audubon president April Gaydos, and they both agreed the answer was yes, of course! For Amigos and Audubon this was an opportunity to establish a riparian area along the vacant shores of the presa that will improve water quality, purify our air, create new habitat for birds, and enhance the beauty of this popular public area.

Christina Gonzalez Sanchez, an arborist brought in by Audubon, met with the coordinating team at the site to assess the conditions and the appropriate trees to plant. “We wanted to do this project right to ensure the greatest chance for success,” said Gaydos.

Donated trees were sought from government agencies, but no trees were available for the project. When April approached Franke’s Nursery about purchasing trees, Louis Franke agreed to donate them instead. “This was a great moment,” recalled Gaydos, “We felt very honored by Louis Franke’s generosity.”

Over the course of two days, Modelo and city employees along with community volunteers planted 125 trees, cleaned and pruned 30 existing trees, and collected 35 bags of trash. Cristina Gonzalez started each day with an orientation about the importance of trees and the correct way to plant and prune them. Small groups then disbursed equipped with shovels, ladders, pruners, saws, and trash bags. All told, 150 people, including approximately 40 adults and children from San Miguel Viejo, participated in the event; tallying nearly 750 hours of time.

“Our volunteers were amazing,” said Gaydos. “Enthusiastic, hard-working, and ready to do it again.”

Amigos board member, German Goyeneche, participated on June 5. German was everywhere, energetically directing the plantings and organizing bucket brigades to carry water to the newly planted sauce (willow) and sabino (species of cypress) trees. “At one point I looked out over the site and it looked like a beehive – everyone had a role, each was focused on their task, and together they were making it happen. It was incredible,” said Gaydos.

Now comes the task of keeping the trees supplied with water and the pleasure of watching them grow over time.


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