Preserving Costa Rica’s Heritage

IMG_7613We recently returned from Costa Rica, where one of the highlights was a trek through Corcovado National Park. It was there that I saw one of the few historic sites we encountered in our seventeen-day trip, but it had no sign, no marker, and in fact, were I not attuned to such things, we probably would have walked right by it without comment.

However, being an avid history fan and having surveyed a plethora of historic sites in national parks, I couldn’t help but ask our guide about the site. There clearly had been something there and I was curious. There was a fence, a slight clearing, a small collection of weathered lumber and a door leaning against the fence. “Oh that”, he said. It was the remains of the ranger station that had been built when Corcovado National Park was first established in 1975. The ranger station at Los Patos, where we had stopped earlier that morning to sign the trail register, was built in 2008 by the Corcovado Foundation to replace this one, which was then torn down.

Historical? It certainly didn’t meet the 50-year age “standard”. Site integrity? Not sure disassembling a building leaves much integrity, though the pieces were still there at the site. But significant? You bet. The building very clearly represents the moment when the people of Costa Rica chose conservation over development, preservation over plunder.


Image courtesy Jason George

Worthy of being restored as a monument? Nope, not when the purpose of the park is so clearly the preservation of undisturbed animal habitat.

Seeing tapirs, puma, crocodiles, tiger necked herons, giant silk cotton trees and dozens of other, now-protected species? Well worth the loss of the ranger station.

Note: Costa Rica also has a rich cultural history. We just didn’t see much of it because the focus of our trip was natural history. Next time!

Learn More
The Corcovado Foundation

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