Dr. Julian Lee
Expert on reptiles of Northern Central America

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September 2001

National Environmental Appraisal Committee, NEAC
Government Offices
Belmopan, Belize

Dear Committee Members:

As a herpetologist with three decades of experience working on the
behavior, ecology, and biosystematics of the amphibians and reptiles of southeastern México and northern Central America, I write to express concern for the proposed Macal River Upstream Storage Facility and to register my opposition to that project.

The Upper Macal and Raspaculo river systems and their tributaries support the greatest diversity of amphibians and reptiles found anywhere in the Yucatán Peninsula, defined broadly to include all of Belize and the Guatemalan Department of Petén as well as the Mexican portions to the north. The area of the proposed dam is especially rich in stream-breeding species of frogs and toads, including the only endemic species of amphibian in Belize, the frog Rana juliani. It is certain that further research will reveal the presence of additional herpetological novelties in the area, for the stream-breeding leopard frogs presently referred to as Rana berlandieri unquestionably represent an undescribed species. Undescribed species of frogs of the genus Eleutherodactylus likely await discovery in this area as
well. Yet, as presently conceived, the dam will inundate nearly ten square kms of the habitat that supports these unique animals. One certain effect of the project will be the extinction of many local populations of forest-dwelling organisms, including amphibians and reptiles. The dam will back up the Macal River an estimated 20 kms and the Raspaculo some10 kms and innumerable small tributaries of these rivers will also be inundated.

Extensive areas of habitat that presently support populations of
stream-breeding amphibians will be rendered uninhabitable; these
populations, too will disappear.

I respectfully urge the National Environmental Appraisal Committee to
consider very carefully the negative impact that this project will have on the Macal and Raspaculo river systems and the herpetofauna of the region, giving full weight to the biotic importance of this unique area.


Dr. Julian C. Lee, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology

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