Utahns preserving rain forest as a haven for eco-tourists

   A small but spectacular piece of rain forest in the heart of Costa Rica will remain standing, thanks to the intervention of three Salt Lake men.  Four years ago, Randall Tolpinrud, William Connelly and Jerry Robinson bought the jeopardized 460 acres for $178,000 after touring it on a business trip. They named it Bosque Lluvioso Rio Costa Rica, meaning rain forest on the Costa Rica River, and have since established a nonprofit foundation for the forest’s preservation.   Using “green technology” that employs environmentally sensitive materials and building techniques, they are developing and “Exploratorium” at the Bosque intended to be a haven for ecotourists, students and Costa Rican-based National Biodiversity Institute researchers.   The institute, which is in partnership with the Costa Rican Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines, attempts to determine and locate the country’s 500,000 species of plants, animals and microorganisms, then make that information available to the public. Already in place on the Bosque are a restaurant and reception area, eight miles of trails, a 15-acre botanical garden and a suspended bridge over the Costa Rica River, which borders the site. The master plan includes several educational pavilions, a small lodge, a butterfly habitat, an amphitheater and astrolog ical observatory, stations for recycling/composting and or treatment.

The preserve is just a few kilometers from the Braulio Carrilo rain forest, a Costa Rican national park President Clinton visited last year to demonstrate his commitment to reserving”sustainable development,” a concept that promotes balance between comfortable, abundant lifestyles and the conservation of natural resources for future generations. Tolpinrud, a real estate broker and author of a manual explaining green technology, said the goal of all involved is to show that rain forest can be preserved and still be profitable.  “nature has to pay for itself,” Tolpinrud said, noting that deforestation wouldn’t occur if uses besides destructive ones–logging, mineral extraction and cattle grazing–were known to sustain themselves. Scientists only know the benefits of 10 percent of the species in the rainforest, he said.  “The potential for pharmaceutical benefits is immense,” Tolpinrud said. “We’ll never know what’s lost in our rush to clear the forests.”   The San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network estimates that 2.4 acres of rain forest are destroyed per second. If these rates continue, nearly all of the world’s

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