Federico Schutt took his horse and two backpacks full of small dung balls. He went through the flattest grounds of his ranch, just meadow at that time, and threw those small balls to the damaged fields.
Mr. Federico mixed dung and mud, then he put Pochote seeds in the dung-mud ball; dung worked as organic fertilizer, and mud helps to provide consistency. Pochote is a tree that resists extreme climates.
58 years later land is not damaged anymore. Trees grew strongly, animals came back to these grounds and Mr. Federico ´s meadow became Curu Wildlife Refuge. This 1.500 hectares project is located at Nicoya Peninsula and has three unspoiled beaches, trails, wildlife and plenty vegetation.
You can dive and do snorkeling in this refuge´s waters. Also you can get to Quesera beach by kayak (which is by the way the whitest beach I have ever seen).
Raccoons pass through the Refuge with no fears nor worries, monkeys swing at the top of the trees and deer walk around peacefully. This is natural harmony.
This complex is managed by founder´s children; Adelina, Luis and Federico Jr. These people have made efforts to preserve the legacy that his father started to build in 1960, when Mr. Federico decided to dedicate a portion of his ranch to create a forest.
Mr. Federico was born in Costa Rica, but his parents were German. He lived the first years of his life in the US, until the great Depression forced him to sell his hat business and come to Tico land in the middle of the 30´s.
His son Luis told me that the first sentence Mr. Federico said when he arrived to Curu was: ¨I am staying here¨. He put a hammock and settled down on this land forever. He married Mrs. Julieta Valle, who helped him to develop Curu.
On a remote land like this, you could only get here by bongo (artisanal boat). There was no road nor ground access for vehicles.
Tourism was inexistent and people only used grounds for agriculture and cattle purposes. This situation caused a lot of trouble to Schutt family. Government measure was executed in terms of economic activities established at that time. Around 400 hectares of Schutt family´s land were expropriated in the 70´s due to it was considered a ¨waste¨ to preserve so much land for forest.
“At that time, people did not preserve forest. It was considered inappropriate. Monkeys were plague, same thing dantas and deer. People used to kill them to sow. Burn everything was key to create a farm”, said Luis, who is the youngest of Schutt family.
In the following years, Government politics started to change until it accredited Curu as the first Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica.
Today, the refuge has stablished responsible touristic fishing programs. So fishermen committed to respect certain zones and species.
Around 40% of net profits are invested in management and conservation.
The ticket access fee is $4.00 and tours price is up to $35.00 per person.
Mr. Federico passed away in 1982, but surely he will be happy that so many tourists admire this legacy.