During the session of the Municipal Council of Nicoya on Monday, April 6th, the Municipality of Nicoya reported on a possible encroachment upon the protected zone of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge in Nosara.
The announcement was made by means of a report that was put together by the Department of Constructive Control and Public Works in conjunction with the Department of Land Registry, both from the Municipality of Nicoya.
The report estimated that the area that has allegedly been encroached upon is approximately 950 square meters (10,225 square feet).
Currently, five cabins are located in this area that are part of Hotel Harmony as well as one cabin in the adjacent property that belongs to the Casa Olas project (see attached map).
The report indicates that the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) was asked for the location of the posts that mark the maritime land zone (called mojones) and the boundaries of the Ostional Refuge in that area in order to define the coordinates of the protected area of the refuge and confirm whether or not there has been encroachment as alleged.
Additionally, the report makes mention of a street that is supposedly public and is also located within the property of Hotel Harmony.
The hotel parking lot and a roundabout are in that area, and the mayor’s office will assess the possibility of opening it to the public.
Marco Jimenez, municipal mayor, said they are waiting for the municipal council, the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT- Area de Conservacion Tempisque) and MINAE to issue criteria about the situation.
“The first thing we are doing is informing the municipal council about this report. Three sets of plans were made. The red line is MINAE’s [Ostional Refuge boundary], and it was mounted so that the last plan indicates that there is an invasion of 950 meters,” Jimenez said.
Due to this topographical survey, the mayor’s office detected other private constructions that are also within the refuge area.
“Based on this survey, there are other places titled to individual people that are encroaching upon this sector, but at this time, the biggest and the ones with the most construction have been brought to light,” Jimenez said.
The report was passed on to the environmental commission for the council members to evaluate and to establish a verdict.
Likewise, the mayor’s office will send a copy to the ACT and MINAE management so they can also take the respective administrative actions.
Ostional Refuge Boundaries Are Unclear
In 2004, about 100 meters (328 feet) of the street that passes behind the backside of Hotel Harmony, running parallel to the beach, was closed to vehicular traffic through a decree from MINAE due to belonging to the Ostional Refuge.
However, in September of 2013, MINAE annulled the decree and the street was opened again for vehicular traffic.
The resolution from MINAE to reverse the previous decree that closed the road cited a report by Carlos Hernandez, administrator of the Ostional Refuge for MINAE, who said that “at the request of the Municipality of Nicoya, the regional director [in Ostional] issued an administrative resolution indicating that the previous closure be lifted because the closure is located outside of the refuge and it is left to the municipality’s criteria as their jurisdiction to keep it or remove it.”
However, the new topographical studies presented by the Municipality of Nicoya on Monday, April 6th show that the street does belong to the Ostional Refuge and therefore the mayor said he would assess the possibility of asking Minae to reopen the street.