Remarks by Director Jamie Rappaport Clark, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the: Mexican Culture Center event to celebrate the Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico Program

To begin with, I wish to thank the Embassy of Mexico for this opportunity to celebrate the Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico program and to congratulate SEMARNAP for its new biodiversity conservation strategy. I also wish to extend special thanks to: Kathryn Fuller, President of the World Wildlife Fund; Russell Mittermeier, President of Conservation International; and Scott Sutherland, Director of Governmental Affairs for Ducks Unlimited. Thank you for joining us today and for the generous support of your organizations for this morning's special event.

In terms of species diversity, Mexico is one of the most important countries on the planet. The biological treasures found in its rainforests, wetlands, spectacular deserts, and renowned coral reefs attract conservationists from around the world. Those from the United States are particularly drawn to Mexico because we share ecosystems, like the San Pedro watershed, and many species of wildlife, particularly migratory birds.

These common landscapes and species have brought together the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Fisheries -- SEMARNAP -- in a tight knit partnership that has given us many accomplishments . . . accomplishments made possible by the hard-working and dedicated people of SEMARNAP and the Service, who have, in the past several years, enjoyed a tremendous boost from the strong support of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and SEMARNAP Secretary Julia Carabias.

One of our biggest accomplishments is the Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico program. In its short 5-year history, Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico has supported more than 100 projects and has trained nearly 6,000 people in wildlife conservation. These people are at the center of the success stories documented in the Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico five-year publication that is being presented here.

With us this morning are representatives from four of our most outstanding partners. First, I'd like to recognize SEMARNAP's Director for Wildlife, Felipe Ramirez. The Service has enjoyed a very warm and close relationship with Felipe over the years. He and his staff have worked side-by-side with us, dedicating an incredible amount of time and expertise to ensure the successful implementation of our programs. Unfortunately, Felipe couldn't join us this morning, but with us today is Enrique Prudencio (Enri-k Pru-den-show), President of the National Institute of Ecology, and I invite him up to accept this framed, "Wildlife Without Borders" poster on behalf of Felipe.

[BECKON ENRIQUE TO JOIN YOU BY PODIUM; MELIDA TO HAND YOU FRAMED POSTER; PHOTO OP]

Next, I would like to introduce Armando Garcia, Senior Vice President for Development for CEMEX.

[LEAD APPLAUSE AND BECKON HIM TO JOIN YOU BY THE PODIUM]

CEMEX has demonstrated an incredible commitment to conservation. This multi-national corporation has been an instrumental partner in international efforts to re-introduce several species, including pronghorn and desert bighorn sheep -- projects they have undertaken in collaboration with the New Mexico and Arizona Departments of Game and Fish. Further, CEMEX has provided matching funds to train Mexican wildlife managers, and the company has even opened its private ranches to demonstrate sustainable grassland management techniques to Texas A&M students. The Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico, 5-year report was printed thanks to CEMEX's financial backing. But perhaps CEMEX's greatest contribution has been the role it played in spearheading Mexican private-sector involvement in conservation. Many other Mexican corporations are now following CEMEX's lead.

Mr. Garcia, in recognition of all your company has done for wildlife conservation, the Fish and Wildlife Service proudly presents you with this certificate.

[MELIDA WILL HAND YOU CERTIFICATE. PRESENT CERTIFICATE, PHOTO OP, MR. GARCIA TO RETURN TO AUDIENCE]

Now, I mentioned that CEMEX financed the printing of the five-year report, but the credit for the production goes to Sierra Madre, a distinguished conservation organization, which provided matching funds. Patricio Robles (Pa-tree-see-o Ro-bless), president of Sierra Madre, is here representing his organization.

[BECKON HIM TO JOIN YOU BY THE PODIUM]

Sierra Madre is well known world-wide for the beautiful books they produce on nature. Through amazing photography and compelling publications, they have drawn people into the world of nature and motivated them to take action to protect it. As anyone who has seen the five-year report can attest, the conservation movement is truly fortunate to enjoy support from the talented and skilled individuals of Sierra Madre.

Mr. Robles (Ro-bless), please accept this certificate as a token of our appreciation for Sierra Madre's tremendous contribution to wildlife preservation.

[PRESENT CERTIFICATE, PHOTO OP]

Earlier this morning, Secretary Babbitt talked briefly about the tremendous success we've shared with SEMARNAP at the Monarch Butterfly Reserve. Well, with us today is one of the people whose on-the-ground work made it all possible. Gabriel (Ga-brie-el) Sanchez is one of the five members of ALTERNARE (Al-ter-nar-eh) -- a group committed to protecting the reserve and improving the lives of the people who live there.

[BECKON HIM TO JOIN YOU BY THE PODIUM]

Through a series of grants from the Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico program, ALTERNARE trained 500 campesinos in topics ranging from water and soil conservation, ecotourism, alternative energy, and environmental education. Mr. Sanchez was instrumental in motivating local communities to participate in conservation at the reserve -- a monumental accomplishment that is a tribute to his self-less dedication.

Mr. Sanchez, you have earned our admiration and respect. It is my honor to present you and ALTERNARE with this certificate.

[PRESENT CERTIFICATE, PHOTO OP]

Today we celebrated just a few of the many conservation heroes who are protecting Mexico's magnificent biodiversity. I hope you will take the time to look through the five-year report and learn about the many other successes of Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico. I assure you that you'll be hearing more about this program as we enter the new century.

Let us have a big round of applause for all of our partners.