Adecuación de los puertos de montaña del Parque Nacional

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mirador pto morcueraLa declaración como parque nacional de la Sierra de Guadarrama la convierte en un destino turístico de naturaleza de importancia internacional. Esta situación enorgullece, pero a la vez carga de responsabilidad a las administraciones gestoras porque, aunque son muchos los valores naturales que han hecho merecedora a la sierra de la declaración como parque nacional, también son algunos los impactos sobre el medio a corregir.

Los puertos de montaña son unas de las principales puertas del parque sobre todo si, como el nuestro, es fundamentalmente de cumbres. Además la altitud y la exposición a los vientos de los terrenos de puerto los hace especialmente complejos para su tratamiento. La restauración ambiental y la ordenación y adecuación para su uso público y la mejora de la visita, ha sido la que ha motivado la redacción y posterior ejecución del proyecto de adecuación de los puertos de Morcuera entre Miraflores y Rascafría, Los Cotos entre Rascafría y Valsaín y Navafría entre Lozoya y Aldealengua de Pedraza.

Control of impacts due to public use

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escalerasThe public use is irretrievably associated with some negative impact on the natural environment, which is more or less serious depending on the number of visitors, the distribution area and the time of the year. It is therefore essential to carry out a follow-up to the Public Use. Almost all impacts are caused by an excessive number of visitors practicing their activity in areas that do not support so much use. In most cases, it is a number problem, since a bike going through the Peñalara grasslands is not a problem, but dozens of bikes are a problem.

For this reason are being carried out proceedings and management measures that attempt to minimize these negative impacts and prevent others. Some of these measures are the following:

Invasive species – Arctic char (Salvelinus fontinalis) eradication

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salvelinoOne of the greatest environmental challenges today is the proliferation of invasive species, responsible for a great biodiversity loss throughout the world. Some years ago, in the Sierra de Guadarrama aquatic ecosystems has been located a population of feral American Mink (Neovison vison), an invasive specie that has colonized many of the Spanish rivers. In the past few years has also been detected the American signal crayfish –“Pacifastacus leniusculus”- in the lower Lozoya River areas. Both species are virtually confined to the Peripheral Protection Zone, though their distribution in the Sierra has been tracked, and their trend and populations size is being analyzed.

In any case, the Sierra de Guadarrama is one of the few successful examples in the eradication of an introduced specie: the Arctic char (Salvelinus Fontinalis), eradicated from the Peñalara Lake and the Hoya de Peñalara stream. The arctic char is a salmonid native to the NE of North America, living in lakes and cold, clear, and oxygenated water rivers. It is a very voracious carnivore, which feeds on great invertebrates, zooplankton, juvenile fishes, and amphibians larvae. Adults are usually about 20-35 cm length and under 0.5 kg weight. It was introduced around 1970 in the Peñalara Lake , where there was previously no fish, and it colonized the Hoya de Peñalara stream by migration.

Ecological restoration of the Peñalara Lake

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travesia lagunaAt the beginning of last century nineties, the Peñalara Lake had a deplorable state of conservation. The area accumulated garbage, the lake suffered recurrent eutrophication episodes and the banks were tremendously eroded. In addition, an exotic fish specie, the Arctic char, had been introduced and caused the disappearance of many aquatic species living in this lake.

All these environmental problems were the result of a disproportionate and inappropriate use of this enclave, initiated from the seventies. In 1990, however, there is a turning point in the progressive deterioration of this high mountain wetland. In this date occurs the reclassification, from Natural Site of National Interest to the Natural Park (which would be later integrated into the current Sierra de Guadarrama National Park). With reclassification came the first emergency measures as to amend the detected environmental problems, more specifically the prohibition of bathing and camping.

As of that date, a number of limnological studies were conducted in the lake, which remains in limnological monitoring. These studies have served as a base to a series of actions aiming the ecological restoration of the lake.

Elimination of the Valcotos alpine ski resort

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pista zabalaThe complete dismantling and ecological restoration of an alpine ski resort (VALCOTOS), is one of the most noteworthy actions carried out in terms of conservation.

From the last century sixties years emerges a different approach to the use of the mountain, based on great resorts for the practice of alpine skiing. The making in 1969 of the Valcotos ski resort, caused the destruction or alteration of valuable ecosystems and unique formations having glacial origin, in the Peñalara area. Fortunately, the real estate development projects planned for this area were stopped since they disobeyed the urban legislation provisions, avoiding an even greater disaster. The figures on the ski resort give an idea of the extent the transformation suffered: opening of 6 Alpine ski tracks with a surface area over 24 hectares; 11 ski lifts lines were built, that is about 6 kilometers of path, a hundred bollards or posts for the route and more than 20 facilities. The damage included the removal of vegetation, the destruction of the glacial geomorphological elements, removing and levelling land, soil erosion and gully formation, impact on the landscape, etc.

In 1999 the works to recover the affected ecosystems started, and although the most obvious were conducted between the turn of the century, revegetation work, improvement and follow-up of the proceedings remain at present. A summary of the work carried out would be as follows:

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