San Cristóbal-Casita

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San Cristóbal-Casita Volcanic Complex

The San Cristóbal-Casita Volcanic Complex is a protected area of 179.64 km2 under the category of Nature Reserve belonging to the National System of Protected Areas (SINAP) of the Republic of Nicaragua. It was established by Decree Law 1320 of 1983. It is located in the department of Chinandega, to the north of the Pacific region of Nicaragua, 130 km from the capital Managua. It is formed by a mountain range of five volcanic cones, among them volcano San Cristóbal, the highest of the country.

The mentioned Decree Law establishes in its article 1 that the creation of San Cristóbal-Casita Volcanic Complex Natural Reserve protected area aims to protect and prevent further ecological deterioration in those significant natural areas of our geography.

The San Cristóbal-Casita Volcanic Complex is a recharge area of the western aquifer. This aquifer is the source of supply of the entire battery of wells with which the National Company of Aqueducts and Sewers (ENACAL) supplies drinking water to the population of the municipalities of Chinandega, Chichigalpa, Posoltega, Corinto, El Realejo and El Viejo with about 340,000 inhabitants.

The aquifer also supplies water to all the rural communities located at the base of the volcanic complex, and to the irrigation systems of sugarcane factory San Antonio, which has the largest sugarcane plantations in the country.

Location

Location, Area and Access
The San Cristóbal-Casita Volcanic Complex Nature Reserve is located in the municipalities of Chinandega, Chichigalpa and Posoltega, Chinandega department, in the northern part of the Pacific region of Nicaragua, is part of the Maribios mountain range and has an extension territory of 17,964.10 hectares (179.64 km2) corresponding to 25,509 manzanas.

The limits of the Natural Reserve San Cristóbal-Casita Volcanic Complex are defined by the curve of level of 300 masl; which was established in his creative decree.

Soils
The soils of the protected area and the surrounding plains have volcanic origin, fertile and deep, with a sandy loam texture and extremely fragile.

Precipitation
The average precipitation on the complex is 1600 to 1800 mm annually (Atlas INETER, 1995), higher than in the rest of the Pacific region. This is because the area is influenced both by an axis of rainfall coming from the nearby Pacific Ocean and by the moist trade winds of the Caribbean Sea. Even in the high parts of the complex the precipitation is still much greater. A rain gauge installed 40 years ago in the farm Algeria, at 680 masl, shows average values of precipitation above 2000 mm per year.

Hydrography
There are no permanent water currents that descend from the complex due to the high porosity of their soils. However due to this high permeability the complex acts as an immense sponge that absorbs rainwater. This water is discharged in two ways: on one hand, it emerges in a series of short rivers that rise at a certain distance in the surrounding plains and flow into the Bay of Corinto and the Gulf of Fonseca; and on the other hand origins extensive groundwater mantles located in the plains to the north and south of the complex.

To the bay of Corinto run 10 rivers, several are dammed and used like source of water for irrigation. The most important are the river Posoltega, Mono Muerto, Amalia or Río Sucio, and Cosmapa, the latter runs close to the hacienda of the same name. Other rivers are the river Los Remedios, the Tesorero, Las Lajas, El Realejo, San Isidro and Atoya.

From this Nature Reserve is born the Olomega River which is one of the main headwaters of the Estero Real River. The Olomega flows to the foot of the hills of San Lucas located to the northeast of the cone of the Pelona, that at its mouth forms the protected area of Estero Real, declared Ramsar site.

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