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 Phillip Rollfing  

Casa Verde Reserve

Former student to donate Costa Rican
to Texas A&M University



Rare gifts are nothing new to Texas A&M University. Being offered a rainforest, however, is.

Charles W. Soltis, a 1955 graduate of Texas A&M, is donating a 250-acre rainforest in Costa Rica to the university, providing a unique learning opportunity for Texas A&M students.

Soltis and his associate, Curt Clemenson, are beneficial owners of the rainforest located in north central Costa Rica, known as the “Casa Verde Reserve.” In addition, a 40-acre site adjacent to the reserve and owned by Clemenson will also be included in the donation. Casa Verde is north of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents has authorized Texas A&M President Robert M. Gates to negotiate the final terms and conditions of the acceptance of the gifts.

The 40 acres will be purchased by Soltis who, at his own expense, will construct a research and education facility. The facility will include dorm rooms and bungalows for students, faculty and staff, dining and conference facilities, classrooms, laboratories and greenhouses.

“Mr. Soltis and Mr. Clemenson desire to make the Casa Verde Reserve a model
for the studies of environmental sustainability and ecology, not only in Latin America, but also in the world,” Gates said. “The education, research and outreach activities of Texas A&M University would be greatly enhanced with access to the natural resources present at the Casa Verde Reserve, the Monteverde Natural Reserve and Costa Rica.”
Students and faculty in the College of Architecture will assist Soltis in the design of the facility.

Casa Verde sits at the foothills of the world-renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, an area widely acknowledged as one of the most biologically significant tropical forest and tropical plant and wildlife sanctuaries in the world.

More than 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, tens of thousands of insect species, and 2,500 species of plants can be found in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Interest in using Casa Verde for research, study abroad activities, and student research field trips has already been expressed by the Colleges of Architecture, Geosciences, Engineering, Science, Education, Agriculture and Liberal Arts.

The College of Geosciences is looking into the possibility of establishing a measuring facility to study landscape changes and mudslides.

In addition, faculty in the Department of Biology want to study genetic evolution and DNA sequencing of rain forest plants, while faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are interested in studying the coexistence of a rain forest with local agricultural development.

The reserve and facility will provide research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty of Texas A&M, as well as students and professionals from other universities and countries under programs facilitated by Texas A&M.

Soltis, who graduated from Texas A&M with a mechanical engineering degree, has spent most of his life in the construction business, including construction of facilities in Costa Rica.

Clemenson, who currently resides in Costa Rica, has been involved in promoting environmental issues. He founded the Texas Rain Forest Action Group and created and formed The Earth Foundation, which in 1995 financed the largest private acquisition of land for conservation, doubling the Noel Kempff Park in the Amazon of Bolivia to more than 4.9 million acres, making it the size of Massachusetts.

Final acceptance of the gifts will not occur until the research and educational facility is completed in accordance with plans and specifications approved by the university.

Related story:
Architecture students unveil designs for proposed experiment station in Casa Verde, Costa Rica


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Guillermo Vasquez-de-Velasco and Chris Ellis in Casa Verde, Costa Rica

A survey team of aggie architecture students at the site of the proposed research center in Casa Verde, Costa Rica

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